Can One Man Change the Internet on a Whole Subcontinent?
Mukesh Ambani may have done just that. On September 5, his company, Reliance Jio, launched the world’s largest 4G LTE network in India. Over one billion people, 90% of India’s population, live in the coverage area for what is reported to receive LTE speeds that peak at 135 Mbps. For comparison, the average mobile internet download speed in the US is about 20 Mbps.
Jio’s 4G network reportedly cost $20 billion to build out, and the company is offering special introductory packages including free usage of the network through the end of 2016.
He built it, but did they come?
At least according to our Speedtest data, they sure did. And in droves.
What you’re looking at here is the number of tests taken by Jio users on 4G per month for the first nine months of 2016. The moment where the map is suddenly filled with green? That’s September.
For another way of looking at the data, below is a graph of the number of tests taken on 4G in all of India during 2016. The teal bar represents Jio customers.
The graph above reflects Jio’s launch strategy of releasing to employees and family in January 2016 and then following up with a soft launch three months later.
Is the connection as fast as promised?
It looks like mean download speeds for 4G capable phones actually decreased 23% month-over-month from 11.31 Mbps to 8.77 Mbps, continuing a downward trend for 2016.
One report suggests that the networks are already being “stretched to their breaking point” and facing bandwidth issues when accessing content from outside of India. That shouldn’t affect our data, though, as Speedtest data is gathered using in-country servers. For now it’s safe to say that 135 Mbps is an aspiration rather than a reality for the majority of Jio’s customers as even the top 10% of tests averaged out at 17.77 Mbps in September.
The global impact
One thing’s for certain, shifts in a market as large as India have the power to affect the market worldwide. With over one-sixth of the world’s population and a growing economy, India is a country worth watching. We can’t wait to see what Mukesh Ambani and Jio do next and how other carriers respond.
Wondering about interesting developments with internet speeds in your area? Take a Speedtest. You’ll get an accurate reflection of your individual speeds at that moment, and you’ll help us report what’s happening with internet speeds across the globe.