As 5G roll out continues, 49% subscribers report faster data experience but only 16% report improvement in call connection and drop issues
- ● 42% of 5G subscribers surveyed report no improvement while 19% report deterioration in call connection/drop issues post move to 5G services
- ● 31% 5G subscribers surveyed say no improvement in data speeds while 7% report deterioration
January 20, 2023, New Delhi: Even as the major telecom players Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio race to deploy 5G infrastructure for roll out of services in phases across the country, the common man continues to grapple with problems of call drop, poor mobile and internet connectivity, call disruption, cross connections among other issues. This scenario is not restricted to rural areas and small towns but also big cities and metros including Delhi and Mumbai.
So far Reliance Jio “True”, which joined the race just four days after Airtel launched its 5G Network operation on October 1st, 2022, has gained the lead with rollout across over 100 cities. It is too early to gauge the difference the 5G is going to make in the lives of common man and businesses and how many will be willing to invest in new mobile phones to be able to utilize the services.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which is not happy with the operators’ apathy to consumer complaints, is however, reportedly planning to wait for another 5-6 months assessing the performance given the large incentives that has been provided to the sector to help boost investment and ensure better services.
On Dec 28th, Telecom Secretary K Rajaraman is reported to have held a meeting with operators to discuss service quality-related issues, and possible further policy interventions for improving call quality. During the two-hour long meeting, operators are reported to have made a detailed presentation on current levels of service quality against stipulated benchmarks. DoT is taking a long-term view of the service quality-related matters and has asked players to identify problem areas and make suggestions on policy interventions that could improve the call connectivity. Besides policy-level measures, DoT is reportedly also looking at legal frameworks that can ensure a better quality of service.
Consumers who over the last couple of months switched over from 3G/4G to 5G services have however been sharing their experiences on the social media. In some cases, having invested in a new device during the festive season to avail the 5G services, the performance expectations were high. With 5G services now available in more than 130 cities across India and the feedback received from 5G users, LocalCircles conducted a national survey to understand user experiences so far. The survey received over 34,000 responses from consumers located in 185 districts of India. 67% respondents were men while 33% respondents were women. 61% respondents were from tier 1, 35% from tier 2 and 4% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
Only 16% of 5G subscribers surveyed feel call drop/connect situation has improved since their transition from 3G/4G services
Of the 11,520 respondents to the first LocalCircles survey question “How has the call drop / call connect situation improved as you migrated from 3G/4G to 5G services?”, only 4% stated it has “significantly improved” and 12% indicated “somewhat improved”. However, the majority found no improvement while 23% said, they couldn’t tell. The data shows that 42% felt there has been “no improvement/same as before”; 12% indicated that the services have in fact “somewhat deteriorated” and 7% felt the call connection/drop situation has “significantly deteriorated”. In summary, only 16% of the respondents indicated that the call connection/drop situation has improved since they upgraded to 5G services.
1 in 2 5G subscribers surveyed faced call connection and drop issues with over 25% of their calls; 28% claimed they have issues with over 50% of their calls
To the next survey question on “how has the 5G service been for you from a call connection and call drop standpoint?” 72% of the respondents had complaints. The data shows that 14% of over 11,000 respondents “still have call connection and call drop issues for 75% or more calls''; 14% “still have call connection and call drop issues for 50-75% of calls''; 22% “still have call connection and call drop issues for 25-50% of calls''; and another 22% “still have call connection and call drop issues for 0-25% of calls''. Only 14% of respondents have no complaints and 14% did not share any views. In summary, 1 in 2 or 50% 5G subscribers surveyed have faced call connection and call drop issues with over 25% of their calls and 28% of them claim they have issues with over 50% of their calls.
49% of 5G subscribers’ surveyed share that there has been some/significant improvement in data connection
The final survey question focused on understanding if the data connection quality for subscribers had improved post their transition to 5G services. It asked subscribers, “How do you find the 5G data connection as compared to the 3G/4G connection you had previously?” A total of 11,449 5G subscribers responded to this survey question with 49% sharing that there has been some or significant improvement in data connection. The data shows that 22% find the new connection is “significantly faster”; 27% find it “somewhat faster”; but 31% find “no improvement/same as 3G/4G”; and 7% find the new service “significantly slower”, while 13% reserved their input. While the user input is a bit more encouraging on the data speed or connection front than on call connection/drop experience, only 49% 5G subscribers confirming that speed is better with 5G is a cause of concern that Government and operators must immediately look into.
When comparing the performance with 3G/4G, the new 5G connection appears to be marginally better. It may be too early to judge the performance, but going by consumer responses in a previous survey done in September 2022 when 56% mobile subscribers had indicated severe call drop and call connect issues, the new survey indicates that within months of its launch 5G has been able to make a small difference with 50% of mobile subscribers sharing continuing problem. Hopefully, as the 5G roll out across the country progresses the telecom operators will resolve the glitches that persist.
In summary, the survey finds that so far the user experience of 5G services is falling short of the user expectations. Going into 5G services, a LocalCircles survey in October 2022 had found that 58% mobile subscribers had indicated that they expected improvement on the call connection and call drop front while 51% were expecting improvement in data speeds post migrating to 5G. So far only 16% of 5G subscribers surveyed feel the call drop/connect situation has improved since the switch from 3G/4G services, while 50% 5G subscribers surveyed have faced call connection and call drop issues with over 25% of their calls and 28% of them claim they have issues with over 50% of their calls. The situation is a bit better on the data experience front with 49% subscribers confirming that their data connection has become faster post their switch to 5G services.
The need of the hour is for operators find out and fix the root cause of poor consumer experience with 5G so far and also create awareness amongst potential 5G users about what to expect. LocalCircles will escalate these findings to TRAI and Department of Telecommunications so that appropriate frameworks and policy interventions can be made to drive the necessary improvements.
The survey received over 34,000 responses from consumers located in 185 districts of India. 67% respondents were men while 33% respondents were women. 61% respondents were from tier 1, 35% from tier 2 and 4% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.
LocalCircles, India’s leading Community Social Media platform enables citizens and small businesses to escalate issues for policy and enforcement interventions and enables Government to make policies that are citizen and small business centric. LocalCircles is also India’s # 1 pollster on issues of governance, public and consumer interest. More about LocalCircles can be found on https://www.localcircles.com
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