OpenSignal Blog

4G around the world: State of LTE report returns

In OpenSignal’s latest State of LTE report, we once again look at the speed and accessibility of the world’s LTE networks, this time examining 78 different countries. While we find the usual suspects in the top rankings — for instance Singapore, South Korea and the Netherlands – there are some new faces as well, showing that LTE networks are evolving at different paces across the globe.

State of LTE 11-2016 Map

We’re starting to see LTE download speeds in Singapore, South Korea and Hungary push well over 40 Mbps, and several more countries now have average connections in excess of 30 Mbps. While the average for most countries falls in the 20 Mbps to 25 Mbps range, the global average LTE connection is 17.4 Mbps, reflecting the fact that the most populated nations often have rather sluggish LTE services. For instance, average 4G speeds in India were 6.4 Mbps, and the average for the U.S. was 14 Mbps.

As for 4G availability, which is the proportion of time users have access to an LTE signal, we see 3G receding as the driver of mobile data connections in much of the world, but it still fills in the key connectivity gaps between 4G signals. Two countries, South Korea and Japan, had availability numbers over 90%, but a good third of the countries we examined were able to deliver an LTE signal more than 70% of the time, reflecting well developed LTE infrastructures. An equally large group of countries fell below the 60% mark though. These low-4G-availability countries weren’t just developing nations; several of the biggest countries in western Europe fell into this group.

To see OpenSignal’s full analysis and interactive charts, check out the new report.

Posted in LTE, Networks, News Center, Other, Reports | 6 Comments

A merged Wind and 3 will play 4G catchup in Italy

Italy’s competitive landscape is going to look a lot different next year when No. 3 and No. 4 operators Wind and 3 combine into a single provider bigger than both TIM and Vodafone. But according to our new State of Mobile Networks report for Italy, a merged Wind and 3 will need to make the most of their joint spectrum and network assets if they plan to close the 4G performance gap with their rivals.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Moyan Brenn

Image courtesy of Flickr user Moyan Brenn

OpenSignal’s analysis found there was a clear split between the current larger and smaller operators in Italy when it comes to providing a consistent LTE connection. Both Vodafone and TIM were able to supply our testers with a 4G connection more than 65% of the time, but our users could find a similar connection on neither Wind nor 3’s LTE networks more than 40% of the time. Both Wind and 3 both offered good 4G speeds, the problem was those 4G speeds weren’t available to users all that often.

It was Vodafone that emerged as the most dominant force in our performance tables. It won five of our six awards outright and tied with TIM for the sixth. It not only had the fastest HSPA and LTE connections in our tests but also the most widely accessible 4G signals. When we broke down our data in Italy’s four largest cities, we found Vodafone once again won big in our speed tests, but it faced a stiffer challenge from TIM in 4G availability.

In Milan, Naples and Rome TIM and Vodafone were statistically tied in 4G availability in our tests, but TIM won our availability award in Turin outright, as it was able to supply our users with an LTE link an impressive 85.6% of the time. In fact, we measured  impressive 4G performance in Turin overall. The fastest speeds we measured in Italy were on Vodafone’s LTE network in Turin, averaging 50.7 Mbps.

For our full analysis including a look at our interactive charts, check out the full Italy report.

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AT&T battles it out with Telcel in Mexico

It’s been less than two years since AT&T crossed the U.S. border, buying up Mexico’s two smallest mobile providers, but in that short time it’s managed to build up quite the impressive mobile data operation. In our second State of Mobile Networks report for Mexico, AT&T won our awards for fastest overall and 3G speeds, and ran neck-and-neck with mega-operator Telcel for best 4G availability.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Blok 70

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Blok 70

Telcel, however, is no operator to be trifled with. It won our 4G speed award with an average download connection of 23.3 Mbps. Telcel also had the more responsive LTE network in our tests, winning OpenSignal’s 4G latency award. But despite its big 4G numbers, Telcel didn’t deliver the fastest overall mobile data experience in our analysis. AT&T’s combination of fast 3G, fast 4G and generally high LTE availability resulted in our users measuring an aggregate download speed of 10.9 Mbps, compared to 8.5 Mbps for Telcel and 4.6 Mbps for Movistar.

