Reliance Jio had the highest average download speed (of 9.9 Mbps) among all the mobile operators in the country, as per TRAI’s speed test figures. Jio was closely followed by Airtel with an average download speed of 5.8 Mbps, and Telenor stood third with 5.3 Mbps average download speed. The lowest average download speed was recorded by MTNL at 1.2 Mbps.

Note that the speed results represent the average of data speed samples collected from various consumers of telecom operators on a crowd sourcing basis during speed test initiated by them via TRAI’s my speed app.

On a monthly trend basis Jio’s average speeds increased from 5.85 Mbps in November to a significant 18.16 Mbps as of December. In the same time period, Airtel’s average download speeds dipped from 5.93 Mbps to about 4.68 Mbps. Idea’s speeds increased from 4.36 Mbps to 5.03 Mbps, while Vodafone’s speeds increased from 4.97 Mbps up till 6.7 Mbps between November to December.

Why the speeds are not up to the mark

Taking a closer approach on 4G-only speeds, Jio topped with 9.9 Mbps average download speeds, Airtel followed with 8.1 Mbps, while Vodafone had third highest of 7.5 Mbps. On the 3G segment, Airtel posted the highest average download speed of 3.8 Mbps, Vodafone stood second with 3.3 Mbps and Idea had 2.8 Mbps. This means that Airtel’s 4G speeds are just 2x times higher than its own 3G speeds; the same is the situation for rest of the two operators.

There is no absolute minimum speed requirement to define what equates to 4G. The International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU) however recommends downlink speeds of up to 100 Mbps for it 4G LTE-Advanced standard. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), which is a telecom standard body had fixed downlink speeds at 300 Mbps and uplink speeds at 75 Mbps for its 4G LTE standard specifications.

India still seems to be far below these specified speeds. The top three telecom companies have been betting big on 4G by investing crores into 4G expansion but the output value in terms of connection speeds is inadequate. Research firm Akamai further revealed that India had an average mobile internet speed (2G+3G+4G) of just 3.5 Mbps—this is the slowest connection speed among APAC countries after Vietnam (3.5 Mbps). UK had the fastest average internet speed globally at 23.7 Mbps.