OpenSignal Mobile Experience report September 2020: Airtel leads in 4 out of 7 key metrics

Highlights
  • Airtel leads in Video/Games/Voice app/Download speed Experience
  • Vi leads in Upload speed Experience metric
  • Jio leads in 4G Availability and 4G Coverage Experience metrics

This is the first report in which OpenSignal has treated Vodafone and Idea as a single operator – Vi – in line with the combined operator’s new branding that was announced on September 7, 2020. OpenSignal has examined the mobile network experience of the four main mobile network operators in India: Airtel, BSNL, Jio and Vi, over a period of 90 days beginning May 1, 2020 to see how they fared, and further delved deeper into 49 of India’s largest cities, comparing the experience users received on these four operators.

Video Experience:

In addition to Airtel winning the Video Experience award for the fourth time in a row – with a score of 57.6, 3.4 points (6.3%) ahead of second-placed Vi – Airtel users were the only ones who enjoyed a Good Video Experience (55-65). Vi and Jio had to settle for the next rating down – Fair (40-55) – while BSNL has remained in the Poor category (under 40) for this measure of the mobile experience.

In line with the national awards, Airtel dominated the regional Video Experience. Airtel users observed a Good Video Experience in 31 cities and a superior — Very Good — Video Experience in seven cities that include Tier 2 cities like Coimbatore (65.9), Vadodara (66.6) and Dhanbad (66.8). A Very Good Video Experience means generally fast loading times and only occasional stalling while streaming videos online on a smartphone.

Games Experience:

This is the first time that Opensignal has assessed how mobile users experience real-time multiplayer mobile gaming across different operators in India. Airtel came out on top and won the Opensignal Games Experience award with a score of 55.6 out of a possible 100, ahead of newly merged Vi in second place. Airtel won outright in 22 cities, tied with both Vi and Jio in five cities and tied with just Vi in four other cities.

Voice App Experience:

Airtel has come top for Voice App Experience for the second report in a row, with a score of 75.5 out of 100. Both its score and the size of its lead — 1.1 points (1.4%) — have remained essentially unchanged since the last report, when Idea (now part of Vi) was placed second. Similarly little change has taken place from a category perspective, with Airtel retaining an Acceptable (74-80) rating, while users on Jio’s and BSNL’s networks have continued to observe a Poor (66-74) Voice App Experience. Vi’s first score for this metric places it in the Acceptable category, alongside Airtel.

Airtel won the majority of our regional Voice App Experience awards, despite the tight competition in this category. It was noteworthy that users on its network in Ahmedabad and Vadodara were the only ones to have perceived a Good Voice App Experience, on average, which means many users were satisfied, and only some users experienced minor quality impairments while using OTT Voice App services.

Download Speed Experience:

Airtel has retained the top spot on Download Speed Experience for the sixth report in a row with a score of 10.4 Mbps. However, its lead has shrunk, with 0.3 Mbps (3.5%) separating it from second-placed Vi — compared with the lead of 0.6 Mbps (6%) it commanded over Vodafone’s score in OpenSignal’s previous report. The average download speeds observed by Airtel users rose by 0.3 Mbps to 10.4 Mbps, while those seen by Jio users declined by 0.4 Mbps to fall below 7 Mbps. BSNL’s Download Speed Experience score fell by 0.2 Mbps compared with that in the last report to 2.7 Mbps.

Airtel and Vi come neck-and-neck in 11 cities for Download Speed Experience, Airtel users in Hyderabad clocked the fastest regional Download Speed Experience of 14.5 Mbps — almost 40% faster than the national average.

Upload Speed Experience:

Vi has comfortably won the Upload Speed Experience award with a score of 3.5 Mbps — 0.7 Mbps (24.7%) ahead of second-placed Airtel. This is not surprising, given the extent to which the operators that merged to create Vi — Vodafone and Idea — dominated this measure of the mobile experience in OpenSignal’s last report. The combined operator’s score is also 56.1% higher than that of Jio’s and 4.3 times higher than that of BSNL’s. Meanwhile, Airtel and Jio users observed declines of 0.1 Mbps (3.8%) and 0.3 Mbps (11.8%), respectively, in their average overall upload speeds.

Airtel and Vi came neck-and-neck in five cities for Upload Speed Experience, Vi users saw the fastest regional Upload Speed Experience of 6.1 in Guwahati.

4G Availability:

Jio once again has romped home to victory on 4G Availability. However, while the average proportion of time that Jio users spent connected to 4G has increased by 0.5 of a percentage point since the last report to reach an impressive 98.7%, Airtel saw its score increase by 1.1 percentage points. As a consequence, Jio’s lead has dropped from 3.7 percentage points to 3.1.

In OpenSignal’s regional analysis of 49 cities, we saw Airtel come close to challenging Jio’s dominance on 4G Availability in a majority of the cities although Jio continued to win almost all awards. However, as a result of the close results Jio did not make a clean sweep in 4G Availability: while Jio won in 48 cities outright it drew for the first place with Airtel in Coimbatore. Users on Airtel’s network, on average, were able to connect to 4G services more than 95% of the time in 42 cities, while their Jio counterparts in Rajkot continue to enjoy the highest 4G Availability of 99.3% in a city.

4G Coverage Experience:

Jio has won OpenSignal’s 4G Coverage Experience award for the second time in a row, with a score of 9.3 out of 10. However, as with 4G Availability, second-placed Airtel outpaced Jio with its improvement since the last report. Airtel’s score rose by 0.4 points compared with Jio’s 0.1, causing Jio’s lead to drop from 2.4 (34.7%) to 2.1 (29.3%). Shifting our attention further down the table, while Vi has benefited significantly from its merger given that its score of 5.9 compares favorably against the scores of 4.0 and 4.5 observed previously by Vodafone and Idea users respectively in the previous report, their combined score is still 1.3 points behind that of Airtel’s and 3.4 points behind Jio’s.

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