Reliance Jio has set a new global record for 4G availability

Top ranking.
Top ranking.
Image: REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade
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After giving its local rivals a run for their money, Reliance Jio has now set a global record.

Recently, the telecom firm led by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, registered a national 4G availability rate of 97.5%: the highest in the world that London-based mobile analytics firm OpenSignal had ever recorded.

“In a country with the sheer geographical size and population base of India, where the landscape ranges from huge cities to high mountains and vast agricultural plains, Jio’s achievement of reaching 97.5% 4G availability in such a short time is truly astonishing,” OpenSignal said on April 17 in its semi-annual report on mobile networking in India.

Ambani’s Reliance is fairly new to the telecom game—Jio launched its 4G services only in September 2016, well after its other Indian rivals Airtel (2012) and Vodafone (2015). Ambani has sought to win subscribers from his opponents through aggressive pricing, sometimes even giving data plans away for free.

Here are three charts that show Jio and its opponents’ performance on key metrics in the Indian 4G race. The data points begin in April 2017, with OpenSignal’s first India networking report.

First, in 4G availability, Jio has always shown a massive lead over its industry opponents. In the last half year, however, Airtel has improved considerably, shooting up from 74% availability in November 2018 to 85.6% now.

Latency, a measure of the lag between sending a request and receiving a response, is measured in milliseconds (ms)—meaning the lower the score, the better. Jio, at 62.5 ms, scored the highest among Indian telcos.

Interestingly, Jio’s massive improvement since April 2017, when it scored 86.61 ms, has coincided with deterioration from all other telcos. The other three have worse latency rates now than they did then.

4G download speed, however, is one metric in which Jio has not excelled in comparison to its opponents. Airtel is the undisputed king in this area, with its performance at 10.1 megabits per second (Mbps), far outstripping its rivals, which range between 6.3 (Jio) and 7.1 (Vodafone). Jio has, however, considerably improved its download speed since April 2017, while all the other telcos have gotten slower since then.