Availability, which measures the percentage of time a user is connected to a particular network, was a much closer contest. We found an LTE signal on both AT&T and Telcel around 65% of the time, resulting in a statistical tie. Movistar clearly has some catching up to do in this category. Our testers were only able to latch onto a Movistar LTE signal 51.4% of the time.

For our full analysis of 3G and 4G performance in Mexico, check out the report.

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A region-by-region look at the UK’s 3G and 4G performance

Today OpenSignal released its State of Mobile Networks for the U.K. in partnership with consumer advocacy group Which?. Our report drew on 500 million measurements tracking the 3G and 4G performance of the U.K.’s four major operators, but as an added bonus we decided to see how the different regions of the country compared, and the results were surprising indeed.


We looked at the 4G and overall speeds and availability in the nine official regions of England as well as in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. You would expect London to be at the top of the heap when it comes to mobile data performance given the investment operators have made in the capital, but it turns out that wasn’t the case. 3G and 4G signals were more readily available in London than in the rest of the kingdom, according to our measurements, but when it came to speed London didn’t fare as well as half the country. In terms of 4G speed, in fact, London came in dead last in our tests.

Data Source: OpenSignal

Data Source: OpenSignal

OpenSignal smartphone users experienced average download speeds of 18.8 Mbps in greater London, while in the other 11 regions average speeds were 20 Mbps or greater. The best performing region was the one most distant from the capital, Northern Ireland, where we measured average download speeds of 23.3 Mbps. Why the shortfall in the capital? London networks may be powerful, but they also carry some of the biggest loads of LTE users in the country. What we’re most likely seeing in London are networks experiencing higher levels of congestion, which in turn drags down average speeds.

When we factored in 3G connections, London performed much better. The capital’s overall mobile data speed average was 12.9 Mbps in our tests, which put it in the middle of the table. London’s 4G connections may have been the slowest in the country, but it provided a 4G signal much more often, which boosts the typical speeds our users measured. Northern Ireland, however, performed best in overall speed as well, closely followed by Yorkshire and the Humber. Our users in both regions saw average overall speeds greater than 15 Mbps.

Data Source: OpenSignal

How often you can see an LTE signal has obviously a big impact on the overall mobile data experience. After all, a 4G network is only so useful if you can only rarely connect to it. Our availability metric, which measures the proportion of time our users were able to latch onto a signal, varied quite dramatically from region from region. London performed best in this category as OpenSignal users were able to access an LTE connection 69.7% of the time. The North East and Yorkshire and the Humber also scored above 60% in this category. In four regions, however, 4G signals were accessible less than 50% of the time: the East Midlands, East of England, South West and Wales. In Wales 4G availability was particularly poor. We were only able to see the LTE network there 35.4% of the time.

Luckily the U.K. still has 3G to fall back on. In most regions, our testers were able to get a 3G or better connection more than 80% of the time, though London was the only region where that number increased beyond 90%. The regions with the lowest access to mobile data were Scotland, Wales and the South West, all of which had availability scores below 80%.

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OpenSignal takes a first look at Chile

OpenSignal turned its analytical eye on several of the countries of Latin America this year, examining the mobile performance of operators in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Peru, but we’re not done yet. Today OpenSignal released its first State of Mobile Networks report on Chile.

Image courtesy of Flickr user [-_-] JORGE

Image courtesy of Flickr user [-_-] JORGE

South America’s backbone has four operators and we found that each of the them stood out in at least one of our award categories. A different operator each won one of our three speed awards. We measured the fastest 4G speeds on Claro and the fastest 3G speeds on Entel, but OpenSignal’s overall speed prize went to Movistar, which may not have had the fastest raw speeds in our tests, but delivered the most consistently fast mobile data connections to our users.

One of the reasons Movistar scored so highly in overall speeds was the accessibility of its 4G signals. It shared our award for best LTE availability with WOM as our testers were able to latch onto a 4G signal on both operators’ networks more than 60% of the time. Where Chile’s operators really shine though is in 3G/4G availability. All four operators were able to deliver a 3G or better signal more than 87% of the time in our tests, making Chile the most accessible country in South America in terms of mobile data.

