State of Mobile Networks: Brazil (January 2017)

The Olympics are over, eliminating a big distraction for Brazil's operators as they build out their 4G infrastructures. In the three months since the Rio games came to a close, we've already seen signs of improvement, but some problems still linger, most notably Brazil's poor access to 4G signals. For our latest State of Mobile Networks Report for Brazil, OpenSignal parsed 770 million datapoints to see how Brazil's five major operators stacked up.

Share

Sign up to our Newsletter

Claro wins our speed crown

Claro has made big gains in our performance rankings since OpenSignal's last report, winning both our 4G and 3G download speed awards as well as our overall speed prize. In 4G speed, Claro averaged 27.5 Mbps, more than 5 Mbps faster than second place Vivo.

TIM moves ahead in 4G availability

TIM now stands alone at the top of OpenSignal's 4G availability table. Our users were able to connect to an LTE signal 59.2% of the time. Vivo came in second providing an LTE connection to OpenSignal users 56.7% of the time.

LTE availability is still low

As we've seen in our previous reports, Brazil is still struggling to offer consistent LTE connections to its 4G users. No operator was able to deliver an LTE signal more than 60% of the time in our tests, and two operators fell below the 50% mark.

Nextel's 3G latency continues to stand out

Though Nextel has yet to deploy an LTE network extensively and struggles in other performance metrics, the small operator continues to beat the field in one category: 3G latency. We recorded the best reaction time in the country on its newer, more streamlined 3G network.

Report Facts

Report Location Brazil
Data Sample Size 770,286,658
User Sample Size 39,471
Sample Period Sep 1st - Nov 30th 2016

Overall Network Comparison

Download Speed: 4GDownload Speed: 3GDownload Speed: OverallLatency: 4GLatency: 3GAvailability: 4G

Claro

medalmedalmedal

Nextel

medal

Oi

medal

TIM

medal

Vivo

The OpenSignal App: Testing network performance on millions of phones globally

Our app continually runs tests to measure the real world experience users receive. Instead of relying on user-initiated or drive-test simulations, we are able to paint a holistic picture of network’s performance through our background tests and crowdsourcing techniques -- all the while protecting the privacy of our millions of active OpenSignal users. The app has been downloaded over 15 million times collecting billions of measurements.

Network Availability Comparison

Availability: 4G

This metric shows the proportion of time LTE subscribers on each network have a 4G (LTE) connection available to them. It's a measure of the proportion of time users have a 4G signal on a network rather than a measure of geographic or population coverage.

Network Speed Comparison

Download Speed: 4G

This metric shows the average download speed on each network on 4G (LTE) connections.

Download Speed: 3G

This metric shows the average download speed on each network on 3G connections.

Download Speed: Overall

This metric shows the average download speed experienced by a user across all of an operator's networks. Overall speed doesn't just factor in 3G and LTE speeds, but also the availability of each network technology. Operators with lower LTE coverage tend to have lower overall speeds because their customers spend much more time connected to slower 3G networks.

Network Latency Comparison

Latency: 4G

This metric shows the average latency on each network on 4G (LTE) connections. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it travels between points in the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Latency: 3G

This metric shows the average latency on each network on 3G connections. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it travels between points in the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Analysis

Brazil's mobile networks survived the Rio Olympics without any major issues, but it's clear that operators still have some work to do in 4G before the next major global sporting event graces its shores. While 4G speeds in Brazil are getting faster, access to LTE signals is still limited.

As Brazil's operators to continue to expand and upgrade their networks, though, we're seeing some upheaval among the top performers. Claro has emerged as the bandwidth king, displacing Vivo in the No. 1 spot in our 4G speed rankings. Meanwhile TIM pulled away from its peers in 4G availability, a category for which we've seen multiple draws in our previous reports.

Since publishing our last Brazil report in June, OpenSignal has made some adjustments to both the way we collect data from our smartphone apps and the methodology we use to parse that data. The update allows us to make more measurements, examine new types of network metrics and hone the precision of the measurements we've always collected, helping us isolate the typical consumer mobile experience more effectively (for more details, see this blog post). The changes haven't affected our overall rankings of networks in Brazil or around the world, but for sake of analytical rigor we aren't making any direct comparisons between results collected from the two different methodologies.

