OpenSignal Insights

Vodafone’s 4G dominance under threat in Italy’s regions

Italy is a wonderfully colourful nation with a proud regional heritage, perhaps best reflected in its rich and varied cuisine, which is famed the world over. In the North, Bologna is the home of the true ragu, while Parma has its hams and cheeses. Towards the centre of the country, Rome lays claim to carbonara and amatriciana pasta sauces, whereas Umbria is known for its pork products, especially salami and prosciutto. In the South, Naples prides itself on inventing pizza, Campania has Buffalo Mozzarella, while Calabria is known for its spicy pepper dishes. And of the islands, Sicily is famed for cannoli and arancini, whereas Sardinia has its seafood.

Italians have spent centuries debating who has the finest cuisine, but now they have something new to contest: the quality of their regional 4G services. So how do Italy’s mobile operators perform in OpenSignal’s regional 4G user experience metrics? OpenSignal has taken a deep dive into regional data to see how the four operators we covered in our recent State of Mobile Networks: Italy report stacked up in 4G download speed and 4G availability.

Our latest State of Mobile Networks report saw Vodafone dominating our national awards table, winning four categories including 4G download speed and 4G availability. And this success was mirrored in Italy’s regions, where the operator won seven out of our 12 regional awards and drew with TIM in the other five. But as with our national categories, the former incumbent is pressuring Vodafone in almost all of our regional metrics.


Italy regions map

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Verizon and T-Mobile try to outdo one another in 4G reach

A year ago, T-Mobile US accomplished quite a coup in our metrics. It surpassed Verizon in our 4G availability measurements last August, and for the last two U.S. State of Mobile Networks reports it’s held onto to that lead. But in OpenSignal’s new U.S. report, Verizon has made up its lost ground. The two operators were numerically tied for our 4G availability award as each was able to offer a 4G signal to our testers 93.7% of the time.

To be fair, Verizon didn’t have much of a gap to close. For the last two years, both operators have been neck-and-neck in this metric even as they both expanded the reach of their LTE networks. It also shows how important boosting LTE access is to both operators. A 1 percentage point increase in an operator’s 4G availability score translates to an additional 7 hours each month the typical consumer maintains an LTE connection. Therefore we shouldn’t be surprised to see that availability and reliability have become cornerstones of a new Verizon ad campaign. In one commercial, Verizon explains how it rigorously tests a new distributed antenna system in the lower deck of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge, an area notorious for dropped signals. In another, a Verizon technician climbs an ice-covered cell tower in Alaska to ensure service is working properly along a frigid, rural stretch of highway. It’s likely no coincidence that Verizon’s 4G availability score is growing just as it’s touting the long arm of its network.

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India becoming increasingly switched on to the potential of Wifi

The government in India is becoming increasingly turned on to the potential of public Wifi networks, planning to provide coverage to some 250,000 Panchayats (local administrative offices) and 5000 railway stations within the next two years. This interest is justified as smartphone penetration grows. The World Bank believes that a 10% increase in Internet penetration can generate a 1.4% increase in GDP. And this would likely be even higher in a developing market like India with a large rural population and limited access to banking and e-payment services that smartphones can provide.

There’s been a huge amount of excitement around 4G networks in India, as competition rises and more and more Indians are coming online. In our last State of Mobile Networks: India report, we measured substantial improvements in 4G availability in India, as operators have made access to LTE signals a new priority. But Wifi connectivity among mobile users is still relatively low in India, even though the focus on Wifi has been renewed.

Wifi networks don’t get the same amount of interest in the subcontinent, as the evolution of telecoms has somewhat skipped the fixed-broadband stage of development and raced straight onto 4G. Nonetheless, there are a significant number of Wifi users in India connecting at home or at work, while publicly-accessible Wifi is becoming more and more important as data use increases.

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Taiwan has many frontrunners in OpenSignal’s 4G metrics

If you’re looking for a single 4G leader in Taiwan, you have a tough choice to make. In OpenSignal’s State of Mobile Networks: Taiwan report published today, we had four winners for the four 4G metrics we tracked. Chunghwa took the award for 4G download speed. FarEasTone stood out in our 4G upload speed and latency categories. Finally GT and Taiwan Mobile were tied for first place in our 4G availability metric. When it comes to technical prowess, the level of 4G competition in Taiwan is intense.

Taiwan's iconic skyscraper Taipei 101 (Photo courtesy of Flickr user Eduardo M. C.)

Taiwan’s iconic skyscraper Taipei 101 (Photo courtesy of Flickr user Eduardo M. C.)

The good news for Taiwan’s consumers is that the overall 4G experience on the island is in solid shape, and in many areas it’s improving. All five Taiwanese operators were able to provide 4G connections more than 85% of the time, according to our 4G availability measurements. Our results also show that two operators, GT and Taiwan Mobile, have crossed the 90% LTE availability threshold.