To see the full results and analysis, be sure to check out the report on our website.

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Parsing Poland’s mobile networks

Today OpenSignal turned its network-testing spotlight on our first Eastern European country: Poland. In our newest State of Mobile Networks report we compared the 3G and 4G performance of Polish operators Orange Polska, T-Mobile, Polkomtel Plus and P4 Play, and we found a hotly contested mobile market. Two operators battled for the title of fastest 4G network, while two different operators waged their own war 4G availability.

Orange and T-Mobile were the two operators contesting the speed crown, each delivering average LTE download speeds of 26 Mbps in our measurement. Play came in last in our speed tests, but it probably won’t stay in that spot for long. Play just announced a big 4G upgrade it calls LTE Ultra, which uses new LTE-Advanced technologies to combine multiple spectrum channels into a single high-powered connection. But the network went live just after our test window closed in July.

When it came to our availability tests we saw a different set of operators vying for top marks. Play and Plus tied for best 4G availability, as we were able to latch onto their respective LTE networks in 63% of our tests. Play, however, won OpenSignal’s award for best 3G/4G availability due to the strength of its HSPA footprint.

You can find the full report, which includes all of the 3G and 4G metrics we tracked, on OpenSignal’s website.

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How South America’s mobile data networks stack up

OpenSignal this week released its first-ever Global State of Mobile Networks report, which looks at the combined performance of 3G and 4G networks in 95 different countries. Along with the report, we’re also publishing a short series of blog posts exploring specific regions. We started with Europe on Wednesday, and today we tackle South America.

The chart below shows us how 11 South American countries compared when we plotted combined 3G and 4G availability and 3G/4G speed on different axes.

3G/4G speed vs. 3G/4G availability

3G/4G speed vs. 3G/4G availability

In general, South America’s data networks are behind much of the developed world in speed, with all nations save Uruguay providing an average mobile data speed less than 10 Mbps. But most of South America did admirably in terms of 3G/4G signal availability. These metrics combined would indicate that while LTE is still in development, the region’s 3G networks are fairly mature. All but three of the 11 countries in our sample were able to deliver a 3G or better signal to their mobile users 80% of the time. Two countries, Chile and Peru, had 3G/4G availability metrics higher than 90%.

Having a large population or economic influence had little bearing on countries’ performance in the region. The country that performed best, Uruguay, had the 2nd smallest population in our sample, followed by Peru and Chile. South American powerhouse Brazil performed poorly compared to its peers providing a 3G or better signal available only 75% of the time and overall speeds just a little bit better than the regional average.

To see the specific numbers for each country in South America, check out the full report.

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Comparing the mobile data networks of Europe in OpenSignal’s newest report

Today, OpenSignal released its new Global State of Mobile Networks report, our first worldwide report that looks beyond 4G technology to examine the overall mobile data prowess of nearly 100 different countries. While you can see the overall conclusions and analysis in the report itself, we’re also drilling down to specific regions in a short series of blog posts. Today we’re starting with Europe.

The chart below shows how 33 European countries stack up in mobile data performance, plotting combined 3G and 4G availability on the vertical axis and average 3G/4G speed on the horizontal axis.

3G/4G speed vs. 3G/4G availability

3G/4G speed vs. 3G/4G availability

Europe does quite well in general in both speed availability, reflecting not only their investments in LTE but the mature state of their LTE infrastructures. Most of them are clustered in the upper central portion of the chart with speeds between 10 and 20 Mbps and high levels of mobile data signal availability. The vast majority of European users can latch onto a 3G or better signal more 80% of the time, according to our data.

Outside of that main cluster, we do see clumps of countries in similar stages of development. We find several Eastern European countries that haven’t quite caught up with the rest of the region in either speed or availability (sometimes both), though Germany falls in the underperforming category as well. Being a former member of the eastern bloc isn’t always indicative of poorer mobile data performance, though. Both Lithuania and Hungary are well to the right of Europe’s main cluster, joining the Nordic states and the Netherlands in an exclusive club of outperformers. These are the rare countries that are able to offer a consistent mobile data connection greater than 20 Mbps.

