OpenSignal Insights

Kolkata is India’s top region for 4G availability

Kolkata is popularly known as the City of Joy, after the novel and film of the same name. or centuries the region has been celebrated as India’s capital of arts and culture — and now its citizens have yet another reason to be proud, as the metro region has topped OpenSignal’s list for 4G availability.

We analyzed our data for 4G availability across all of India’s 22 telecoms circles in the 90 days from the start of May 2018, and found Kolkata came top with a hugely impressive score of 90.7%. Indeed, all the other 21 circles saw LTE reach scores over 80% in our measurements — quite remarkable for a country which has only had 4G since 2012.

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How to avoid “the weakest link” to deliver a great mobile video experience

Mobile video traffic is enormous and growing. Consider the case of YouTube and its billion-plus users: over half of total video views happen on mobile devices. On Twitter, the role of mobile for video is even greater: 90% of total Twitter video views are on mobile. The result is that, as Cisco reports, mobile video is growing faster than TV viewing across all platforms, and Ericsson and most mobile operators see mobile video as the major driver of mobile data traffic growth.

A single weak link anywhere will likely lead to a poor consumer video experience: whether the weak link is in the creation of the video, the encoding, the transmission to the consumer, the video player software or at any point in between. But delivering mobile video is much, much harder than on traditional broadcast systems, or on fixed broadband networks, where there are predictable numbers of users in a given location and there is very high network capacity.

While video vendors focus on the technical characteristics of creating and distributing video, OpenSignal believes it’s important to consider the complete video experience by assessing all factors together, including how consumers perceive the resulting video quality.

Video viewing

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Vodacom races ahead in South Africa 4G speeds

Vodacom has now firmly established itself as the king of speed across our South African metrics, coming top in all of OpenSignal’s national network speed and latency categories. The operator showed its rivals a clean pair of heels in all four of our national speed metrics in our most recent State of Mobile Networks report, including the coveted 4G download speed award. The leader increased its LTE download speed by over 3 Mbps in our measurements, while its rivals’ speeds have stayed fairly stagnant over the past six months since our last report.

Vodacom also comfortably won our overall speed category with a score of over 17 Mbps, followed by MTN with 15 Mbps while the other two operators both scored under 10 Mbps. Cell C did see an increase of some 1.5 Mbps, likely the result of increases in our 3G download speed and 4G availability measurements. In our 4G upload category, Vodacom’s winning average speed of 8.5 Mbps was more than double that of fourth-placed Telkom.

South Africa cheetah speed zoom

Photo by Cara Fuller on Unsplash

But it was MTN that topped our coveted national 4G availability metric, extending its lead to 6 percentage points ahead of key rival Vodacom. There were just 12 percentage points separating all four operators, as our LTE availability scores were much closer than those in speed.

In South Africa’s biggest cities, Vodacom dominated our awards, scoring highly in all six of our speed metrics and scoring a clean sweep in 4G latency. MTN won our 4G availability award in two cities but was held to a surprise draw by Cell C in Cape Town. But this was the only time the other two operators featured in any of our awards tables, and we are seeing a “two tier” pattern emerging in our South Africa mobile experience analysis with Cell C and Telkom falling some way behind the top two.

To read our full report, please visit the State of Mobile Networks: South Africa page. And if you’re a smartphone user in South Africa, have you seen 4G speeds increasing? Is the gap between the two tiers of operators getting wider? Please let us know about your mobile experience in the comments below.

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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.

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Where to vacation in Mexico for a good 4G experience

Summer may be nearly over, which means Mexico’s biggest national holiday is less than a month away. On Sept. 16, millions of Mexicans will celebrate their country’s independence with festivals and parades while many of them take advantage of the two-day national break to vacation in other cities across the country. As people make their Independence Day plans, we thought it would be interesting to look at the type of 4G experience consumers can expect in some of Mexico’s most popular tourism cities.

For this analysis, OpenSignal examined data in 17 large cities that are popular tourist destinations in Mexico — from Cancún at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in the east to the border city of Mexicali in the Northwest. We looked at average 4G download and upload speeds and the level of 4G access in each of those places over a 90-day period between May and July to see how some of Mexico’s most popular vacation spots stacked up.

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The US may yet catch its global peers in 4G speeds

OpenSignal recently published its State of Mobile Networks report for the U.S., and in it we tracked some significant increases in 4G speed across the country’s mobile networks. The most interesting speed results we saw weren’t on the national level; rather, they were in big cities. In New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Kansas City we measured average LTE download speeds of 30 Mbps or greater on Verizon or T-Mobile (in some cases both).

