State of Mobile Networks: Costa Rica (June 2017)

OpenSignal’s latest data indicates that Movistar has maintained its lead position ahead of the competition since our last report in November, and while we still saw slow mobile broadband speeds across the board, Kölbi has shown a significant improvement in 4G availability. More than 56 million measurements, sampled over a 3-month period, form the basis of this latest OpenSignal report on the 3G and 4G mobile data services of Costa Rica’s three cellular operators Claro, Kölbi and Movistar.

Report Facts

56,237,440
Measurements
2,722
Test Devices
2017-02-01 - 2017-04-30
Sample Period
Costa Rica
Report Location

Highlights

Movistar - still out in front

OpenSignal’s availability, latency and speed awards all -- once again -- go to Movistar. The operator has managed to stay ahead of its rivals despite its performance metrics remaining relatively static since our report last November. The consistency of its scores, however, does indicate a stable base from which it can build on.

Kölbi makes significant strides in 4G reach

While Movistar stays in lead position, in terms of 4G availability, our measurements indicate that Kölbi is catching up fast. It has closed the previous 33 percentage point gap between the two operators to just 16 points. Our users were able to find a Kölbi LTE signal 57% of the time.

Few performance changes

Notwithstanding Kölbi’s 4G service advances, our three Costa Rican mobile operators overall have seen few significant changes to their mobile data availability, speeds and latency scores since our last report. In fact, we noticed declines in some individual metrics in our latest data.

Spectrum will unlock 4G potential

While 4G speeds continue to sit well below worldwide averages, the country’s upcoming 1800MHz/1900MHz/2100MHz spectrum auction should lead to improvements across the board, as long as all three operators meet minimum requirements of the regulator.

Awards Table

Download Speed: 4G Download Speed: 3G Download Speed: Overall Latency: 4G Latency: 3G Availability: 4G

Claro

Kölbi

Movistar

medal medal medal medal medal medal

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Performance by Metric

Availability: 4G

This metric shows the proportion of time OpenSignal users have an LTE connection available to them on each operator’s network. It's a measure of how often users can access a 4G network rather than a measure of geographic or population coverage.

Download Speed: 4G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: 3G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: Overall

This metric shows the average download speed experienced by OpenSignal users across all of an operator's 3G and 4G networks. Overall speed doesn't just factor in 3G and LTE speeds, but also the availability of each network technology. Operators with lower LTE availability tend to have lower overall speeds because their customers spend more time connected to slower 3G networks.

Latency: 4G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Latency: 3G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Analysis

From February 1 to April 30, OpenSignal captured 56.2 million measurements from 2,722 smartphones equipped with our app on Costa Rica’s three major networks: América Móvil’s Claro, Grupo ICE's Kölbi and Telefónica's Movistar. This data forms the basis of our latest State of Mobile Networks report for Costa Rica.

Focusing on 4G services, OpenSignal’s availability, latency and speed awards once again go to Movistar, whose 73.3% 4G service availability has remained relatively the same since we published our last Costa Rica report in November. Movistar is still well in the lead, 16 percentage points in front of its nearest rival in our measurements. Our users on Kölbi, on the other hand, are now benefitting from LTE signals on their devices 56.5% of the time, which is a full 12 percentage points above its previous results. Movistar’s already impressive 4G availability and Kölbi’s quick improvement should bode well for a competitive 4G future in the country. Unfortunately, limited 4G data was available from Claro-connected devices, so the operator has been excluded from this category.

Costa Rica still in the 4G slow lane

When it comes to 4G download speeds, Movistar was a full megabit-per-second ahead of its nearest 4G rival Kölbi, delivering an average download of 5.8 Mbps in our measurements. These speeds should be seen in the global context where average LTE download speeds are 16.2 Mbps, according to our recently published State of LTE report. In our analysis of 75 countries, Costa Rica as a whole came in dead last in average 4G speeds. There is clearly room for improvement. That said Costa Rica’s spectrum situation, which has been a restricting factor, is set to change with the country’s upcoming 1800MHz/1900MHz/2100MHz spectrum auction.

Our latest report also looked at 3G download speeds, with all three operators, Movistar, Claro and Kölbi, still offering relatively slow speeds. We measured average 3G speeds for all three below 2.5 Mbps, which is well below the global average of 4.4 Mbps, as indicated in our State of LTE report.

Our results this time round also assessed overall average download speeds, which measure the typical speed experienced by users across both the 3G and 4G networks of each operator. At 4.6 Mbps Movistar was the fastest operator in our measurements with speeds nearly double that of Kölbi’s 2.7 Mbps, and more than double that of Claro’s 1.8 Mbps. Not only does Movistar have the fastest LTE speeds in our measurements, but its customers have access to those fast 4G connections more often. Where subscribers are still having to rely more frequently on 3G service availability because of lack of 4G signals, then the overall download speeds reflect this.

Our final metric, latency, is a measure of a network’s reaction time, and it can have a big impact on customer experience. Lower latency connections mean web pages and videos begin loading faster and users experience less lag time in real-time communications apps. Movistar, once again, won our awards in this category for both 3G and 4G service delivery, with its users experiencing the shortest lag times in our tests. Behind Movistar in the 3G latency stakes, Claro and Kölbi were neck and neck in the category.

Brighter 4G future on the horizon

Winning all our awards for availability, speed and latency, Movistar offers the fastest and most consistent – though, like its rivals, somewhat slow – 3G and 4G experience in our test results. While all three Costa Rican operators’ mobile performance has remained relatively consistent over the past six months, our data shows Movistar is besting its rivals by a considerable margin.

That said, the mobile landscape in Costa Rica is set to change as new spectrum is released in Sutel’s forthcoming auctions. This OpenSignal report coincides with the news, earlier in June, that the regulator, Sutel, has now cleared both Movistar and Claro to bid for spectrum in the 1800MHz, 1900MHz and 2100MHz bands. With more spectrum, operators will be able to add more 4G capacity, delivering faster speeds and improved customer experience.

Our Methodology

OpenSignal data is collected from consumer smartphones and recorded under conditions of normal usage. As opposed to drive-test data, which attempts to simulate what a user might 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 regular people who have downloaded OpenSignal’s apps.

Those measurements are taken wherever users happen to be, whether indoors or out, in a city or in the countryside, representing a mobile data service the way users experience it. We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the changing experience of consumers on mobile networks and therefore comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only. For more information on how we collect and analyze our data see our methodology page.

For this particular report, 56,237,440 datapoints were collected from 2,722 users during the period: 2017-02-01 - 2017-04-30.

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

For every metric we've calculated statistical confidence intervals and plotted them on all of the graphs. When confidence intervals overlap for a certain metric, our measured results are too close to declare a winner in a particular category. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

©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.

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