OpenSignal news

Telcel, AT&T still locked in a 4G battle in Mexico

In March, Telcel was the king of 4G speed in Mexico, but AT&T had the greater LTE signal reach, according to OpenSignal’s State of Mobile Networks report published that month. But six months later the tables have turned. In our latest Mexico report, released today, AT&T and Telcel were deadlocked for our 4G speed award, but Telcel had leapfrogged over AT&T in our 4G availability metric. As Mexico’s 4G revolution intensifies, both operators are clearly battling for the upper hand.

A few years ago, Movistar would have been considered the second thoroughbred in the two-horse race for mobile broadband dominance, but upstart operator AT&T has now clearly assumed that mantle. Movistar came in last in all of OpenSignal’s core metrics save network responsiveness. It’s going to be an interesting race to watch in the coming years as Mexico continues to gear up 4G services. For OpenSignal’s full analysis of Mexico, including a breakdown of its three largest cities, check out the State of Mobile Networks report.

What are your own experiences with mobile data connectivity in Mexico? We encourage you to use OpenSignal’s apps to run tests of your own and share results in the comments section below.

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India’s 4G speed race tightens

You certainly can’t accuse the Indian mobile industry of standing still. In the six months since our last India report, OpenSignal has tracked a lot of changes in our core mobile metrics as the country’s four major 4G operators continue to compete for India’s increasingly demanding mobile data consumers.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Arian Zwegers

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Arian Zwegers

The biggest changes we tracked were in 4G speeds. On the one hand, we found Reliance Jio’s average download speeds jump upwards substantially, coinciding perfectly with the end of its free-data promotions in April. Meanwhile, LTE speeds for Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone all fell in our measurements — likely the result of increased mobile data usage on their networks. The rankings of the four operators in 4G speed haven’t changed since in our first India report, but the once huge gap between the fastest and slowest LTE speeds in India has shrunk considerably.

As a result we have a new winner in overall speed. Jio’s steadily increasing speeds, combined with its impressive LTE reach, led to the 4G-only operator claiming our overall speed award. Jio may not have the fastest 4G connections in our tests, but it was able to deliver a consistently faster overall mobile data experience.

For OpenSignal’s full analysis, check out our newest State of Mobile Networks: India report. And if you’re a smartphone user in India, tell us about your own mobile data experiences in the comments below.

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Measuring peak speed for UK operators

Today OpenSignal published its first Mobile Networks Update for the U.K., which shows that LTE accessibility is steadily improving across Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Apart from the update on our core mobile data metrics, OpenSignal decided to provide a little bit of extra analysis for this report. Specifically, we’re applying our new peak speed metric to the U.K. to examine the optimal experience on 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone’s 4G networks.

Before we dive in, I should explain what I mean by peak speed. While OpenSignal’s 4G speed metric measures our user’s typical everyday experience, peak speed measures 4G connections at their best — when devices are able to access the full capacity of the network unfettered by congestion or other technical limitations. We calculate average peak speed by examining only the fastest tests we collect from our user community to ensure we’re identifying only the most optimized network connections. While peak speed is still an experimental metric, OpenSignal is always looking for new ways to examine our data, and this metric provides us with a different way of measuring the consumer mobile data experience.

Now let’s look at the peak speed results for the U.K.:

Continue reading

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When it comes to the mobile data experience, hail to the Netherlands!

The land of windmills, tulip fields, armies of cyclists…and amazing access to mobile signals. We’ve arrived in the Netherlands! It’s easy to fall in love with the small but mighty country, even more so if you’re a dedicated mobile data user. After analysing over 152 million data points collected from over 19,000 devices in the second quarter of 2017 we can safely state that the Dutch mobile network market is one of the most robust and progressive ones covered till date.

For the first national report covering the state of mobile networks, we’ve analysed customer experience across four major operators: KPN, Tele2, T-Mobile and Vodafone, and though we’re thoroughly impressed with all, there is a clear winner hoarding in most of the awards.

