OpenSignal Insights

Singapore’s secret mobile broadband weapon: Latency

When it comes to download and upload speeds, few countries can match the raw power of Singapore’s LTE networks. But Singapore doesn’t just shine in connection throughput. It’s also a global leader in latency, which is effectively the response time of a network. The lower latency is on a network, the better experience you’ll receive on a host of mobile applications and services, from web browsing to voice over IP to real-time multiplayer gaming.

Every time you click a link, press play on a video, or feint left in a server-hosted action game, your phone generates a data request, which must traverse the network, querying a server for content. The time it takes for that request to reach its destination and the data to be returned is the latency of the network. A similar principle applies to communications services like VoIP and video chat. The less delay the network introduces into the chat stream the more your session will behave like a real-time conversation, rather than two people talking over one another.

So what is a good latency? The lower the latency score, the better. Anything below 50 milliseconds is adequate for most applications we use on the mobile phones, but a latency of 30ms or less is exceptional. Very few of the 4G networks OpenSignal tracks are able to register sub-30ms latencies in our measurements, but according to our last State of Mobile Networks report, Singapore had two of them: M1 and Singtel. And their scores become even more impressive when we step back and look at overall latency. Users don’t always have access to an LTE connection, and as they go throughout the course of their days, they often find themselves falling back on 3G networks, which tend to have have much slower latencies than 4G networks. So the true test of an operator’s network response time is its ability to maintain a consistently low latency across its 3G and 4G data networks.

Latency- Singapore

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Multiple operators across the globe hit simultaneously by Ericsson network outage

OpenSignal has identified that December 6th’s mobile network outage hit multiple operators at the same time across the globe.

Analyzing availability data for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile technologies across hundreds of networks, we found three operators where smartphone users experienced a significant and sudden drop in LTE availability: Mobifone in Vietnam; SoftBank in Japan; and O2 in the UK.

Smartphone users on O2 UK’s network suffered the worst hit with 4G/LTE services taking almost a full day to return to normal. By comparison, Softbank and Mobifone were able to restore normal service within six and seven hours respectively.


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Maxis leads in Malaysia peak download speeds — but Celcom is close behind

Not all LTE networks are created equal, and few countries exemplify that maxim more than Malaysia. In OpenSignal’s analysis of peak download speeds in Malaysia, we found that there were vastly different capabilities across the six major operators’ networks. The fastest 4G peak speeds we measured were well over 70 Mbps, while the slowest were under 25 Mbps.

Malaysia peak speed

First let’s discuss what we mean by peak speed. Our peak download speed metric takes the average of the fastest 2% of all connections our users find. The score represents the most optimized connections on an operator’s network — speeds unfettered by network congestion, service restriction or technical limitations. Though a subscriber might occasionally find themselves with a connection akin to their operator’s peak speed, the occurrence is likely rare. What peak speed gives us, though, is an indication of true technical capabilities of the network itself.

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Movistar and Vodafone tied in our Spain 4G peak speed analysis

When it comes to mobile network speeds in Spain, it was something of a two-horse race in our last State of Mobile Networks report. Movistar won our 3G download speed award, Vodafone took both overall speed and 4G upload — but the two drew for our coveted 4G download speed prize. So we drilled down a bit deeper into our 4G download data by looking at their peak speeds, where we discovered another tie between these fierce Iberian rivals.

What do we mean by peak speed? Our peak speed metric is a measure of the fastest speeds OpenSignal’s users experience on Spain’s networks. By examining only the fastest tests we record, we minimize the impact of technical or congestion limitations, and are thus able to provide an estimate of the optimal speeds our users in Spain experience in real-world conditions. Peak speed is different to the theoretical maximum speeds that some operators publish — the “up to 600 Mbps”-type claims — and that users themselves will never realistically be able to access. For more on OpenSignal’s metrics, click here.

Spain peak download

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Vodafone Idea set to bring a new upload speed powerhouse to India mobile

Vodafone and Idea are in the final stages of merging their Indian operations, potentially creating an upload speed powerhouse in the market. Idea recently won OpenSignal’s Upload Experience award in our India Mobile Network Experience Report, with a score nearly 25% faster than its closest rival’s. The operator also topped our 4G upload speed table, with a 30% faster score — and a look at 4G upload speeds across India’s four main national operators over the past 10 months of 2018 shows Idea has led in this category for some time. But the other key trend to note is the second-place operator for 4G upload speed in India: Vodafone.

What’s the importance of mobile upload speed? This metric is often overlooked in favor of headline-grabbing download speed, but upload is becoming increasingly important as consumer mobile habits shift. Smartphone users are moving away from downloading and consuming to uploading and creating content, meaning upload speeds are becoming more and more important to the mobile experience.

