Internet may not have had a great year in terms of content, privacy, and data security but the things were mostly good on the technology front. According to Ookla's Speedtest Intelligence platform, the worldwide mobile data speeds increased over 15 percent this year and the fixed broadband speeds were up more than 26 percent, from December 2017 to November 2018. In India, the mobile data speeds saw a growth similar to the global average, however the fixed-line Internet speeds jumped over 50 percent - the highest amongst the world's largest countries in terms of population. This Internet speed increase is encouraging but the country still has a long way to go, given India's average speeds are still almost half of the global average.
As per Ookla's November Speedtest index, India ranked 111 (9.93Mbps) in average mobile data speed and 65 (26.46Mbps) in average fixed broadband speed. As for the year, India had mean mobile download speeds of 9.11Mbps (a 15.2 percent improvement), and a mean fixed download speed of 23Mbps. The average global Internet speed for the year was 22.82Mbps and 46.12Mbps respectively for mobile and fixed broadband. For the entire year from December to November, Norway continued to lead the world in mobile Internet speeds with mean download speed of 63.19Mbps and Singapore is the king in fixed broadband speeds with mean mean download speed of 175.13Mbps.
With an increase of over 50 percent in Internet speeds, the fixed-broadband is showing an impressive growth rate in India. In fact, India's mean fixed broadband download speed improved the most among the world's 5 largest countries in 2018 - rising 50.4 percent compared to the previous year. This is in contrast with 42.5 percent in China, 39.4 percent in Brazil, 37.3 percent in the US, and 18.3 percent in Indonesia. Still the overall Internet ecosystem in the country is dominated by mobile devices. A massive chunk of India's Internet population connects to the Web using their smartphones. According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), only 7 percent of the Internet connectivity is provided through fixed-line connections, whereas the global average for the same is around 46 percent.
Gigabit Internet adoption is still in a nascent stage in India but 2018 brought the first real Gigabit expansion in cities like New Delhi and Chennai. Ookla revealed that New Delhi saw a massive 16,908 percent increase in Gigabit results from last year. Chennai clocked a similarly huge 7,481 percent increase. ISPs like ACT, Spectra are currently leading the Gigabit rollout in the country with the likes of Reliance Jio expected to join the fray over the coming months. The Mukesh Ambani-owned telco is currently ramping up the Gigafibre roll-out across the country, but the maximum speed available to the consumers seems to capped at 100Mbps.
5G and impact on global mobile Internet speeds
The world is gearing up for the arrival of the next big mobile network technology ‘5G' next year, which promises to offer blazing fast data speeds and increased capacity to accommodate devices. With theoretical peak speed around 10Gbps, the 5G networks are capable of a massive upgrade to the mobile data landscape but we are unlikely to see any major bump in the data speeds anytime soon. The 5G is just beginning to start rolling out in markets like the United States with South Korea expected to join next year, followed by Japan in late 2019 and China in 2020. The 5G networks won't be available to the Indian consumers until as late as 2022.