In Opensignal’s latest analysis, we see that despite rising mobile data consumption, the download speeds experienced by users have been maintained. By contrast, last year, Opensignal measured the Indian users’ mobile network experience across the country during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and we found that as mobile data traffic increased, mobile speeds dropped, indicating a more resilient experience in 2021 than in 2020.
In this new insight, we’ve quantified our Indian smartphone users’ average mobile data consumption and compared it to their average Download Speed Experience. Our analysis shows that the variation in mobile data consumption during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India inversely correlated with our users’ average Download Speed Experience. During the first lockdown in March 2020, we saw our Indian smartphone users’ average mobile data consumption increase drastically, along with significant drops in our users’ average Download Speed Experience. However, unlike the first lockdown, our users did not observe a substantial change in their overall download experience during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic starting March 2021 onwards. This highlights that the Indian mobile experience has been remarkably resilient during the second wave despite increased demand for mobile data.
Opensignal measured our smartphone users’ weekly average mobile data consumption and Download Speed Experience from the week starting on December 30, 2019, to the week ending on May 2, 2021. Then, we normalized both time series against the first week of the analysis using a 100-point base to observe how speed and data consumption changed over time.
In India, our smartphone users, on average, consumed a similar amount of mobile data throughout the initial weeks of 2020, and their mobile speeds did not change significantly. However, as the Indian government introduced strict lockdown measures in March 2020, we observed a sharp increase in the average mobile data consumed by our smartphone users on a weekly basis — 26.8% to 30.1% higher than at the beginning of 2020. The increased mobile data consumption lasted for six weeks between the last weeks of March 2020 and May 2020, before it gradually decreased towards pre-lockdown levels. Concurrently, our users saw significant declines in their average download speeds — up to 24.8%, compared to the first week of 2020.
The average mobile data consumption and the overall download speeds experienced by our users had returned back to pre-lockdown levels between June 29 and July 13, 2020. And remained more or less the same until the second week of February 2021, after which the average data consumption started to grow substantially. In the last three weeks of April 2021, average data consumption had soared between 19.9% and 22.7%. However, this time we saw little change in the average download speed experience, showing that mobile operators successfully prepared their networks to cope with the increased data demand by their users due to the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. In future, as operators continue to roll out the newly acquired spectrum, Opensignal will continue to assess the impact of increased capacity on Indian smartphone users’ mobile network experience.
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