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Vodafone-Idea merger could improve data upload speeds: OpenSignal

By Nikhil Cariappa

The merger between Vodafone and Idea could improve upload speeds for their subscribers, Open Signal, said in a blog. In its latest report titled ‘Mobile Network Experience Report’. OpenSignal mapped telecom operators across 22 circles in India from January to October 2018.

OpenSignal defines the ‘upload speed experience’ as “typical everyday speeds a user experience (sic) when uploading content to the operator’s mobile network.” 4G and 3G speeds are measured in Mbps.

Here are the key takeaways from the report in the upload speed experience category –

  • Idea topped the upload speed experience category, averaging speeds of 2.88 Mbps
  • Idea emerged as the fastest network for upload speeds in 10 circles, and shared the top spot in 6 other circles
  • Vodafone was Idea’s closest rival in terms of upload speeds
  • Idea topped the 3G upload speed category, being 15% faster than closest rival Vodafone
  • Idea was 30% faster than Vodafone in the 4G uploads category
  • No operator was able to cross the 4 Mbps mark
  • In Punjab, Idea came the closest with 3.9 Mbps
  • Vodafone had the fastest upload speed in 3 regions – Delhi, Kolkata and Rajasthan
  • Airtel emerged as the fastest network in terms of upload speeds in 2 regions – Andhra Pradesh and UP (east)
  • Jio shared the top spot for upload speeds in 2 circles – Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir

According to the report, all major telecom operators experienced a drop in upload speeds over 10 months. 

  • While Idea has been a consistent performer in the uploads category, it has seen a 13% drop in speeds to 3.99 Mbps.
  • Vodafone’s fell by 14% to 3 Mbps
  • Airtel’s fell by 12% to 2.5 Mbps and
  • Jio stayed stable at 1.6 Mbps

The report says that most operators focus on download speeds, but in the years to come, upload speeds will be just as important as subscribers start creating content, rather than only downloading it.

The future of telecom in India

The report adds some context to the future of telecom in India:

  • Vodafone-Idea now have about 422 million subscribers
  • 4 major national players in the 4G sector – Vodafone-Idea, Jio, Airtel and BSNL
  • High levels of competition have seen a drop in average revenue per user (ARPU) to unsustainable levels. According to a report in the Hindu Business Line, telcos have seen a drop in ARPU since 2016, coinciding with the arrival of Jio. The report goes on to say that ARPU trend is expected to be on the decline with both data and voice tariffs being slashed.
  • Operators will have to stop cutting prices and focus on content delivery and consumer experience as a differentiator.
  • Due to low smartphone penetration and room for a lot of growth in the market, Vodafone-Idea will challenge the dominance of Airtel and Jio.
  • The merger of Vodafone-Idea won’t result in a sum of their individual upload speeds, but combining spectrum would result in a higher capacity, and eventually, higher speeds for users.

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