Upload speeds are typically slower than download, as current mobile broadband technologies tend to be focused on providing the best possible downstream rates for users consuming content. And in India, our analysis shows 4G upload speeds for all four operators have dropped since the start of 2018, most likely as a result of increased network congestion as data demands grow. But the combined network power of Vodafone Idea should help the merged operator overcome these challenges — allowing it to not only improve upload speeds, but also mount a serious challenge in our other mobile experience metrics.

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Claro corrals two awards in OpenSignal’s Argentina report

The gaucho is an Argentine icon. Brave, skillful and cunning, these Latin cowboys have ruled the plains of South America for centuries. And in the mobile world, we’ve seen one operator show enough horse sense to lasso two of our mobile network experience awards. Claro’s growth has been the highlight of our analysis in our latest State of Mobile Networks: Argentina report, as the operator has come from a fairly distant third place to win two awards, while it showed the greatest improvements of all operators across most of our other categories.

Claro managed to gallop ahead in the close-run race for 3G download speed, with a gain of over 13% to win our award following a tie with Personal six months ago. Claro also rounded up our 4G upload speed award with a score of 6.2 Mbps, following a fall in previous winner Personal’s score of nearly 14% to 5.5 Mbps.. But Argentina’s other mobile wranglers Personal and Movistar have also made gains, notably in 4G availability where all three operators have now passed the 75% post.

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4G networks were the most affected by Sulawesi earthquake

OpenSignal measured the impact on smartphone users’ experience before and in the aftermath of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake with epicentre on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, on Friday September 28, 2018. The earthquake sparked a tsunami with waves up to 6m high, and together they caused wide destruction to the city of Palu and the nearby area. The impact on mobile technology was extensive but according to our data it did not cause a complete service blackout throughout the whole area.

4G services took almost two weeks to return to normal

OpenSignal observed a drastic decline in 4G availability, with the service requiring almost two weeks to return back to the previous 30 days’ average for our smartphone users.


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Stuttgart motors into the lead in German cities 4G speeds

Stuttgart is often credited as the home of the automobile, and the west German city remains the home of some of Europe’s most powerful cars including Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Daimler. But Stuttgart is now showing its power in another sector where speed matters, racing into pole position as OpenSignal’s top city in Germany for 4G download and upload.

In our analysis of 10 of Germany’s largest cities, Stuttgart came top in both our LTE speed categories with an average download speed of 34.8 Mbps and an upload score of 11 Mbps. The city was followed fairly closely by Dusseldorf, which finished second in both our metrics with a score of 33 Mbps for 4G download and 10.4 Mbps for upload speed. Frankfurt also deserves a mention, as despite coming at the bottom of the 10 cities we analyzed for download, the Rhine-Main city came third in our 4G upload race with a score of 10.3 Mbps.

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AT&T Mexico’s download speeds head south in OpenSignal’s new report

Telcel captured five of OpenSignal’s seven awards in our State of Mobile Networks report for Mexico — and it accomplished that feat with practically no movement in our metrics. With the exception of overall download speed, Telcel’s results stayed flat over the last six months, but its rival AT&T saw its download speed measurements drop considerably in our results, which allowed Telcel to dominate our awards chart.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Blok 70

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Blok 70

Our analysis show that AT&T’s average 4G download speed fell 30% from 21.7 Mbps to 15.2 Mbps since our last Mexico report, and its average overall download fell by 4 Mbps to 12.3 Mbps. In the spring, AT&T introduced new prepaid unlimited 4G data plans under the Unefon brand that placed stiff restrictions on download speed, which may have had an indirect impact on AT&T’s speed results. While we didn’t include any Unefon measurements in our analysis of AT&T’s speeds, the operator’s postpaid and prepaid customers share the same LTE network. The success of these new unlimited plans may be increasing the average volume of data consumed per subscriber, which could cause speeds to drop for postpaid customers.

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AIS and DTAC make their mark in OpenSignal’s new Thailand analysis

OpenSignal’s new State of Mobile Networks report for Thailand shows that you can’t take a leading position for granted in that country’s dynamic mobile market. TrueMove H has dominated our speed and availability metrics for the last few OpenSignal reports. But in our most recent look at the Thai mobile landscape, we saw a new winner in our 4G availability analysis as well as an up-and-coming challenger in our 4G and overall download speed rankings.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Marko Mikkonen

Image courtesy of Flickr user Marko Mikkonen

AIS led in 4G availability in the new report, beating out both TrueMove and DTAC. What’s more, AIS has crossed the 90% 4G availability threshold, meaning our users were able to find an LTE signal on its network in nine out of every 10 attempts — a significant milestone for the operator. 4G reach, however, remains excellent for all of Thailand’s major operators, as all three had 4G availability scores greater than 83%.

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