We live in an era where data is the new oil. Smartphones can’t really function without data, and for those who’re constantly on the go, and many others who don’t have access to broadband, mobile data is the fuel that drives their digital lives. From email / web browsing to instant messaging / social apps, online mobile gaming to streaming media, access to fast mobile data is a need as basic as food and water for many. Late last year, we set out to find the fastest mobile network in India, with help from real-world data sourced from our users.
The methodology for this was simple. We asked users to run a network speed test on their smartphones, by turning off Wi-Fi, switching to mobile data, and using their mobile browsers to open fast.com. This website allows one to test the download and upload speeds of data networks. Users were then asked to upload screenshots of the results via a Google form, and based on over 10,000 entries we received, we’re now ready to share the insights.
Not only have we managed to identify the fastest mobile network in India, we have data on which telecom operator is most popular overall, and have also split the figures by region, metros, and major Indian cities. Before we move on to the specifics, here’s the entire report for your reference.
The most popular mobile network in India
Jio has emerged as the most popular mobile network in the country, with 52 percent survey respondents using the telecom operator’s services. The telco has seen massive growth since its commercial launch in September 2016, and within a short span of time, found favour with many who find its services and data rates attractive. The VoLTE network also offers various content and streaming bundles as part of its services bouquet, which seem to have resonated with the users as well.
Airtel has grabbed second spot, with 33 percent survey respondents using its mobile services. Vodafone-Idea is third, with 14 percent, and BSNL/MTNL with 1 percent.
Trends in mobile download speeds
Download speeds form the most vital aspect of cellular data, defining how well you can use the various web-related functions of your smartphone. Staying connected over instant messaging, using social networks, emailing etc don’t need superfast download speeds, but for those who stream content (videos, music etc) and / or play online games on their phones, access to fast data download is crucial.
Coming to average mobile download speeds logged across the country, Airtel scored the highest by logging 15.2Mbps, with Vodafone-Idea coming in second with 11.4Mbps, followed closely by Jio which logged 11Mbps. BSNL/MTNL brings up the rear with 6.0Mbps. This means that Airtel could potentially be a better choice when it comes to tasks like streaming and mobile gaming on the go, as compared to other telecom providers.
Splitting the numbers by region, we see that Airtel took top spot across all four regions of the country when it came to average download speeds. In fact, the rankings are the same in all four regions, with Airtel being the fastest, followed by Jio, Vodafone-Idea and BSNL/MTNL. The data speeds vary a bit across North, South, East and West though. So while Jio might be more popular, it’s Airtel that seems to offer better speeds across the country.
We broke the data down to look at the figures emerging from the Indian metro cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. In New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, it’s Airtel that has taken the top spot in terms of average download speeds, followed by Vodafone-Idea at second spot and Jio at third. In Kolkata however, it’s Vodafone-Idea that emerged as the fastest, with Airtel following close behind, and Jio being third.
Next up, we look at the data speeds logged by users in the cities of Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad and Jaipur. This time, there’s a fair bit of variation visible.
In Bengaluru, Jio came in first when we talk about average download speeds. Jio’s 12.4Mbps average download speed is followed by Vodafone-Idea (9.9Mbps) and Airtel (9.8Mbps). Jio is first in Jaipur as well, with a very similar average data download speed. It’s followed closely by Airtel, with Jio ranking at third. In Pune, Airtel appears as the fastest in terms of average download speed, with 18.1Mbps. Vodafone-Idea is a distant second, with 8.7Mbps, followed by Jio which logged 7.4Mbps. In Hyderabad, Vodafone-Idea comes first, with a speedy 41.1Mbps download speed, followed by Airtel (25.9Mbps) and Jio (9.1Mbps).
Trends in mobile upload speeds
Upload speeds would matter more for those who live stream from their devices or share heavy files (videos etc) with others, and this is where Vodafone-Idea seems to fare better as compared to others.
When it came to average all-India mobile upload speeds. Vodafone-Idea emerged first with average upload speeds of 6.1Mbps, followed by Airtel (4.9Mbps), Jio (4.3Mbps), and BSNL/MTNL (2.3Mbps).
Vodafone-Idea’s lead in upload speeds seems to be spread almost evenly across the country. Looking at the region-wise breakup for average upload speeds, it’s Vodafone-Idea that takes the top spot in all regions except West India. The rankings are the same in the North and South regions, with Vodafone-Idea leading the charge, followed by Airtel, Jio and BSNL/MTNL. In the East, the sequence is slightly different, with Vodafone-Idea still being the fastest, but with Jio taking second spot and Airtel grabbing third. In the West, it’s Airtel that emerges the fastest in terms of average upload speeds, followed by Vodafone-Idea at second, Jio at third, and BSNL/MTNL taking the last spot.
Coming to average upload speeds in Indian metros, Vodafone-Idea has emerged as the top contender in New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. In the Indian capital, Vodafone-Idea is followed by Airtel and then Jio. In Kolkata and Chennai, it’s Jio that has taken second spot after Vodafone-Idea, with Airtel coming in at third spot. The rankings are different in the city of Mumbai though, with Airtel coming in first, followed by Jio and then Vodafone-Idea.
Switching to average upload speeds in the major Indian cities of Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad and Jaipur, Vodafone-Idea has taken the first spot in the Southern cities of Bengaluru and Hyderabad, where it’s followed by Airtel at second place and Jio at third. In Pune, it’s Airtel that’s the fastest in terms of upload speeds, followed by Jio and then Vodafone-Idea. In Jaipur though, Jio logged the fastest average upload speeds (7Mbps), with Airtel being second (5.2Mbps) and Vodafone-Idea third (3.1Mbps).
When it came to the fastest recorded upload speeds, Airtel logged the highest score of 92Mbps in Bengaluru, while Jio came in second by logging 57Mbps in Midnapore, West Bengal.
Here’s a quick recap of the results:
- Jio is the most popular mobile network among users
- Airtel has the fastest average download speed
- Vodafone-Idea has the fastest average upload speed
- Airtel has the fastest average download speed across all regions
- Vodafone-Idea has the fastest average upload speed in North, South and East regions
- Airtel has the fastest average download speed in three out of four metros – Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai
- Vodafone-Idea has the fastest average upload speed in in three out of four metros – Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai
- Out of the four major cities (Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Jaipur), Jio had the fastest average download speed in Bangalore and Jaipur
- Out of the four major cities (Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Jaipur), Vodafone-Idea had the fastest average upload speed in Bangalore and Hyderabad