How Fast is 4G in India

Since the adaption of 4G LTE technology, has Indian telecom sector offering the super fast 4G services to its customers? Read on to know more…

Generally speaking, 4G means higher speed in terms of Internet access for the mobile subscribers all over the world. But has Indian telecom companies been able to offer the so called super fast 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology to its customers?

Last year when Bharti Airtel launched 4G services in India, initially it offered 4G data services at 3G rates. In the initial phase of its launch, several customers shifted to the newer 4G technology. After all, who does not want more speed at the same price? Obviously, faster speed means faster access to checking emails, sending and receiving messages over WhatsApp, checking Facebook and Twitter and many more faster usage of Internet. Of course, 4G also means faster streaming of media services like videos and games for the subscribers. It also means if we can change settings of our apps and proactively manage the data consumption, we can reduce your 4G bill. All these are the real advantages of 4G LTE technology, but again the million dollar question is — has the mobile subscribers in India witnessing the super fast 4G data speed after migrating to the 4G services?

Ground Reality

The ground reality is that the adoption of the next-generation 4G service is happening at a pace that is much slower than expected. The reality is that after a year, the largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, launched LTE services across 350 cities and towns, the 4G subscriber base in India is only 6.5 million. Of this, over 5 million are clients of Bharti alone.

According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as India is expected to have 90 million 4G subscribers by 2018 — India is still an emerging 4G market compared to countries like China, South Korea, Japan or the US, who have adopted and established the 4G technology. Global research firm Ovum reported that at the end of 2015, there were 1.05 billion LTE subscribers across the world, with China accounting for 35%, the US for 21% and Japan 9%. In fact, China, which is the driver of next-generation mobile broadband technology adoption, launched LTE way back in 2013 and Japan rolled it out in 2010.

Given the slower pace of adaptation of 4G services in India, even the Reliance Industries ambition of acquiring 100 million subscribers within the first year of Jio’s launch may not be that easy. But India is expected to be a unique market and unpredictable as several subscribers may simply migrate directly from 2G to 4G.


Ericsson expects the global smart phone connections to grow four-fold from the present to 810 million in 2021. Eventually, it is projected that LTE networks will cover only half of India’s population by 2021, while 3G technology would cover 90% of the population.

According to GSMA Intelligence Report titled “The Mobile Economy (Asia Pacific) 2016”, 4G will account for 7% of India’s total mobile connections by 2020. All though India currently has approximately 200 million smart phones, data penetration levels remain lower.

A Brief Conclusion

The adoption of 4G is at a slower pace due to the slower 4G speed in most parts of India. But Ericsson expects that both 3G and 4G networks to gain momentum, and account for 65% of total subscriptions by 2021. On a brighter side, the adoption of 4G LTE has been faster than 3G as more powerful devices are available at affordable prices.

Author’s Info.

R. Manoj

The author is a Senior Editor at Bitstream Mediaworks.
He has an active interest in IT Security.

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The author is a Senior Editor at BitStream Mediaworks.

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