Indian consumers can expect a 30-40% increase in mobile download speeds within the first year of 5G launch, with customers of Reliance Jio’s standalone (SA) 5G services likely to see the biggest boost, says Speedtest app provider Ookla.
Ookla CEO and co-founder Doug Suttles said that projection is partly based on experience with Indonesia, which is a similar mobile market to India in terms of population density and consumption patterns. Indonesia registered a similar increase in data speeds after the introduction of commercial 5G services.
As a benchmark, according to Ookla’s most recent data, India’s median mobile download speeds edged up slightly in May 2022 to 14.28 Mbps, from 14.19 Mbps the previous month.
NSA vs SA
Jio and Bharti Airtel are expected to launch 5G services by next month around the Diwali festival in October. Jio is rolling out SA 5G, marketing it as “true 5G”. Airtel will launch non-standalone (NSA) 5G to take advantage of its wider smartphone ecosystem.
Suttles said while NSA 5G can help telcos roll out 5G services quickly to consumers, SA 5G is the future, as it offers cutting-edge services like network slicing. He said that network slicing will be a “big deal” over time in India.
Suttles added that in a competitive market, it’s important to focus on performance coverage to be the front runner in 5G. “If you are not evolving your network, your competitors are going to likely get your customers.”
5G tariff wars unlikely
Suttles believes the Indian market is unlikely to experience another round of tariff wars with 5G.
“It’s been a really challenging market for operators given how they basically collapsed prices, which made it really difficult to build networks when you aren’t really making much to sell networks,” he was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. “Now, I think that this 5G era will be a more stable one in India.”
That said, he added, Indian telcos may not charge a premium for 5G services to boost ARPU and value it higher than 4G, if only because many other operators around the world have tried the same strategy, “but not many have seen success so far.”
Ookla is working with Indian telcos to help them with network rollout strategies with its crowdsourced platforms and data sources.
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