Photo by Jace Grandinetti on Unsplash

Even though KPN was among the first operators to implement 4G, it seems to have lost steam since. It was the only operator that didn’t manage to stock any of OpenSignal’s awards. Putting it into perspective, though, we should note that the availability and speed we measured for KPN were still very impressive on a global scale. Continue reading

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Now that the data deluge is over, Jio’s speeds are increasing

In a few weeks OpenSignal will release its second State of Mobile Networks report for India, but in the interim we thought we share some of the interesting trend data we’re seeing from India’s most headline-grabbing operator, Reliance Jio. As we pointed out in our last India report, Jio’s rush to add subscribers has come with challenges. Since launching a year ago, the 4G-only operator has garnered more than 100 million subscribers, all enticed by its offers of free, nearly unlimited data. But opening up the mobile internet spigot took a toll on Jio’s network. While the operator topped the 4G network availability chart in our India analysis, Jio ranked last in 4G speed as its millions of data-hungry customers competed for capacity on its LTE network. Since then a lot has changed, though. In April, most of Jio’s freebie plans ended, and customers found themselves paying for their data services. The result: Jio’s speeds have increased — not just increased, they’ve skyrocketed.

In the chart above, we tracked average 4G download speeds measured by OpenSignal users on Jio’s network over the five three-month test periods since our last report came out. After an uptick in February, Jio’s speeds leveled out at around 4.2 Mbps between the test periods ending in March and April. But as soon as Jio’s free data offers concluded on April 1, we started recording a steady rise in average 4G speed all the way till the end of July. In the last six months, Jio’s typical 4G download has ballooned from 3.9 Mbps to 5.8 Mbps — that’s almost a 50% increase in speed, which is frankly astonishing. Continue reading

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How speed test app Meteor can boost your mobile gaming experience

This has probably happened to you before. You are playing a first-person shooter (FPS) but you find yourself losing terribly because you are a few milliseconds behind everyone else. You might be a great FPS player, but there’s no way you can overcome that monstrous lag time. Your opponents will shoot you before you even see them on your screen. 

Image by Ravanae. Find the full Gif image here 

Gif image by Ravanae. Click to see full animation

According to App Annie’s report published in VentureBeat, playing online game apps will increase 270% by 2020. However, these games are becoming increasingly sophisticated, no longer depending merely on the device’s processor. They require fast network connections and quick response times. The more power developers bring to these games, the higher the internet requirements that users need from their operators.

Latency, also known as ping, is a big source of problems for gamers, but slow upload and download speeds can also harm your gaming experience. As a gamer, you need to understand how they can affect gameplay, especially if you are playing competitively. One of the cool features of OpenSignal’s latest testing app, Meteor, is that it allows you to test your apps before you use them. This way you always know what you can and can’t play with your current internet connection. Continue reading

Posted in app, Understanding signal | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Measuring the Consumer Mobile Experience: Let’s Get the Facts Straight

When we founded OpenSignal 7 years ago, we had a very specific goal in mind. We sought an alternative to the old way of measuring mobile network performance. Instead of packing a car full of test gear and then driving around searching for signals, we decided to focus on the consumer. We felt what mattered most to consumers were the actual speeds and availability they experienced on their phones, not some abstract representation of network performance based on test equipment. Using cutting-edge crowdsourcing techniques and rigorous scientific analysis, we developed and improved a testing methodology that we are extremely proud of. What’s more, operators, equipment makers and regulators around the world have validated that methodology by relying on OpenSignal data to make key business and policy decisions.

As OpenSignal has grown in influence some have taken to making false claims about our methodology. Sometimes this is motivated by a desire to maintain the status-quo of legacy drive-testing methods or sometimes it’s because people don’t like the facts that OpenSignal’s independent data reveals. Well, OpenSignal represents the cutting-edge of mobile industry analysis, and whilst we would much rather have a conversation about the fascinating trends our data reveals — from the impact of unlimited plans in the U.S. to the shakeup in the Indian mobile market — people need to know the truth. It’s time to set the record straight.