For this report, OpenSignal drew on 770 million measurements collected between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 by 39,471 smartphone users. We used that data to examine the 3G and 4G performance of Brazil's five nationwide operators: América Móvil's Claro, Nextel Brasil, Oi, Telecom Italia Mobile and Telefónica's Vivo (though as Nextel only operates a 4G network in two cities, we only examined its 3G results nationwide). Let's see how these operators stacked up in our different metrics.

Signal speed vs. availability

Among the biggest surprises of this report were the big strides Claro made in our speed tests. Most notably, we recorded an average 4G download speed for Claro of 27.5 Mbps, which was more than double the average speeds we measured on Oi and TIM's LTE networks. Vivo delivered the second fastest 4G speed in our tests, averaging 21.3 Mbps.

Claro also had the best 3G performance in our speed rankings, averaging HSPA download speeds of 3.9 Mbps. 3G, however, was a much closer contest with TIM and Vivo offering up average speeds of 3.5 Mbps and 3.4 Mbps respectively in our tests. As we measured both the fastest 3G and 4G speeds on its networks, Claro handily won our overall speed category, which calculates the typical download performance across an operator's mobile data networks.

TIM emerged as the clear winner in 4G availability in our latest round of tests. Instead of measuring geographic coverage, our availability metric tracks the percentage of time OpenSignal users have access to a particular network. Our users on TIM were able to find an LTE signal 59.2% of the time. In general, though, no operator in Brazil was able to provide consistent 4G connectivity. Vivo was the only other operator for which we recorded 4G availability above 50%. Oi, which recently filed for bankruptcy, landed at the bottom of our rankings with a score of 43.3%.

The final metric we examined was latency, which measures the reaction time of a network. Low latency connections help web pages begin rendering faster and reduce lag time in real-time communications apps. Oi had the lowest (best) 4G latency in our tests, averaging 52.8 milliseconds. Nextel, however, continued its long trend of beating out the competition in 3G latency in our rankings. The recent HSPA-adopter averaged 3G latency nearly 20ms lower than its nearest competitor.

A regional comparison

Comparing Brazil to other countries, we see both good and bad, depending on what metric you look at. Brazil's overall 4G speed averages 19.7 Mbps, putting it more than 2 Mbps ahead of the global average, according to our recent State of LTE report. But when it comes to 4G availability, Brazil still ranks near the bottom among both its global and South American peers.

We are seeing plenty of signs that the situation is improving. Claro's sudden rise to the top of the 4G speed rankings is likely indicative of new LTE upgrades América Móvil is making to its networks, increasing overall capacity as well as the connection speed available to Claro's customers. Vivo, TIM and Claro are all either testing or deploying LTE networks in two new frequency bands as well as experimenting with new LTE-Advanced technologies. Even Nextel has begun to expand its 4G network, which was previously confined to Rio. We now have plenty of measurements on Nextel's LTE services in Sao Paulo. In short, there's a lot of new network activity in the country. Now that the Olympics hurdle is behind it, Brazilian operators seem to be hunkering down to focus on 4G improvements.

Methodology Notes

OpenSignal data is collected from regular consumer smartphones and recorded under conditions of normal usage. As opposed to drive-test data, which simulates the typical user experience by using the same devices to measure network performance in a small number of locations, we take our measurements from millions of smartphones owned by normal people who have downloaded the OpenSignal app.

Those measurements are taken wherever users happen to be, whether indoors or out, in a city or in the countryside, representing performance the way users experience it. For more information on how we collect and analyze our data see our methodology page.

For this particular report, 770,286,658 datapoints were collected from 39,471 users during the period: Sep 1st - Nov 30th 2016

All data has been collected from users of the OpenSignal mobile app for Android or iOS.

For every metric we've calculated the statistical confidence interval and plotted this on all of the graphs. When confidence intervals overlap for a certain metric we can't actually be sure which of the overlapping operators has the best performance.

For this reason some metrics have multiple operator winners when we've judged that the data is too close to call a victory.

Sign up to our Newsletter

To download the PDF report, just enter your email address. We'll also keep you notified of future OpenSignal reports.

Download report

We'll keep you updated when we release new reports. In the meantime here's the pdf for this one.

Our Solutions

See how our data and analytics can help your business

Visit the solutions site

©2017 OpenSignal, Inc. All rights reserved.

OpenSignal, Inc retains ownership of this report including all intellectual property rights, data, content, graphs & analysis. Reports produced by OpenSignal, Inc may not be quoted, reproduced, distributed, published for any commercial purpose (including use in advertisements or other promotional content) without prior written consent.