In OpenSignal’s September Mobile Networks Update for the UK, EE was the runaway winner of our nationwide 4G speed award in the UK. When we drill down the regional level, EE makes a similarly strong showing, but it faces some stiff competition from 3 in a few places. Following up on our UK report, we decided to take a closer look at 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone to see how their 4G performance stacked up in England’s nine official regional divisions as well as in Scotland and Wales.
As you can see from the awards map above covering the June-August test period, EE either won outright or tied for first place in all 11 areas, but in three regions where we recorded a statistical draw, The U.K.’s smallest operator 3 was the challenger. You can see the breakdown of each operator’s speeds in the bar chart below:
EE’s ‘Time on 4G’ announcement was a blast from the past and an epiphany all at once. OpenSignal has been measuring the ‘Time on 4G’ of mobile users for years and has long been calling on operators and the industry to do the same. Friday’s announcement that EE has heeded our call is a major step forward and a huge endorsement for OpenSignal’s approach. It’s one small step for EE, and one massive step for measuring what matters most — what consumers actually experience on mobile networks.
‘Time on 4G’ was one of the first metrics OpenSignal introduced. While we have since changed the name to ‘4G Availability’ the principle is the same. We measure the proportion of time users spent connected to 4G networks. This is a user-centric approach that assesses how coverage is reflected in users’ everyday experience. OpenSignal has long said that the legacy ways of talking about coverage need to be updated. Population Coverage’ only measures whether there is coverage at your home location and ‘Geographical Coverage’ treats all areas of land equally and doesn’t reflect the importance of providing coverage in a highly populated area versus a remote location where no one actually visits. In this modern connected world, coverage is too important to get wrong, and OpenSignal continues to call on the industry to move towards measuring coverage with a user-centric approach. Indeed, the time has come for the industry to abandon drive test simulations as a proxy for measuring real user experience.
Furthermore, industry watchers absorbed by the promise of 5G may have missed the parallel trend gaining traction in the industry, which EE’s announcement perfectly illustrates. In our latest State of LTE Global Report, LTE availability saw major gains around the world and at every tier of 4G development, indicating a massive operator focus on boosting accessibility to 4G signals globally — a focus we expect will continue in 2018.
Which of OpenSignal’s other bold steps will the industry follow next? Perhaps they will publish typical speed instead of best-case speed, a move embraced by the recent Ofcom and the CAP rulings? Perhaps they will abandon operator-centric performance measurements in favor of publishing more easily understandable, and relevant, experience metrics? While the industry considers its options, watch for new innovations in measuring real-world consumer mobile experience from OpenSignal in 2018.
Meantime, to our friends at EE: As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery.
Costa Rica definitely has some catching up to do in the global 4G race. In our latest State of LTE report, we found Costa Rica to be the second slowest in terms of average 4G download speeds among the 77 countries we examined. But the Central American nation is making steady progress in improving LTE signals and speeds, as we see in our most recent national report published today
Partnering with Sutel, we analysed over 117 million measurements drawn from over 9,500 devices to compare the 3G and 4G experiences offered by the three key mobile operators in the country: Movistar, Kölbi and Claro.
Thailand is a relative newcomer on the LTE market, with the first networks launched four years ago and heavier investments to deploy 4G taking place a few years later. But younger most definitely doesn’t mean weaker: mobile users in Thailand have better access to 4G than those in the United Kingdom, France or New Zealand.
But having great availability doesn’t guarantee a stellar 4G experience; when we analysed the average 4G download speeds our users were experiencing, it painted a very different picture.
In our very first State of Mobile Networks: Thailand report, published today, we analysed the 3 main national operators: AIS, DTAC and TrueMove to see who provided the best availability, speed and latency to mobile users. Our first report and analysis is based on over 400 million measurements, collected from almost 28,000 devices over the course of three months (July through September 2017).
In the business of mobile measurement, the term “coverage” can be a nebulous concept. Depending on who’s tossing the word around, it can mean many things. It can mean coverage in the purely geographic sense, representing the total percentage of a landmass where a network signal is present. Or it can mean population coverage, which is an abstracted metric representing the percentage of residential doorsteps where you can get a connection.
