When we talk about smartphone connectivity, we tend to focus on the big name cellular technologies like LTE and future 5G technologies. We often tend to forget that one of the most important mobile technologies out there isn’t actually a mobile technology at all: Wifi. Despite all the progress the worldwide mobile industry has made in boosting mobile broadband speeds and reach, we still rely heavily on Wifi for a good deal of our data consumption. In some countries, consumers smartphones spend as much as 65% connected to a Wifi signal.
The U.S. is a bit more modest in its Wifi use, but the typical U.S. smartphone user is still connected to some Wifi network or another a little less than 50% of the time. It’s easy to see how. Our phones automatically log on to our home and work networks. When we go to the coffee shop, airport or mall, we often check to see if a free Wifi connection is available. There is also a growing number of operators like Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Google’s Project Fi that have adopted “Wifi-first” models, connecting their customers automatically to large networks of hotspots.
A relative latecomer in adopting LTE technology, Argentina has made steady progress in increasing access to 4G services in the past years. But when it came to average 4G download speeds, the country is still below the global average and among the slowest in Latin America. We recently highlighted this trend in our analysis on the state of LTE in Latin America, where we found Argentina increase its LTE reach by 8 percentage points within a year, however overall average download speeds barely stood above 10 Mbps.
Today, in our State of Mobile Network report, we’re zooming in on Argentina’s operator-level performance, seeing how the three national mobile operators — América Móvil’s Claro, Telefónica’s Movistar and Telecom Argentina’s Personal — stack up in 3G and 4G download speeds, latency and LTE availability across the country.
Photo by Julián Gentilezza on Unsplash
2017 was the year 4G exploded in India. One of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world, India’s current mobile data subscriber penetration stands at 40%, expected to double to 80% by 2022 according to Crisil’s predictions. But while lower generation wireless technologies are still occupying a fair share of the mobile data space, LTE services have taken the leading role in the unprecedented increase of data users in the past year, in large part thanks to a single operator, which I’ll address more in a moment.
The emergence of 4G brought with it free voice calls and low-cost data plans leading to a big boost in data usage. As more consumers received access to 4G connections, a new wealth of applications requiring fast speeds opened up to them, further driving up data consumption.
During the quarter ending June 2017, total data usage stood at over 4.2 million terabytes, out of which 4G data accounted for 3.9 million TBs, according to TRAI. The growth is most visible when checking the numbers from a year ago, when 4G data usage stood at a mere 8,050 TBs; that’s a 500-fold increase.
Mobile users in Indonesia have a good chance of finding an LTE signal regardless of operator choice, but 4G download speeds remain among lowest worldwide.
In our first report measuring mobile experience in the country, we analysed over 9 billion measurements from close to 1 million devices comparing the performance of the five national operators in terms of 4G availability, 3G and 4G download speeds, and latency.
Photo by Muhammad Raufan Yusup on Unsplash
In OpenSignal’s September Mobile Networks Update for the UK, EE was the runaway winner of our nationwide 4G speed award in the UK. When we drill down the regional level, EE makes a similarly strong showing, but it faces some stiff competition from 3 in a few places. Following up on our UK report, we decided to take a closer look at 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone to see how their 4G performance stacked up in England’s nine official regional divisions as well as in Scotland and Wales.
As you can see from the awards map above covering the June-August test period, EE either won outright or tied for first place in all 11 areas, but in three regions where we recorded a statistical draw, The U.K.’s smallest operator 3 was the challenger. You can see the breakdown of each operator’s speeds in the bar chart below:
EE’s ‘Time on 4G’ announcement was a blast from the past and an epiphany all at once. OpenSignal has been measuring the ‘Time on 4G’ of mobile users for years and has long been calling on operators and the industry to do the same. Friday’s announcement that EE has heeded our call is a major step forward and a huge endorsement for OpenSignal’s approach. It’s one small step for EE, and one massive step for measuring what matters most — what consumers actually experience on mobile networks.
‘Time on 4G’ was one of the first metrics OpenSignal introduced. While we have since changed the name to ‘4G Availability’ the principle is the same. We measure the proportion of time users spent connected to 4G networks. This is a user-centric approach that assesses how coverage is reflected in users’ everyday experience. OpenSignal has long said that the legacy ways of talking about coverage need to be updated.
