Skip to main content

Mobile network experience varies significantly across South Asia

In this analysis, Opensignal delves into the mobile network experiences of smartphone users across the six most populated countries in South Asia, representing a collective population of more than two billion people — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Our findings show huge disparities across the region. India stands out for average download speeds, with its score of 41.7Mbps being over double that of its closest competitor — Bangladesh. However, Bangladesh outperforms both Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Download Speed Experience. Bangladesh also ties with India for the top upload speeds. Video and live video streaming experiences further underline India's dominance, with Bangladesh securing the second position, again outpacing Sri Lanka and Pakistan in both categories. Regarding the multiplayer mobile gaming experience, India is firmly in the lead, but there is ample room for improvement, as all six countries, including the top performers, rate Poor (40-65) or worse.

The reliance on different network generations shapes these diverse experiences. Afghanistan and Nepal, for instance, lean heavily on older 2G and 3G networks, which significantly impact their overall performance. In contrast, India's strong emphasis on 4G and 5G is the driving force behind its top-tier mobile experiences. For Wi-Fi access, dynamics vary significantly across countries, with Afghanistan, India, and Sri Lanka being on the lower end of the usage compared to Bangladesh and Pakistan. 


Commencing with mobile speeds, India is the undisputed leader in South Asia. Our Indian smartphone users see the fastest average download speeds in the region, clocking in at a remarkable 41.7Mbps — 2.6 times faster than India’s closest rival, Bangladesh. The overall download speeds in Bangladesh average 15.8 Mbps, surpassing Pakistan by 16.3% and outperforming Nepal and Sri Lanka by a noteworthy 32.1 and 38.3%, respectively. Afghanistan lags significantly behind, with an average download speed of just 2.6Mbps.

Switching to upload speeds, Bangladesh and India share the top position, with our smartphone users in these countries enjoying average upload speeds of 5.8-5.9Mbps. Pakistan and Nepal are in the middle of the pack, with upload speeds ranging from 4.5-4.8Mbps, while Sri Lanka follows closely behind. Afghanistan, unfortunately, lags in this category as well, with the overall average upload speeds seen by our Afghani users averaging lower than 1Mbps.

Smartphone users in India also enjoy the most consistent mobile network experience in South Asia. Topping the charts in Consistent Quality, India boasts a score of 57.9%, outpacing Sri Lanka, the second-place contender, by a notable 16.5 percentage points. Nepal and Bangladesh trail closely, both narrowly missing the 40% mark by less than a percentage point. Pakistan, on the other hand, has some catching up to do, with a score of just under 29.8%. Afghanistan, however, lags far behind with a score of 3.7%. Consistent Quality scores reflect the percentage of tests in which our smartphone users’ experience on a network is sufficient to support the requirements of more common demanding applications, such as video calling, uploading an image to social media, or using smartphone applications. Tests combine experience indicators such as download speed, upload speed, latency, jitter, packet discard, and time to first byte.   


India leads for both Video and Live Video Experience, with Bangladesh trailing as a close second. Sri Lanka comes third, leaving both Nepal and Pakistan behind in these categories.

For on-demand video streaming, our Indian users enjoy a Good (58-68) rating, meaning that they can generally stream at 720p or higher with acceptable loading times and minimal interruptions. Bangladesh rates as Fair (48-58), while Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan have Poor (under 48) ratings. A Poor Video Experience signifies that users usually face substantial loading delays or frequent stalling, often streaming at resolutions lower than 720p.

India also shines in the live video streaming segment with a Very Good (53-58) rating, scoring 53.6 points on a 100-point scale. Bangladesh, with 49.5 points, nestles in the Good (43-53) category. Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan manage a Fair (33-43) rating, while only Afghanistan is in the Poor (under 33) bracket. A Very Good Live Video Experience implies that users can typically stream live videos at 720p to 1080p, experiencing short loading times, infrequent stalling, and an acceptable live offset.

Turning to multiplayer mobile gaming in South Asia, there's much room for improvement in quality. India emerges at the apex for Games Experience, scoring 63.1 points out of 100, beating runners-up Sri Lanka and Bangladesh by 12.8 points and 13.1 points, respectively. However, despite these standings, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh all have Poor (40-65) Games Experience ratings. This suggests a significant chunk of users found the gaming quality subpar, often encountering delays in gameplay, lag in feedback, and an overall sense of impaired control. Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan fare even worse, with Very Poor (under 40) ratings.


A pivotal factor shaping the mobile network experience for users is the extent to which they connect to different network generations. Extensive reliance on older technologies such as 2G or 3G, which offer limited capabilities compared to 4G and 5G, is likely to result in an overall poorer user experience. Afghanistan lags in this regard, with a substantial 52.9% of our users predominantly connected to 3G networks.

In contrast, users in Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh spend between 12.4% to 14.8% of time connected to 3G networks, which drops to 5.8% in Sri Lanka. Our users in India spend the least proportion of time connected to 3G — 0.8%. Instead, they primarily connect through more efficient 4G and 5G networks, which underpin India's superior mobile network experience.

Across the globe, Internet accessibility remains a critical issue, with mobile connectivity often acting as a lifeline, especially in low to middle-income regions. This dependency on mobile networks is often a result of infrastructural and economic limitations. While high-speed fixed broadband services might be the gold standard in many developed countries, their cost and limited availability in challenging terrain make them less feasible in many parts of the world. The rugged and diverse landscapes of many regions, especially in countries with vast rural expanses, further compound this challenge.

Despite its burgeoning tech industries and rapidly growing urban centers, our Indian users — alongside those in Afghanistan — spend the lowest proportion of their time connected to Wi-Fi (Time on Wi-Fi) in South Asia, just above 16%. This might seem counterintuitive, but it underscores the broader issue of limited broadband infrastructure in many parts of these nations. 


On the other hand, the time on Wi-Fi in Bangladesh and Pakistan hovers between 34% and 42.3%. This is indicative of a growing trend where, even in developing economies, fixed broadband adoption by users in urban centers and more affluent regions is increasing, which translates to higher Wi-Fi usage. Despite its mountainous terrain and infrastructure challenges, Time on Wi-Fi in Nepal — 52.9% — is much greater than in other South Asian countries.

In Afghanistan, India and Sri Lanka, over a third of smartphone users are ‘mobile-only’ internet users. They rely solely on their mobile data, often due to the absence of reliable fixed broadband options. Conversely, in Nepal, less than 9% of users rely exclusively on mobile data. This underscores the regional disparities in infrastructure, economic conditions, and consumer behavior.

In South Asia, several countries have taken strides in deploying 5G networks. However, the presence of 5G connectivity across the region remains limited, with India leading the way while others are in the early stages. Access to 4G is not universal, and many still rely on 2G and 3G networks. Bridging this gap is vital for fostering economic growth and digital inclusivity in the region, especially given the significant proportion of our smartphone users in some South Asian countries that never connect to Wi-Fi.