At OpenSignal, we’ve always felt the most important thing is the coverage that consumers see on an everyday basis. So when we started measuring network experience many years ago, instead of using the usual coverage definitions, we created a new one based on a very simple calculation: how often consumers are connected to a network, regardless of where they happen to be. And to avoid any confusion with the other types of coverage, we gave that metric a very distinct name: Availability. If an operator has a 4G availability score of 80%, that means that across its subscriber base, users were able to find a 4Gsignal in eight out of every ten attempts. It’s as simple as that.
Today, however, we’re introducing a new experimental metric that looks at coverage from a different angle. This new metric is called place coverage, and it looks at the geographic reach of a network, taking into account where consumers are able to latch onto a network signal, not just when. Our availability metric is by no means going away, but place coverage eventually will provide another tool for understanding the nuances of coverage — and how actual consumers experience it.
Last month OpenSignal published its State of Mobile Networks: Malaysia report, examining the 3G and 4G experience provided by the Southeast Asian country’s large complement of mobile operators. Today, we’re drilling down into that data a bit more to see how those six operators’ 4G services stacks up in Malaysia’s largest city and political and economic center: Kuala Lumpur.
We looked at 4G availability and 4G speeds in Kuala Lumpur between June 1 and August 31 so we could compare the results directly against the national averages we recorded for each operator in our report. Let’s start with 4G availability.
If having a fast 4G connection is your thing, you might want to pick the Mall of America over the a casino on the Las Vegas Strip for your next weekend getaway. Minneapolis is the fastest major city in America when it comes to LTE, according to OpenSignal data.
Mobile 360 LATAM is running in full gear in Bogotá this week, with one of the hottest topics, 5G, in the centre of discussions both on and off the stage.
But as we pointed out in our blogpost earlier this week, most of Latin America still has some catching up to do in terms of 4G availability and speed. Therefore it came as no surprise that the big priority for many operators is to get more people on mobile broadband. For most Latin American operators moving to the fifth generation of wireless tech is a plan for another day. But not for all.
But before we dive in, have a look at the presentation by OpenSignal CEO, Brendan Gill highlighting some key findings on Latin America’s 4G state from our global State of LTE report.
Video source: GSMA
After setting the base on 4G, Brendan Gill conducted a fireside chat with Marcelo Cataldo, CEO of Tigo Colombia on his company’s plans for rolling out new technologies as well as his thoughts on the necessary regulatory changes for improving connectivity in the region.
While most operators referred to 5G as a “distant dream”, Cataldo announced that Tigo would be launching 5G trials in a mere few weeks, the first in Colombia to do so.
Video source: GSMA
It’s not likely 5G will be coming to the region very soon, but launching these kinds of pilots early on could help Colombia prepare for the unique challenges 5G most certainly will create.
While our State of LTE report covers more than a dozen Latin American countries, we decided to drill down on the seven countries we publish in-depth analyses on each year: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru. These seven countries offer a snapshot of the overall 4G trends across the region. For comparison purposes we’ve drawn on data not only from today’s report but our previous two State of LTE reports published in June 2017 and November 2016 respectively.
It may be an open question whether Sprint and T-Mobile will move forward with their merger plans, but that hasn’t stopped speculation on what the future mega-operator would look like if they somehow do succeed. Wall Street has poured over the financial and business implications of the deal while the tech media has latched onto the consumer and competitive repercussions of losing the U.S.’s fourth mobile service option. But what impact would the merger have on the two operator’s network plans? How would SprinT-Mo affect the evolution of mobile broadband technology in the U.S.?
Those are the questions OpenSignal CEO Brendan Gill answers in a guest column published in Light Reading on Monday. By merging, Sprint and T-Mobile would have a fascinating set of networks, technologies and spectrum, which it could combine to create a one heck of a 4G network. In his column Brendan explains how, starting with the potential fate of Sprint’s CDMA network:
“First off, Sprint’s CDMA network will almost certainly land on the scrap heap. CDMA is a dying technology, and operators worldwide have now traded in their CDMA infrastructure for UMTS/HSPA networks to conform to what has become the de facto standard for 3G. When the time comes for Sprint and T-Mobile US Inc. to unify their 2G and 3G services under a single technology, T-Mobile’s GSM and HSPA system will win out.
You need only look at the history of the US telecom industry to see this same scenario played out. When AT&T bought Leap Wireless in 2014 and T-Mobile acquired MetroPCS in 2013, both acquirers shut down the CDMA networks of the operators they bought, re-farming their spectrum for new 4G services.”
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