OperaMajority of Indians suffer from stalling while watching videos on 3G, according to a study conducted by Skyfire Labs, a subsidiary of Opera Software that based its survey on data from OpenSignal, a global authority on the real world performance and coverage of mobile operators.

Open Signal’s data is sourced from over 5 million users of its mobile app, providing a direct window into the true experience on mobile networks. Opera had acquired Skyfire Labs earlier this year, in a $155 million deal. Skyfire’s Rocket Optimizer software allows mobile operators to leverage cloud computing to optimise virtually any video and other multimedia on crowded cell towers, including 3G and 4G LTE networks. To conduct the study, Skyfire combined its global data on mobile video network loads with extensive bandwidth test data from OpenSignal, using recent data from 2013 on India’s networks.

Key excerpts from the study

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– More than half (56%) of video consumers on India’s 3G networks suffer from significant stalling and re-buffering, leading to frustrated users and high video abandonment rates. Significant stalling is defined as a video that stalls or buffers more than 10% of its overall playback time.

– Overall, 83% of users on 3G experience at least some stalling while trying to watch video.

– On India’s 3G networks, 40% of all video streams ran at bitrates of less than 300 kbps, a very low-speed for video playback on mobile devices. To put things in perspective, HD video requires five to ten times higher bandwidth, and auto-play videos within the Vine and Instagram apps use a much higher bitrate (900-1300 kbps).

– On 2G, over 99% of users experienced at least some stalling.

Why is this an issue?

According to Cisco’s 2013 Visual Networking Index, mobile data traffic in India is projected to reach a 900 petabytes per month by 2017, with 60% of that data coming from mobile video alone. Additionally, YouTube, announced earlier this year that 30% of all YouTube videos consumed in India were already being watched on mobile.