US-based Ookla is one of the most preferred and reliable internet testing platforms in India. With the recent developments at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) suggesting that data-speed testers will have to share certification methodologies, the company claims to be in a dialogue with TRAI and has shared insights into the methodology and analysis. The company has 439 servers for testing speed in India. Doug Suttles, Co-founder and General Manager, Ookla talks about India's internet landscape and the company's plans for the coming year in an interview with Nidhi Singal. Excerpts
What kind of presence do you have in India?
Ookla started in 2006 and has had a global reach from the very beginning, including India. One of the things that sets Speedtest apart is the ability to test to a local server from anywhere in the world, which ensures the most accurate test result possible. In India, we have 439 servers for testing so that you can easily determine the speed of the internet where you are located. We are continuing to invest in new application platforms and features that will advance a person's internet testing capabilities, which we believe, is not only smart for growth but also a huge benefit to consumers.
How many users check their internet speeds on your platform in India?
For Q3-Q4 of 2017, over 106 million tests were actively taken with Speedtest in India by almost 27 million unique devices. Furthermore, at last count, we have 439 testing servers in India. This is critical because it ensures that everyone is able to test to a local server no matter where they take a Speedtest in India, which delivers the most accurate results possible.
While checking the Intent speeds, your platform often registers higher speeds as compared to other clients. Why is there so much of a difference?
The biggest reason is because we have so many servers in India, and because we have been building the Speedtest app for over 10 years to be the most accurate test possible. We stand behind the accuracy of our test and methodology as the most reliable way to test your internet connection. Since each testing service uses a different methodology, not uncommon to get varying results. And because there are so many factors at play, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what's causing the discrepancy. It could be a number of things: having a nearby server to test to, time of day, etc. We believe our methodology provides a thorough and more accurate view of the internet around the world than any other testing service or methodology.
What is the average speed one experiences over 4G, 3G, broadband and fiber in India?
In Q3-Q4 of 2017, average 3G connection in India showed download speeds of 3.98 Mbps, while 4G speeds in the same quarters are a bit faster with an average of 9.54 Mbps. Fixed broadband speeds in India are higher than mobile on average, as the mean download speed was 18.06 Mbps in Q3-Q4 of this year.
Where does India score in terms of speed and data when compared to other countries?
According to most recent data from Speedtest Global Index, India ranks 111th place in mobile and 70th place in broadband as of December 2017. Mobile ranking dropped two spots since the previous month, though broadband increased and boosted India's ranking up by six spots. Globally, India ranks beneath the average download and upload speeds in both mobile and broadband. The Global Index is updated monthly and is a great resource for tracking the country's global standing and improvements.
What is your outlook on the Indian telecom sector?
We believe the Indian telecom sector will continue to gain opportunities for advancement in the years to come. An ever-evolving focus on sophisticated network infrastructure will always be important. India is one of the geographically largest and most populated countries in the world, meaning a well laid out network that is able to handle high volumes of usage are key to support the internet needs of the Indian market. Additionally, being open to emerging technologies and ways of boosting network performance will be a helpful step in the development in the market.
According to Speedtest Intelligence data for Q4 2017, the 4G download speeds in India are just under 10Mbps. Considering the exponential growth in mobile video consumption, and global demand for high definition content, Indian operators will likely need to accelerate their plans for adding incremental capacity to the existing network in order to stay ahead of the demand.
While 4G and eventually 5G technology will improve end-user data rates, the main focus should be on improving cell sector capacity, boosting the spectral efficiency of the network, and significantly reducing latency. It will enable mobile operators to provide quality of service to mission critical applications as well as consumer IoT.
We have often experienced that when testing speed on a sluggish internet connection using speedtest.net, the speed boosts up instantly. Why does this happen?
Visiting Speedtest.net does not and should not affect the speed of any consumer's connection. That being said, we do take the possibility seriously. Because of this, we have employed various measures to monitor factors that could impact the performance of your Speedtest.
How important is the Indian market and what are your plans for 2018?
We are going to continue to provide the people of India with platforms and features that increase their understanding of their internet experience. In addition, we plan to continue sharing data and interesting insights into the state of Indian mobile and broadband internet. We're also excited to release some new features to our mobile apps, which will be discussing later this year.
With the rise of 4G in India and increasingly competitive offerings for consumers, I think we will see more people curious about the speed of their internet connection who take a Speedtest more frequently.