Chile’s 4G services experience growing pains as LTE networks mature

In OpenSignal’s new State of Mobile Networks report for Chile we witnessed the Andean country’s 4G evolution head in two distinct directions. On the one hand, 4G availability was on the rise in our latest test period, giving Chile’s growing 4G subscriber base more access to LTE connections more often. On the other hand, 4G speeds continued to suffer in our measurements as all of those new 4G customers vie for limited network capacity.

In our 4G availability category, we measured significant upticks in all four operators scores. Entel, Movistar and WOM are all well over the 70% availability mark, and even though Claro remained in last place in our measurements, it made the biggest gains in LTE availability since our last report, helping it close the gap with its competitors.

In 4G speed, though, we saw the opposite trend. 4G download speeds dropped for three of the four operators in our measurements, and this isn’t a new development. We’ve recorded declining LTE download speeds in Chile for the last two years. This shouldn’t be a big cause of concern though as we see this trend happening throughout Latin America and other regions where 4G is starting to reach maturity.

When operators first roll out LTE services, they typically have few 4G users to start with. Those initial customers often see extremely fast speeds as they get access to the full capacity of the LTE network. But as operators attract more customers to 4G service plans, that capacity gets further divided among a larger user base, which often causes average download speeds to fall. Right now Chile’s operators seem focused on extending the reach of their LTE services, but if they follow the same pattern we see in other developing 4G markets, they will eventually return their attention to speed and capacity, upgrading their networks accordingly.

You can read the full report here. If you’re a 4G subscriber in Chile we’d love to hear about your experience. Do you find 4G connections easier to find? Have your average download speeds fallen noticeably in the last year? Leave your impressions in the comments section below.

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