Telecom users are “interested in understanding which operator has the highest video experience score,” says Ian Fogg, vice president analysis at Opensignal. Fogg told TelecomTalk that video consumption has become one of the “largest drivers of mobile data usage” largely due to the improvements to smartphone display. Opensignal, a mobile analytics company in late March, 2021, released its Mobile Network Experience report with the company highlighting that the Indian telecom operators recorded “improvements” across the majority of its metrics. The company said that the “mobile network experience” has continued to remain as a “key indicator” for telecom users switching operators especially as “price differentiation” between operators “reduces in India.”
Video Experience Emerges As Key Metric for Telecom Users
Opensignal said that Bharti Airtel, the second largest wireless operator in India won three of its “experiential metrics” including video experience, voice app and games experience. Vi, the third largest wireless operator is said to have won both of Opensignal’s speed metrics including upload speed experience and download speed experience. Further, Reliance Jio, the largest mobile operator in India “as usual” won 4G availability and 4G coverage experience metric.
“As smartphone displays have become larger, with improved contrast and colours, more and more mobile users watch video on their smartphones for longer periods and so are interested in understanding which operator has the highest Video Experience score,” Fogg told TelecomTalk.
With a score of 60.3 points, Airtel is said to be in the “good” category on Opensignal’s video experience metric while Vi is “snapping on its heels” with a score of 60.1 points. In the previous Mobile Network Experience report for September 2020, Vi is said to have scored 54.2 points with Opensignal highlighting that the third largest operator recorded the “greatest improvement.” Airtel in comparison recorded a 2.8 points growth since the previous Mobile Network Experience report.
“Improvements in video experience usually come from either reducing the time users’ see video playback stalling and improving how quickly video streams start to play,” Fogg said.
Reliance Jio and the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) recorded scores of 53.3 points and 38.6 points on the Opensignal video experience metric for March, 2021.
Similarly, ICICI Securities, a firm engaged in financial services in a report on Thursday said that the telecom operators are “becoming critical” in “pushing” the digital entertainment ecosystem.
“Entertainment industry is fast adopting digital media, particularly for video,” ICICI Securities said in its report. “India has seen significant adoption of OTT for snacking videos even in long formats. Operators have developed their own apps such as Airtel XStream, My Jio, and Vi Movies and TV, which they hope to monetise in the future.”
ICICI Securities also highlighted that the data usage now ranges from virtual meetings to online shopping as compared to earlier days where “data was used predominantly for communications” and entertainment.
Spectrum Auctions to Shake Competitive Landscape
Meanwhile, Opensignal in its Mobile Network Experience report for March, highlighted that Airtel only had a narrow lead on Vi in the games experience metric. According to Opensignal, Airtel scored 58.5 points with Vi scoring 58 points while “Jio and BSNL were further away” with the operators scoring 48.1 points and 36.9 points respectively. The games experience metric was introduced by the company in the September 2020 report with Opensignal highlighting that the metric scores are affected by “mobile network conditions including latency, packet loss and jitter.”
“We believe in testing the real-world experience of users and games experience is an excellent approach to understanding the multiplayer gaming experience,” Fogg said. “Games Experience is important for many mobile users. Operators that wish to acquire or retain mobile gamers will be in a stronger position if they have high Games Experience scores.”
The Mobile Network Experience report for March also said that the telecom market in India is “changing” as the government held the spectrum auctions for the first time since 2016. The company said that “it will be interesting to see how the competition shapes up in India” as the operators “make use of the newly acquired spectrum” to enhance capacity and coverage.
“Spectrum is a critical asset for mobile operators,” Fogg said. “So, the results of this and future spectrum auctions will help shape the competitive future position of each of India’s operators.”