4G LTE is increasingly more important to consumers' experience on mobile, with subscriptions for the service, as well as its availability, having grown dramatically over the past year.
The OpenSignal app (on iOS and Android) allows users to contribute data to our impartial coverage maps of mobile networks. We took data from those of our 11 million users who have LTE plans and focused on their experience of two key metrics: download speed, and the proportion of time spent with access to the LTE network. All data included in this report comes from February 2015 - April 2015 inclusive.
We found that not all LTE networks are created equal, with big differences between countries and networks.
Hover over a country's flag to see only that country's networks
This quadrant graph allows for an overview of LTE network performance, combining both Time on LTE and Download Speed to build a picture of true network performance. This graph makes it easy to see that the South Korean networks are among the best performing in the world, recording above average speeds and near-total coverage. SingTel in Singapore are another network that performs well, with the third fastest speed of all of our eligible networks and extremely good coverage. The world's fastest network is TDC Denmark, whose 'time on' also ranks above average.
Personal Argentina record the lowest time on LTE of all the eligible networks, while Iran's MTL Irancell is the slowest of all eligible networks (we exclude many networks where we have speed/coverage readings on LTE due to small sample sizes - we have only included networks in this report where we feel that our data accurately represents the user experience).
'Time on' (*) is our proprietary metric for looking at coverage, based on user experience rather than geography. Coverage is most important where users actually spend their time, especially for LTE (as it provides a layer of service that is non-essential for emergencies, unlike voice or basic internet connection). Our metric looks at the proportion of time a user has access to the LTE network, which gives a more accurate look at how real-world users are being served by their provider.
For 'Time on LTE' we see South Korea as having comfortably the best coverage globally, with all three of its networks at the top of the global ranking. LG U+ ranks the best of all of our eligible networks, with its users experiencing 99% time on 4G LTE. In the United States Verizon performs best, with its 4G users having access to the network 88% of the time.
Singapore has the fastest average mobile network speeds in the world, averaging 24 Mbps. Danish network TDC comes out the fastest of our eligible networks, with impressive speeds of 28Mbps. T-Mobile are the fastest network for LTE in the US, although US LTE speeds rank among the slowest in the world overall.
Saudi Arabian networks are the slowest country for 4G LTE, with all three recording speeds below 5Mbps.
LTE is, on average, the fastest network technology available, outperforming 3G and Wi-Fi by a considerable margin globally. It is important to bear in mind, however, the differences in performance between Wi-Fi and 4G LTE globally are determined by incredibly varying performance in different countries. For instance, according to our data, 4G LTE in Saudi Arabia is only 50% faster as the global average for 3G. Similarly, Wi-Fi speeds differ greatly across different regions of the world – so this chart is just there to give an indication of the relative performance of different technologies in their current state.
Hit play or move the slider to see the evolution of LTE
This interactive map shows the state of current LTE service worldwide. Since our last report 3 months ago six more countries have added LTE, bringing the global number up to 130. Click the 'play' button to see how LTE has spread globally since its introduction in Scandinavia back in 2010.Download report
The data in this report comes from 333,881 global OpenSignal LTE users, who have contributed data during the period February 2015 - April 2015 inclusive.
All of the data comes from users of the OpenSignal Android app, iOS data is not currently included.
Networks for which we have data were only included if the volume of collected data was above our threshold for statistical confidence, networks below this threshold were excluded from the rankings.
For the country averages we included all valid tests from within that country, including tests from non-included networks. This explains why the countrywide averages may not appear to match up with the displayed networks from that country.
This is just an overview of the main methodology decisions. For more information, read our further methodology documentation.
(*) Editor’s note: In June of 2016, OpenSignal changed the name of its "time on" metric to network availability. Availability measures the same thing as time on — the proportion of time users remain connected to a particular network — but we felt that "availability" was a better reflection of the metric’s definition. For more details see our methodology page.