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At 97% Coverage, Reliance Jio’s 4G Network Biggest In India

The new telecom entrant Reliance Jio has enhanced its 4G/LTE network reach to 97.5%, while Airtel is occupying the second slot at 85%, according to a report.

Though RJio’s network availability increased by 1% from 96.7%, Airtel has shown remarkable improvement of 10% from 75.6% compared to last six months, according to the ‘Mobile network Experience’ report for April 2019 by Opensignal, a mobile analytics firm. The report will be released today.

RJio launched its services in late 2016, after which Indians started adopting 4G technology in a big way as the company offered services free for the initial six months, and later negligible data tariffs and free voice calls.

RJio created a nationwide LTE network only by offering free data, which was a pretty disruptive move, and the amount of data that goes over the mobile networks in India is stunning, OpenSignal’s CEO Brendan Gill told DNA Money.

The average cost of offering service is quite low in India, which is one of the cheapest data markets across the world, but going forward telecom players would need to spend money continuously to maintain the quality of their network, especially data – videos buffering, etc, he said.

“Right now, the operators are financially constrained, budgets are tight. So part of the question is can they operate what they’re charging. Are consumers willing to pay a little bit more for their connectivity? If it means yes, then the connectivity experience can be better,” Gill said.

India’s other key LTE operators remain some way behind, both Idea and Vodafone have grown their 4G availability scores by at least 3% points each. Opensignal is still treating Vodafone and Idea as separate entities since both the brands are continuing despite the merger.

“It will take time for them to actually integrate and combine those two networks. We will be monitoring it closely. At Opensignal, we are not measuring the network performance, we are just looking at their work in isolation — the end user experience of the network. And that’s different. I mean, that takes into account, you know, where do people go? Where they try and use their device? What device are they using? How are they using that device? Are they using it indoors or outdoors, all of these different things actually event in the network that you get. And that’s really what we, as a company, focus on,” he said.

Tracking over 5.4 million devices in India and 20 billion data points through its mobile application, Opensignal takes into account five parameters for mobile network experience – 4G availability, video experience, download speed experience, upload speed experience and latency experience.

India is a dynamic and competitive market, with many innovations, he said, adding that the market is very important for Opensignal since the data market is growing at a fast pace.

Telecom players are seeking other ways to differentiate their services rather than continually undercutting each other. “The focus is already shifting further towards service quality, with both Airtel and Vodafone Idea talking up its 4G network improvement plans, while Jio has gone one step further with a plan to bring 5G to India before its rivals,” he said.

As mobile video experience gradually improves, many operators are now forging content deals to attract subscribers and drive data use. Though high levels of competition have put a lot of price pressure on India’s operators, it should now abate given that there is relatively low level of smartphone penetration and a vast customer base, the report said.―DNA India

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