5G download speeds in India reached 500 Mbps on test networks with Reliance Jio Infocomm clocking almost 600 Mbps median download speed on its 5G network in Delhi, according to a report by network intelligence and connectivity insights company Ookla.

In the national capital, Airtel reached nearly 200 Mbps median download speed at 197.98 Mbps while Jio recorded 598.58 Mbps since June 2022, says Ookla.

Telecom operators' median download speeds varied the most since June 2022 in Kolkata, the report says. Airtel's median download speed was 33.83 Mbps while Jio had a much faster median download speed at 482.02 Mbps.

In Mumbai, one of the most densely populated cities in India, Airtel fell behind Jio once again, reaching 271.07 Mbps median download speed compared to Jio's 515.38 Mbps median download since June 2022, according to Ookla.

In Varanasi, Jio and Airtel achieved closer parity, with Airtel achieving a 5G median download speed at 516.57 Mbps to Jio's 485.22 Mbps median download speed since June 2022.

"Operators have been testing their networks before the October 1 launch. We've already seen a wide range of 5G download speeds: from low double-digit (16.27 Mbps) to a mindblowing 809.94 Mbps, which points to the fact that the operators are still recalibrating their networks. We expect these speeds to be more stable moving forward as these networks will enter the commercial stage," says Ookla.

According to the Speedtest Global Index, India ranked 117th in the world for mobile download speed at 13.52 Mbps in August 2022. These new 5G results show that 5G speeds are far superior than India's existing network, says Ookla.

"While we need to approach these early results with caution, 5G devices are already showing they can achieve much faster speeds, at least under artificial controlled testing circumstances e.g., no network congestion and ideal network coverage," the report says.

During the recent spectrum auction, Jio acquired the most spectrum, especially in the highly sought-after C-band spectrum, and Jio was the only operator that acquired the 700 MHz band. This gives Reliance Jio an advantage compared to providers who have acquired only C-band, especially since the low-band spectrum allows for better indoor signal penetration in urban areas and also better coverage in rural areas.

"Jio's 5G performance differs depending on the spectrum band it uses. Jio's 5G network using the C-band (n=78) results in performance ranging between 606.53 Mbps and 875.26 Mbps median download speed. While 5G networks using the lower – 700 MHz frequency band (n=28) so-called coverage band, gives speeds lower than100 Mbps median download speed, ranging between 78.69 Mbps and 95.13 Mbps. Airtel, on the other hand, achieved speeds from 365.48 Mbps to 716.85 Mbps deploying 5G utilizing only its C-band spectrum holding," the report further says.

Operators have an existing addressable base of devices that they can target from the start, and over the past year the number of 5G-capable devices has been on the rise.

89% of Indian smartphone users are ready to upgrade to 5G, says Ookla. Among Speedtest users, Jio saw the largest increase in 5G-capable devices (67.4%), followed by Airtel (61.6%), and Vi India (56%).

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