Despite drawing flak from Reliance Jio after it proclaimed Bharti Airtel had fastest broadband network , data speed tester OOkla reiterated its neutral stance and managed to stand tall. In a chit-chat with Voice&Data, Doug Suttles, Co-Founder and General Manager at Ookla, talks about its methodology and how the Indian telecom sector has matured to fight the speed war.
Voice&Data: According to Ookla, India ranked top in broadband download speeds improvement in 2017, what are the reasons for this improvement?
Doug Suttles: Indian telecom sector has contemplated new technologies that boosted network performance. One such technologies is carrier aggregation, which is when mobile networks serve multiple LTE operators. Carrier aggregation can increase the capacity of networks, especially during peak times. New technologies do come with the caveat that it is usually only the latest devices that can access them, meaning consumers have to upgrade their devices to experience benefit.
India is witnessing an explosive growth in data usage and a lot of in-home data consumption is happening over fixed broadband that offers consistent speeds.
Voice&Data: What exactly is required in India for broadband speed improvement?
Doug Suttles: First and foremost is sufficient infrastructure. The strength and quality of networks is the baseline foundation required for faster speeds. Especially as technology advances, it is imperative that networks are built to adequately support emerging technologies. For instance, a network built to accommodate 3G speeds will struggle to fulfill the the modern demands of mobile consumers. Equally important is planning infrastructure that can provide service to the number of people accessing a given network.
Voice&Data: Share your perspective on the recent data speed war between Airtel and Reliance Jio. How Indian telecom operators are different from international telecom companies?
Doug Suttles: Competition between operators to provide the fastest speeds is very common in every country in the world. That competition ultimately ends up benefiting consumers, because it tends to result in the development of faster speeds.
Voice&Data: What is the growth strategy of Ookla and how they have excelled in becoming the world most trusted internet speedtest app?
Doug Suttles: We have excelled simply by providing the best free tool that consumers can use to measure the speed of their mobile and broadband internet connection. Anyone can take a Speedtest using our applications for Android, iOS, Google Chrome, Windows, macOS and of course at our flagship site Speedtest.net.
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.
Voice&Data: Is there any specific methodology or model that Ookla use for businesses and telecom companies? What all verticals Ookla serves?
Doug Suttles: Ookla data and analysis is based on the millions of consumer-initiated tests taken by real people using Speedtest every day. When someone wants to know the speed of their internet connection, they use Speedtest to get an accurate picture of how the internet where they are is working. This unbiased data is what businesses and telecom companies see and can use when they get access to our data.
Ookla works with a wide range of companies, including regulatory bodies and trade groups around the world, and with many of the world’s major mobile and fixed broadband operators who are interested in learning more about the performance of their networks and in identifying areas for improvement.
Voice&Data: What importance does browsing speeds holds for businesses and why it has become more critical?
Doug Suttles: Put simply, you are able to do more things easily on the internet when you have faster speeds. Businesses with slow internet may have a harder time accessing content that takes up more bandwidth, like video or large file downloads. This can slow down productivity and cause frustrations, including in the production and sharing of content.
Voice&Data: Has Ookla found any interesting trends on speeds in urban, rural, semi-urban India?
Doug Suttles: It depends whether you’re looking at mobile or fixed broadband speeds. Indian mobile speeds are about the same. Broadband speeds are slower in rural locations by about half.
Voice&Data: How do you plan to have greater market penetration in India? What will be your strategy to strengthen Ookla’s presence in India?
Doug Suttles: We are going to continue to provide the people of India with platforms and features that increase their understanding of their internet experience. We also plan to continue sharing data and interesting insights into the state of Indian mobile and broadband internet.
Voice&Data: What are some of the steps needed to improve connectivity and network performance in the country? What is your perspective on the evolution of 5G technology in India.
Doug Suttles: India is right in the midst of deploying 4G technology — that typically precedes the deployment of 5G technology. Routinely we observe that as a technology improves, the usage of that technology increases. I think the same can be said for internet. In other countries where 4G has been fully adopted, consumption of content like high definition videos has risen.
Voice&Data: According to you, who is most trusted player in Indian telecom industry.
Doug Suttles: We don’t have a position on who is or is not trusted. Instead, we objectively analyze data collected through millions of tests taken with Speedtest to determine who is fastest in a market during a certain time period. Depending on the performance and development of networks, which operator is fastest in a market can and does change.
Our only interest is in providing accurate information to the people of India and all over the world. Whoever the data says is fastest at any time is who we will say is fastest.