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Seoul and Singapore top OpenSignal’s list of East Asia’s fastest 4G cities

In the last year, OpenSignal has ramped up its coverage in East Asia, introducing new State of Mobile Networks reports for Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. While we’ve done plenty of analysis within specific countries in the region, it’s high time we took a broader look at the region as a whole. In the first of a series of blog posts looking at East Asia, we’ve decided to examine the 4G download and upload speeds of the major cities in the region to see how they compare.

For this analysis, we looked at 12 cities, each representing the big economic centers of their respective countries or territories, drawing on data from the March-May test period. You can see the results in the chart below.

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The 5G investment conundrum: Cutting through the hype

As we move into the second half of 2018, the hype around 5G shows no signs of diminishing. There was palpable excitement about the next generation of mobile networks at Mobile World Congress in February, driven by flashy demos from vendors touting their network solutions. And at the FIFA World Cup football tournament in Russia at the moment, local operators MTS and MegaFon are demonstrating the technology in special 5G trial zones.

However, the investment case for mobile operators is not much clearer now than it was a year ago. Operators are jumping on the 5G bandwagon, announcing early trials and ambitious network launch dates that, fingers crossed, will be met. But once you’ve cut through all the hype and razzmatazz, what’s the business case for 5G? And what impact will this new generation of technologies have on improving the mobile customer experience?

Ericsson 5G

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One operator edges ahead in the Colombian 4G speed race

The race for the top spots in OpenSignal’s Colombia 4G speed metrics is opening up, as one operator has pulled ahead of the pack in our 4G download and overall speed categories. Our latest State of Mobile Networks: Colombia report shows that Tigo has inched ahead in both these key metrics.

Tigo topped our 4G download speed category with an average speed of 18.8 Mbps, beating Claro’s score of 17.6 Mbps and Movistar’s 16.5 Mbps. Colombia’s operators registered a three-way draw in this metric in our last report six months ago. Tigo also won our overall download speed category, pulling ahead of Movistar after the two scored a draw six months previous. Tigo’s winning average speed of 10.5 Mbps in our measurements was closely followed though by Movistar on 9.6 Mbps and Claro’s 9 Mbps.

Colombia beetle

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Telstra scores a winner in Australia 4G upload speeds

Australia is well known for its love of sport. This summer, their cricket team are playing away in England and Zimbabwe, the rugby team host Ireland, while the football team are hoping to get beyond the group stages at the World Cup in Russia (they reached the last 16 in OpenSignal’s own World Cup of mobile networks).

And more and more fans will be enjoying and interacting with their favorite teams via mobile devices. Over 8 billion digital interactions are expected during the World Cup, and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has 128 million followers on Instagram alone. An increasing part of the sports fan experience is sharing your passion for your team on social media, via Facebook photos, Tweets and video uploads.

But how are Australia’s mobile networks expected to perform with a summer of sports uploading? OpenSignal took a look at our measurements for average 4G upload speeds for the country’s three national operators in the previous three months – and the winner was something of a surprise.

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Ripe fruit and rotten tomatoes – our pick of Spain’s mobile crop

Summer in Spain is well underway, meaning the festival season is upon us. Madrid has Mad Cool, Seville is gearing up for Nocturama, while Barcelona’s Primavera has been and gone. But if you’re heading to Valencia for Benicassim, you might want to consider staying on for a few weeks for one of the world’s most unusual festivals: La Tomatina. The festival in Bunol in celebration of the humble tomato is basically just one big food fight. It all started in 1945 when crowds at a parade accidentally overturned a vegetable cart – and the first tomato was thrown.

The good news for festival-goers is that nearby Valencia has some of the best 4G availability in Spain, with two of the country’s national operators scoring over 90% in our latest State of Mobile Networks report. But just be sure to keep the tomatoes out of your phone.

Spain TomatinaPhoto by flydime on Flickr

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Explaining the huge gap between fastest and slowest 4G upload speeds in the US

With our summer U.S. report around the corner, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a metric that will feature in OpenSignal’s U.S. reports going forward. That metric is upload speed, and it’s becoming an increasingly important measure of the consumer mobile data experience. When the 4G age dawned, download speed was king as it determined how quickly we could surf the internet and the quality of mobile video. But as social media has boomed, we’re no longer a society of content consumers; we’ve become content creators. And when it comes to sharing the selfies we snap and the videos we record, the ability to send large quantities of data upstream assumes paramount status.

We decided to take a first look at how the four nationwide operators in the U.S. compared in 4G upload speed, drawing on our most recent 90-day test period from March to May. What we found was a bit surprising. In any of our speed metrics we typically see a gap between the fastest and slowest scores, but in the case of U.S. operator 4G upload speed that gap was particularly wide.

T-Mobile users racked up the fastest LTE upload speed results, averaging 7.5 Mbps, which was three times faster than the 2.5 Mbps average we measured for Sprint users. Verizon came in right behind T-Mobile in our measurements with a score of 7 Mbps, while AT&T was 3 Mbps off the leader with an average 4G upload of 4.5 Mbps in our tests.

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