India is ready for 5G launch, its deployment will improve its ranking on mobile speeds: Ookla CEO

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The Indian market is primed for the launch of 5G – the next generation of mobile broadband – and its rollout will only boost India’s overall mobile speed ranking, said Doug Suttles, CEO and co-founder of Ookla, the company best known for its Speedtest. rankings. Suttles told indianexpress.com during an email interaction that the 5G era should also be one of stability for India’s mobile operators and the regulator.

Currently, India is ranked 115th in Ookla’s global Speedtest index for mobile broadband. Average mobile download speeds are 14.28 Mbps for May 2022, which is slightly better than 14.19 Mbps in April 2022.

“With three large-scale carriers, we are unlikely to revert to the price wars that occurred early in the 4G technology cycle, which is important to ensure adequate network investment,” Suttles noted.

According to the latest statement by Union Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, 5G networks will be operational in 20 to 25 cities and towns by the end of the year. The Indian Express reported last week that the government has launched a call for applications for spectrum auctions from July 26 after the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to auction more than 72,000 megahertz (MHz), or 72 GHz, of waves with a validity period of 20 years. .

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But, the Ookla CEO also warned that India is still “catching up on already established 5G markets, it’s not starting from scratch.” He pointed out that thanks to the easy affordability of mobile data, “Indian consumers are among the heaviest data users in the world”, consuming an average of 17 GB per user in 2021 alone, according to the latest Indian index of the top Nokia mobile speed.

“Our Speedtest Video data shows that for the median user, Indian mobile networks supported an average adapted bit rate of 3.59 Mbps in the first quarter of 2022. This is well below the bandwidth required to support supports Full HD content. The Indian video streaming market is clearly crying out for the increased bandwidth and reduced latency that 5G will bring,” Suttles said.

Of course, Ookla is already seeing a large proportion of Indian consumers running Speedtest using 5G-enabled devices, which is no surprise given that most brands in the market are introducing 5G-enabled options. Research firms such as Counterpoint Research estimate that by the end of 2022, 5G smartphones will account for nearly 40% of all smartphones shipped in India, and according to Ookla, this will be “a solid base for carriers to target as soon as possible.” first day “. Launch of 5G.

Ookla CEO Doug Suttles. (Image credit: Ookla)

But Suttles also pointed out that 5G is more of a business game. “Indian operators have been working to formulate their strategy around 5G enterprise use cases and have engaged an ecosystem of partners to achieve this. For example, Airtel has also started deploying 5G-enabled network equipment, Jio is testing its own 5G Open RAN solutions in multiple cities,” he added.

According to the co-founder of Ookla, another potential area of ​​internet connectivity in India is satellite internet. It should be noted that companies such as Starlink and OneWeb (Airtel is the majority investor) are working on satellite internet.

He points out that in the future, “satellite internet services will serve as a competitive game in urban areas, especially where fiber has not been deployed, offering competitive speeds (as we saw in our recent analysis).” But he admitted that significant costs could hold back the widespread use of satellite internet, especially in the price-sensitive Indian market, where the average revenue per user (ARPU) was around 128 rupees in the first quarter.

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