Be sure to check out the blog tomorrow, when we take a closer look at South America, but if you can’t wait that long, all of our South American metrics (along with measurements from 84 other countries) are in the global report.

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OpenSignal coverage maps get an upgrade thanks to millions of new tests

When OpenSignal announced new changes to its data collection methodology earlier this month, one of the updates we were most excited about was the potential for much more detailed coverage maps on our website and smartphone apps. We’re pleased to say that we’ve released our first batch of maps containing our new data, and the differences are quite remarkable.

You can see for yourself in these two screenshots of our coverage maps. The first shows coverage in the area just west of San Francisco International Airport using signal data solely from our previous methodology. The second map shows the same area updated with new data from methodology upgrade.





You can plainly see that we have many more data points in the second map, and we’re able to much more clearly delineate areas of good coverage from areas of spotty coverage. That granularity should only improve in the coming months. One of the big advantages of our new update is that we’re conducting many more automated signal tests than we did before. Our coverage maps aggregate test data from the proceeding nine months, while our new methodology was only implemented in May. That means our maps will start filling up with even more signal strength measurements in the next five months.

Even with this new influx of data, we could always use more. The more data points we have the closer we get to eliminating all remaining measurement gaps in our maps. If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to join our community of crowdsourced testers by downloading the OpenSignal Android or iOS app.

Posted in Crowdsourcing, Map Update, OpenSignalMaps Website | 2 Comments

T-Mobile butts head with Verizon in OpenSignal’s latest U.S. results

The John Legere juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down. Ever since the outspoken CEO took over T-Mobile in 2012, he’s been promising the Un-carrier would become a major force in the U.S. mobile scene. In our latest test results, we’re seeing the culmination of those efforts. T-Mobile won four of six performance categories we measured in our new State of Mobile Networks for the U.S.

OpenSignal testers measured the fastest speeds among the four nationwide operators on T-Mobile’s LTE network, though it did wage a close-fought battle with Verizon for the title. In our February report, Verizon and T-Mobile were tied for first place in speed, but with average LTE download speeds of 16.3 Mbps, T-Mobile managed to beat out its larger competitor in our latest results.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mike Mozart

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mike Mozart

Verizon was still the clear winner in our 4G availability metric, which measures the proportion of time customers have access to a particular network. Our testers on Verizon’s LTE network could latch onto a 4G signal 86% of the time. T-Mobile is gaining ground though. It surpassed AT&T in LTE availability, supplying its customers with a 4G connection 83% of the time in our measurements. We found an LTE signal on AT&T’s network 80% of the time, but Sprint landed a distant fourth in this category with an availability metric of 70%.

For this report, we dove into our regional data to see how the operators’ 4G services fared in 31 different metro markets. We found T-Mobile’s and Verizon’s battle over speed replicated on the city level with one of the two operators either winning or drawing for our fastest LTE award in 30 instances. AT&T took our prize for fastest LTE connections in the remaining market, Austin, and tied for the top spot in six more cities.  Verizon, however, dominated our regional results in LTE availability. We tracked an LTE signal most consistently for Verizon in 17 of the 31 cities, and in the remaining 14 metro areas Verizon tied with another operator for first place.

While Sprint lagged its three larger competitors in our speed and availability metrics, it won our award for 4G latency. Low latency connections mean web pages start loading more quickly and consumers experience less lag time when using real-time communications apps. We measured Sprint’s 4G response time at 57 milliseconds.

It’s clear from our results that T-Mobile has momentum, but it will be interesting to see if the Un-carrier can keep up the pressure. Verizon and AT&T certainly aren’t dallying. Both are refarming spectrum from their 2G and 3G networks to add more capacity to their LTE networks. Even Sprint is in the midst of a network upgrade that promises to boost its LTE speeds tremendously. Meanwhile, regulators have kicked off a spectrum auction that could determine the direction of operators’ 4G networks for the next half decade.

You can see the full results or the U.S. report here.

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