Airtel had the fastest 4G download speeds, per an OpenSignal report. The report — State of Mobile Networks: India — noted that Jio held the highest score in every state for 4G availability, i.e., the ability to connect to latch onto a 4G network. Other telcos did not come close in that metric, since Jio is the only operator whose entire network is fully LTE-enabled without any legacy infrastructure. In terms of latency, which OpenSignal defines as “delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network”, Vodafone and Idea topped the charts in most states.

OpenSignal has an app that uses crowdsourced data to present a coverage map of network availability across different carriers. It uses this data for its State of Mobile Networks reports.

Download speeds

4G download speeds were dominated by Airtel, which delivered ‘typical everyday speeds’ of 6Mbps. The carrier also dominated 3G download speeds, with Vodafone and Idea coming in second.

The carrier also topped overall download speeds, with BSNL clocking in dead last, at a speed that was half of Idea, which was second last.

4G latency was lowest on Vodafone, and highest on Jio (the lower the latency, the better).

Regional breakdown

With few exceptions, most carriers’ performance was uniform across different telecom circles. Jio was the only carrier that was perfectly consistent in any metric, holding the top spot in 4G availability everywhere. It only topped one other metric in any circle though — 4G latency in Kolkata, where it tied for the top spot with Airtel.

4G speeds stagnant

Across all operators, 4G speeds remained stagnant, even as operators expanded availability greatly, the report notes. This possibly indicates that in most places, speeds are limited by congestion and limited penetration. The report noted that under current conditions, 4G speeds may not grow much, but that telecom consolidation — and defunct operators’ spectrum being sold off — may lead to more spectrum and boosted network speeds over time.

Idea and Vodafone are planning to merge, to create the largest telecom operator in the country. On top of that, Aircel is selling off its spectrum now that it has filed for bankruptcy, while RCom faces financial trouble, the report notes. “While those mergers and acquisitions may very well shrink the Indian mobile industry’s now expansive competitive landscape, they will allow the remaining operators to compound their spectrum holdings,” the report said. “They can then plow those frequencies into more powerful LTE networks, boosting connection speeds for their customers.”