State of Mobile Networks: Taiwan (July 2017)

East Asia has long been known as a hotbed for 4G technology, and Taiwan is playing no small part in maintaining that reputation for mobile broadband innovation. In OpenSignal's first report on Taiwan, we measured some of the fastest LTE speeds in the world and discovered there are few places that 4G signals fail to penetrate. Drawing on more than 286 million tests, we examined the 3G and 4G experience in Taiwan, analyzing results from five different operators.

Report Facts

286,874,402
Measurements
13,580
Test Devices
2017-03-01 - 2017-05-31
Sample Period
Taiwan
Report Location

Highlights

Signals, signals everywhere

Taiwan is one of the top regions in the world in supplying consistent LTE signals, and it shows in our 4G availability metric. All five operators we examined had LTE availability scores higher than 80%, meaning our testers were able to latch onto a 4G connection in more than 4 out of every 5 attempts.

FarEasTone dominates our speed metrics

One operator stood apart from the rest in OpenSignal's metrics. FarEasTone won four of our six categories outright, including our awards for fastest 4G, 3G and overall speeds. In LTE speed alone we measured average download connections on FarEasTone at 41.7 Mbps, 14 Mbps faster than its nearest rival.

GT, FarEasTone win our 4G availability awards

While all of Taiwan's operators performed exceptionally in LTE availability, two operators distinguished themselves at the top of the list. Both GT and FarEasTone delivered an LTE signal more than 89% of the time in OpenSignal's measurements.

LTE speeds vary widely from operator to operator

While all five operators provided consistently high 4G reach, we can't say the same about 4G speed. There was a 26 Mbps gap between the fastest average 4G speeds we measured in Taiwan and the slowest.

Awards Table

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

Chunghwa

FarEasTone

medal medal medal medal medal

GT

medal

T Star

Taiwan Mobile

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

Taiwan may be an island, but it's by no means isolated from the steady beat of progress in the mobile industry. OpenSignal found impressive 3G and 4G speeds in Taiwan along with access to 4G connections among the world's best. What's more, Taiwan's high marks weren't from the efforts of one or two operators. All five of the service providers we examined performed admirably in 4G availability, and the majority delivered mobile broadband connections well above the global average.

For OpenSignal's first State of Mobile Networks: Taiwan report, we parsed more than 286 million measurements collected by 13,850 OpenSignal smartphone and smart device users over a three month period between March and May. We examined the 3G and 4G experience of those users on the four largest operators: Chunghwa Telecom, FarEasTone, Taiwan Mobile and Taiwan Star Telecom. We also included data from Asia Pacific Telecom's GT, an up-and-coming operator that recently shut down its legacy CDMA networks to focus solely on 4G services.

On the cutting edge of 4G availability

No matter what service they subscribed to, 4G users in Taiwan had no trouble finding an LTE connection. Rather than measure geographic coverage, OpenSignal's availability metric measures the proportion of time subscribers can connect to a particular network. In the case of Taiwan, all five operators we examined had 4G availability scores above 80%. In most regions of the world, one operator breaking the 80% barrier is typically a sign of a sophisticated LTE market. Five operators achieving 80% or greater 4G availability is quite the impressive feat. Those results were also reflected in our recently published State of LTE report, where Taiwan ranked in the top 10 in 4G availability amongst the 75 countries and territories we analyzed.

Though all of Taiwan's operators provided consistent LTE connectivity, two operators separated themselves from the group. Our testers were able to connect to GT and FarEasTone's LTE signals more than 89% of the time, resulting in a statistical tie for our 4G availability award. Of particular note is GT's exceptional performance in 4G availability considering its relatively small size. But this is a trend we see regularly among 4G-only operators (Asia Pacific Telecom is migrating the last of its CDMA subscribers to LTE this year). With no 3G network to fall back on, 4G-only operators rely on LTE as the sole building block for their mobile footprints, rather than as a network overlay.

FarEasTone's focus on speed

When it came to mobile broadband speed, FarEasTone had no equal in our test results. It won all three of OpenSignal's speed awards, often by very large margins. For LTE speed we measured FarEasTone's average download connection at 41.7 Mbps, more than 14 Mbps faster than its nearest competitor. Chunghwa, Taiwan Mobile and T Star were by no means slow. Their average LTE speed tests fell in the 20.9 to 27.4 Mbps range — well above the global average of 16.2 Mbps we measured in our State of LTE report. The only operator to fall short of that benchmark was GT with an average speed of 15.2 Mbps in our tests.

There is clearly a big gap between the fastest and slowest 4G services in Taiwan — a full 26 Mbps difference in our measurements — which can be explained by the different types of LTE networks deployed by each operator. While Asia Pacific Telecom has launched LTE on a single frequency band (700 MHz), FarEasTone is now operating in three separate bands, giving it much more 4G capacity than most of its competitors. In addition, Chunghwa, FarEasTone, Taiwan Mobile and T Star have implemented new LTE-Advanced technologies to varying degrees, allowing them to boost their connection speeds. Though there was a lot of variation in 4G speeds, Taiwan overall ranked 22nd in connection speed in our global LTE report, with an average LTE download of 26.9 Mbps.

When we compared 3G performance, we found a much tighter contest. FarEasTone won our award for fastest 3G speed with an average download of 7.8 Mbps, though with measured average speeds of 6.9 Mbps and 6.6 Mbps respectively, Taiwan Mobile and Chunghwa weren't far behind. All three speeds were more than 2 Mbps above the global 3G download average of 4.4 Mbps. As FarEasTone had the fastest 3G and 4G speeds and was tied for best 4G availability in our results, it should come as no surprise that it won OpenSignal's overall speed award with an average connection of 33.9 Mbps across its mobile data networks.

The final metric we examined was latency, which is a measure of a mobile data network's responsiveness. With a low latency connection, communications apps experience less lag time and web pages and video render more quickly. In the 4G latency category, Chunghwa, FarEasTone and Taiwan Mobile all performed well with average latencies below 40 milliseconds in our tests, though FarEasTone took the award for best reaction time. In the 3G category, Taiwan Mobile easily bested its three competitors. Its measured average HSPA latency of 54.7ms is a score we're accustomed to seeing on LTE networks.

Out with the old, in with the new

Our results may show that FarEasTone has a distinct performance advantage in 4G, but the mobile landscape in Taiwan is changing quickly. Taiwanese regulator NCC has announced plans to free up 150 MHz of new 4G spectrum, either by repurposing old 3G airwaves or identifying new mobile broadband frequencies. New airwaves mean more capacity and more options for operators to upgrade their networks with LTE-Advanced.

We'll soon see one generation of technology disappear to make room for the next generation of mobility. GT isn't the only one shutting down its legacy networks. All of Taiwan's operators have confirmed they'll sunset their 2G networks by the end of August, clearing those airwaves for more sophisticated mobile technologies. Several operators are already looking ahead to 5G networks of the future. Chunghwa, FarEasTone and Taiwan Mobile have inked deals with global infrastructure vendors for 5G development. It will take several years before the first 5G signal connects to a consumer device in Taiwan, but in the interim 4G technologies will continue their steady progress.

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. For more information on how we collect and analyze our data see our methodology page.

For this particular report, 286,874,402 datapoints were collected from 13,580 users during the period: 2017-03-01 - 2017-05-31.

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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