Population Coverage’ only measures whether there is coverage at your home location and ‘Geographical Coverage’ treats all areas of land equally and doesn’t reflect the importance of providing coverage in a highly populated area versus a remote location where no one actually visits. In this modern connected world, coverage is too important to get wrong, and OpenSignal continues to call on the industry to move towards measuring coverage with a user-centric approach. Indeed, the time has come for the industry to abandon drive test simulations as a proxy for measuring real user experience.
Furthermore, industry watchers absorbed by the promise of 5G may have missed the parallel trend gaining traction in the industry, which EE’s announcement perfectly illustrates. In our latest State of LTE Global Report, LTE availability saw major gains around the world and at every tier of 4G development, indicating a massive operator focus on boosting accessibility to 4G signals globally — a focus we expect will continue in 2018.
Which of OpenSignal’s other bold steps will the industry follow next? Perhaps they will publish typical speed instead of best-case speed, a move embraced by the recent Ofcom and the CAP rulings? Perhaps they will abandon operator-centric performance measurements in favor of publishing more easily understandable, and relevant, experience metrics? While the industry considers its options, watch for new innovations in measuring real-world consumer mobile experience from OpenSignal in 2018.
Meantime, to our friends at EE: As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery.
Posted in Crowdsourcing, LTE, Market Analysis, Networks, News Center, Press
Tagged 4G, 5G, availability, coverage, Industry Announcement, Metrics, OfCom
Costa Rica definitely has some catching up to do in the global 4G race. In our latest State of LTE report, we found Costa Rica to be the second slowest in terms of average 4G download speeds among the 77 countries we examined. But the Central American nation is making steady progress in improving LTE signals and speeds, as we see in our most recent national report published today
Partnering with Sutel, we analysed over 117 million measurements drawn from over 9,500 devices to compare the 3G and 4G experiences offered by the three key mobile operators in the country: Movistar, Kölbi and Claro.
Photo by Max Boettinger on Unsplash
Thailand is a relative newcomer on the LTE market, with the first networks launched four years ago and heavier investments to deploy 4G taking place a few years later. But younger most definitely doesn’t mean weaker: mobile users in Thailand have better access to 4G than those in the United Kingdom, France or New Zealand.
But having great availability doesn’t guarantee a stellar 4G experience; when we analysed the average 4G download speeds our users were experiencing, it painted a very different picture.
Photo Courtesy: Lischeng Chang / Unsplash
In our very first State of Mobile Networks: Thailand report, published today, we analysed the 3 main national operators: AIS, DTAC and TrueMove to see who provided the best availability, speed and latency to mobile users. Our first report and analysis is based on over 400 million measurements, collected from almost 28,000 devices over the course of three months (July through September 2017).
In the business of mobile measurement, the term “coverage” can be a nebulous concept. Depending on who’s tossing the word around, it can mean many things. It can mean coverage in the purely geographic sense, representing the total percentage of a landmass where a network signal is present. Or it can mean population coverage, which is an abstracted metric representing the percentage of residential doorsteps where you can get a connection.
At OpenSignal, we’ve always felt the most important thing is the coverage that consumers see on an everyday basis. So when we started measuring network experience many years ago, instead of using the usual coverage definitions, we created a new one based on a very simple calculation: how often consumers are connected to a network, regardless of where they happen to be. And to avoid any confusion with the other types of coverage, we gave that metric a very distinct name: Availability. If an operator has a 4G availability score of 80%, that means that across its subscriber base, users were able to find a 4G signal in eight out of every ten attempts. It’s as simple as that.
Today, however, we’re introducing a new experimental metric that looks at coverage from a different angle. This new metric is called place coverage, and it looks at the geographic reach of a network, taking into account where consumers are able to latch onto a network signal, not just when. Our availability metric is by no means going away, but place coverage eventually will provide another tool for understanding the nuances of coverage — and how actual consumers experience it.
Last month OpenSignal published its State of Mobile Networks: Malaysia report, examining the 3G and 4G experience provided by the Southeast Asian country’s large complement of mobile operators. Today, we’re drilling down into that data a bit more to see how those six operators’ 4G services stacks up in Malaysia’s largest city and political and economic center: Kuala Lumpur.
We looked at 4G availability and 4G speeds in Kuala Lumpur between June 1 and August 31 so we could compare the results directly against the national averages we recorded for each operator in our report. Let’s start with 4G availability.