Here are the facts:  

Myth: Crowdsourced network testing is biased towards urban areas, and doesn’t sufficiently represent network performance in rural areas

Fact: OpenSignal’s apps have been downloaded more than 20 million times to consumer devices in over 200 countries. Those devices collect 2 billion individual measurements each day. This crowdsourced data is representative of all the places that people go and use their devices – at work, at home, indoors and out. It includes both urban and rural areas, and all the locations in between. With such a huge volume of data collected from real users on real devices, we get clear insight into how consumers experience operators’ mobile services across a broad range of geographic areas, times and situations. In contrast, drive testing is limited to testing on roads and uses a single set of test devices which paints a hypothetical picture of a network’s performance. Continue reading

Posted in Crowdsourcing, Market Analysis, Networks, Philosophy | Tagged | 1 Comment

OpenSignal lands in South Africa

This week OpenSignal published its first report for an African country – the first of what we hope will be many. South Africa now joins the many countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia that we now cover on a regular basis.

Our State of the Mobile Network: South Africa report reveals a mobile market with a clear split between market leaders MTN and Vodacom and smaller operators Cell C and Telkom. Vodacom either won outright or shared OpenSignal’s awards in all six metrics we cover. Meanwhile, MTN shared three 1st place wins with Vodacom and wasn’t far behind Vodacom in the other categories.

Be sure and check out our full results for South Africa on our report page, and let us know what African country you think we should be focusing on next in the comments section below.

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Peru’s Bitel makes its debut in our data

OpenSignal has returned to Peru. When we first looked at the Andean country in June of 2016, we examined 4G speed, availability and latency for Peru’s top 3 operators, but we’re pleased to say we’ve expanded our coverage in the State of Mobile Networks: Peru report published today. Not only are we looking at the 3G and overall speeds in this edition, we’ve also included a fourth operator. Bitel launched its first 4G service in late 2016, and it’s already making quite the impact in the market. Entel, however, is still clearly the operator beat, having won a share of all six of our categories. Be sure to check out the full analysis and charts on the report page.

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Analyzing the impact of unlimited data in the US

Last week OpenSignal unveiled a new experimental metric called average peak speed, which is designed to gauge a network’s full data connection capabilities under optimal conditions. We kicked off our analysis of peak speed with a look at India’s four nationwide LTE operators, but in conjunction with OpenSignal’s State of Mobile Networks: USA report, released today, we’re applying our peak speed metric to the U.S. big four. We think that peak speed can provide some additional insight into what’s happening at the moment in the U.S. with the resurgence of unlimited data plans.

Before jumping into the analysis, I should explain how we define peak speeds and how we calculate the metric. While our 4G speed metric measures our user’s typical everyday experience, peak speed measures an operator’s 4G connections at their best — when devices are able to access the full capacity of the network unfettered by congestion or other technical limitations. You can think of average speed as the everyday experience of driving a car in traffic, while peak speeds are what your car can achieve when the highway is empty and you’re free to lay on the gas pedal.

We calculate average peak speed by examining data only from devices that have conducted multiple automated speed tests in a three-month test period. We extract the fastest speed test from those devices and then toss out the bottom 95% of the results, leaving us with only the top 5% of the fastest speeds we’ve collected from our crowdsourced community. The average of that top 5% is our average peak speed metric. This metric isn’t measuring the theoretical peak speed of a network as those speeds are quite simply unattainable. Nor are we claiming this measurement is the topmost speed a device would ever experience on a particular operator’s network. But we feel average peak speed is an accurate measure of what consumers might really experience when the network — to continue the car analogy — is firing on all cylinders.

We ran average peak speed for the April-June timeframe, which is the same test period we used for our U.S. report. You can see the results below:

The first thing that sticks out in this chart is that Verizon and T-Mobile are locked into a tie for peak speed at 104 Mbps. What that tells us is that Verizon and T-Mobile’s are evenly matched when it comes to capacity and both are able to support extremely fast connections when conditions are optimal. That isn’t a surprise. For the last two years we’ve seen Verizon and T-Mobile engaged in a heated battle for fastest 4G speed in our measurements. But in the current U.S. report we saw a marked change. Our 4G speed results for Verizon dropped by 2 Mbps, allowing T-Mobile to leap ahead of Big Red in our rankings. What happened? Unlimited plans happened. Continue reading

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