Network intelligence company Ookla, which is known for its internet speed test service, has put together a list of telecom company trends that it expects in India in 2023. Apart from faster mobile internet speeds and increasing 5G penetration, the company also predicts that low-earth-orbit satellite internet could act as a disruptor this year.
Ookla’s Speedtest intelligence data shows that mobile data speeds in India have increased over the past 12 months. The median download speed in November 2022 was 18.26 Mbps, up from 14.39 Mbps in November 2021. Also, India climbed seven places in the Speedtest Global ranking, going from 112th place in November 2021 to 105th place in November 2022.
According to the Ookla consumer survey, 89 per cent of respondents intended to upgrade to 5G while only two per cent said that they didn’t want to upgrade. Early data from Speedtest Intelligence revealed that there is a wide range of 5G download speeds, going all the way from 16.27 Mbps all the way up to 809.95 Mbps. According to Ookla, this suggests that operators are still recalibrating their networks. These speeds could start getting more stable as networks enter the commercial stage.
2023 could be the year when low-earth-orbit satellite internet makes it to India. The country has a low fixed broadband penetration with less than 10 per cent of households having access. In locations where fiber networks have not yet been deployed, satellite internet services could pick up the slack. Satellite internet services could be especially useful in remote and rural areas where the terrain makes it difficult to deploy network infrastructure. India’s National Broadband Mission emphasises the role of satellites in the technology mix that will extend broadband connectivity in more remote areas.
Telecom operators are busy rolling out 5G services after the 5G spectrum auction and according to Ookla’s 5G coverage map, Jio has extended the 5G network to 20 locations, while Airtel’s service is available in 15 locations.
As many as 48 per cent of the respondents of Ookla’s consumer survey said that they plan to upgrade to 5G as soon as it is available in their area and that they would consider switching providers if necessary. Around 20 per cent of the respondents said that they would switch as soon as their current provider offers 5G, 14 per cent of the respondents said that they have a 5G-capable phone, and 7 per cent said that they were planning to wait for their current contract to end. This could mean that service providers who provide 5G facilities faster might be able to poach customers from their competitors.
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