The 4G network connectivity has upheaved in India, courtesy of the domestic telecom operator Reliance Jio that led to a digital transformation in the country with its debut in 2016. However, a large number of mobile users have switched from Wi-Fi network to 4G, as per OpenSignal report. According to the mobile analytics company, WiFi has not received the same amount of interest in India because of the focus revolving around the evolution of 4G networks. OpenSignal report, however, points out that the Government in India is ‘becoming increasingly turned on to the potential of public Wifi networks.’
The report notes that the government is planning to provide coverage to about 2,50,000 Panchayats and 5000 railway stations within the next two years.
“Wifi networks don’t get the same amount of interest in the subcontinent, as the evolution of telecoms has somewhat skipped the fixed-broadband stage of development and raced straight onto 4G. Nonetheless, there are a significant number of Wifi users in India connecting at home or at work, while publicly-accessible Wifi is becoming more and more important as data use increases,” OpenSignal said in its report. With smartphone penetration growing rapidly, the government initiative to set public WiFi networks seems ‘justified.’
OpenSignal, in its latest State of Mobile Networks report, observed substantial improvements in 4G availability in India. It, however, noted that WiFi connectivity is still relatively low in the country. OpenSignal cites that WiFi networks don’t get the same amount of interest since the evolution of telecom in the country has “somewhat skipped the fixed-broadband stage of development and raced straight onto 4G.” However, there is a significant number of WiFi users in India and the publicly-accessible WiFi is becoming ‘more and more important’ with the increase in data usage, as per the report.
As per the data released by OpenSignal, covering 90 days from March 1, 2018, it was observed that among four leading mobile operators, Vodafone users spend the most time connected to WiFi networks at 20 per cent with Airtel following next at 17 per cent. Idea and Jio users take the third and fourth slot with 15 and seven per cent respectively. While India’s WiFi connectivity is growing but it falls short of 50 per cent WiFi connectivity measured in the US, as per the report.
The report highlights the reason behind the low penetration of WiFi networks is because of the limited reach of home broadband. “In Europe in particular, large numbers of subscribers buy their mobile, broadband, and TV services from one operator. But this business model is simply not affordable for most Indians, so the operators have largely chosen to concentrate on mobile as opposed to fixed-line networks. This is reflected in the low penetration of home broadband connectivity in the country. This may also explain why our users on Jio’s mobile network spend significantly less time on Wifi compared to its rivals, since the operator has only just launched its JioFiber home broadband service.”
Besides the limited penetration of home broadband, the report notes that due to an increased number of smartphone users opting for 4G it has ‘restricted’ WiFi connectivity in the country. However, WiFi penetration in India is believed to improve with the launch of Reliance’s JioGigaFiber home broadband service. OpenSignal says that since 4G networks in the country have become more congested, telecom operators are believed to launch ‘WiFi offload programs’ and encourage users to use WiFi hotspots with low-cost data offers.
“Wifi has arguably never been more relevant to India. Home broadband connections are becoming more affordable as the price war in the mobile sector spills over into fixed-line. And as cheap introductory 4G offers such as Jio’s launch tariffs come to an end and India’s thirst for mobile reaches new heights, more and more Internet users will be looking for cost-effective ways of consuming large amounts of data,” OpenSignal mentioned in its report.
The mobile analytics company claims that 4G speed in the country is still among the slowest, but although WiFi connectivity might not be a solution to take the strain ‘off these mobile networks,’ it is considered to be ‘vital to improve connectivity and fuel the growing digital economy.’