So is there any possibility that we could see these kind of speeds across the U.S., and can the country catch up with its global peers?

Our Lead Analyst Kevin Fitchard discussed the development of 4G in the U.S. in a guest article for Light Reading. Continue reading

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Tracking AT&T’s rise to dominance in 4G network responsiveness

We recently published our latest report on the State of Mobile Networks in the U.S., where the network speed and 4G availability awards were dominated by a couple of operators. But AT&T won one notable accolade in OpenSignal’s metrics – the best 4G latency.

Our latency metric tends not to get as much attention as speed or availability, but it is becoming an important measure of the overall mobile network experience. Everytime you click a link, press play on a video, or feint left in multiplayer mobile game, your device 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 a response to be returned is the latency of the network. The lower the latency score, the better. And response rates are coming to the fore as mobile user habits shift.

Online gaming is one of the big beneficiaries from low latency. Multiplayer gaming apps such as Fortnite and PUBG are hugely popular right now, and rely on fast response times for a smooth and consistent player experience.

Mobile web browsing also benefits, particularly when streaming music or video. Lower latency cuts the delay between the browser on the phone requesting the file, and the server responding and starting the stream. The faster the latency, the sooner the server responds. A quicker “time to start playing” in video streaming is especially important as users watch a lot of short videos in quick succession, e.g. on YouTube or Facebook. Better network response times are also indicative of improved performance in other growing mobile application areas such as VoLTE and video communications services. And as U.S. mobile consumers begin to move away from Wifi and rely more on cellular networks, lower latency is more vital than ever.

But AT&T hasn’t always been the top dog in our U.S. 4G latency metric. In fact, the operator was in fourth place just 16 months ago: in April 2017 it had the slowest 4G latency of any of the national operators, at 64 milliseconds in our measurements. However by August Ma Bell had overtaken its rivals, and has been in the lead ever since, as our latest historical analysis of U.S. 4G latency data shows.

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Seoul top city in East Asia with 4G availability of nearly 98%

At OpenSignal we are currently in the process of boosting our coverage of East Asia, having launched reports in the last six months on Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. We recently published the first in a series of blog posts comparing key cities in East Asia, which looked at 4G speeds, and found Seoul and Singapore were the fastest. In the second of our blogs on East Asia cities, we have measured the 4G availability of our users in 12 of the big economic centers in the region.

Each of the 12 cities we analyzed represents a key business and economic hub in their respective countries. We examined data from a 90-day test period between March and May, and found the following results for 4G availability.

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Cambodia’s 4G market experiences growing pains

There’s good news and bad news if you happen to be a 4G smartphone user in Cambodia. The good news is that access to 4G services is rising. In our new State of Mobile Networks: Cambodia report we found that 4G availability was increasing among most operators in our measurements, meaning consumers could find LTE signals more often. The bad news is that 4G download speeds declined. As Cellcard, Metfone and Smart Axiata compete more heavily and sign up more 4G users, the additional demand for mobile data appears to be impacting their LTE network capacity.

This is a common trend in countries where 4G is still relatively new. As 4G services ramp up, operators focus on extending the reach of their networks, not on the raw power of their connections. Typically after a period of declining speeds, operators reinvest in network capacity, often boosting speeds well beyond the levels at which they launched their initial 4G services. Luckily for consumers, Cambodia’s growing availability means they’re seeing little day-to-day impact in the overall speeds they experience. For all three operators overall speeds held steady since our February Cambodia report.

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How do Singapore’s regions stack up in 4G?

When OpenSignal publishes a new national report, we often follow up with a metro-level analysis of the country in question, seeing how the big cities within compare in our metrics. We recently published our first State of Mobile Networks: Singapore report, which means it’s the island nation’s turn for a regional breakdown. But how do we compare cities in a country comprised of one large city? OpenSignal decided to try something new: we divided the Singapore map into five sectors corresponding roughly to its five urban-planning regions and examined how each fared overall in our 4G download speed and 4G availability metrics.

OpenSignal-Singapore-4G-Availability-4G-Speed 577x415

For this analysis we looked at the same 90-day test period as our Singapore report to identify the fastest sector and the sector with the highest level of LTE access. You would think the Central region would emerge at the top of our charts, given it contains the Downtown Core and the key commercial areas of the country. Well, you would be half right. Central had the highest 4G availability in our measurements, but in 4G download speed, two other sectors beat it. The mostly residential Northeast had the fastest score, followed by the industrial East. Both had 4G download averages just shy of 50 Mbps.

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