Costa Rica's mobile broadband race is no longer a one-horse contest. While Movistar dominated all of OpenSignal's 3G and 4G metrics in our last State of Mobile Networks report, in our latest results, Kölbi has surpassed Movistar in two of our speed categories, while Claro is challenging Movistar in 3G. Drawing on 117 million measurements, OpenSignal has again partnered with Sutel to compare the 3G and 4G data services of Costa Rica's three major operators. (Click here for a Spanish language version of this report.)
In August Kölbi added hundreds of new LTE cell sites, creating a denser 4G network in urban areas. Consequently we recorded a big boost in Kölbi's LTE download speed, which more than doubled in six months. With a measured average download of 10 Mbps Kölbi landed OpenSignal's 4G speed award.
Though Movistar's 4G availability held steady since our last report, the Telefónica subsidiary maintained its substantial lead in the metric. Our testers were able to latch onto a Movistar LTE signal 72.3% of the time. Movistar's closest rival in this metric was Kölbi, which had a 4G availability of 60.8%.
While its 4G speed was second only to Kölbi's in our measurements, Claro's 4G availability score was far below those of its competitors. Our Claro users were able to access an LTE connection less than 50% of the time.
Though we definitely see signs of 4G speeds improving, Costa Rica's LTE connections still rate among the world's slowest. In a recent global analysis, OpenSignal found the average 4G download speed in Costa Rica to be 7 Mbps, less than half of the global average of 16.6 Mbps.
|Download Speed: 4G||Download Speed: 3G||Download Speed: Overall||Latency: 4G||Latency: 3G||Availability: 4G|
This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users.
This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For this report, OpenSignal partnered with Costa Rican regulator Sutel to examine more than 117 million measurements collected from 9,581 consumer devices between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 of 2017. We compared speeds, availability and latency on the 3G and 4G services of Costa Rica's three major operators: América Móvil's Claro, Grupo ICE's Kölbi and Telefónica's Movistar. Let's start first with LTE speed, a category where we have a new winner.
Kölbi took OpenSignal's 4G speed award with an average download of 10 Mbps, more than double the download speed we recorded on its networks in our June analysis. Kölbi has been busy over the last two quarters, building 452 new cell sites primarily in densely populated areas and high traffic zones like shopping centers. The results were abundantly clear in its 4G speed tests. Meanwhile, Claro debuted in our 4G metrics with an average download of 8 Mbps. The speed winner of our June report Movistar fell to last place in our rankings with a 4G speed of 5.2 Mbps.
In 3G speed, we recorded a statistical draw between Movistar and Claro, each averaging just over 2 Mbps. But Kölbi's 4G speed was able to overcome any 3G limitations, landing it our overall speed award.
Though Kölbi managed to push Costa Rica's average 4G speeds higher, Costa Rica's 4G networks are still slow when compared to those in other countries. In OpenSignal's recently published State of LTE report, Costa Rica ranked 76th out of 77 countries in 4G speed, and all three operators fell well below the global 4G download average of 16.6 Mbps.
In our 4G availability metric, Movistar maintained its considerable lead over its competitors. Our users were able to connect to Movistar's LTE network 72.3% of the time. Kölbi's LTE network expansion definitely led to some improvements in 4G availability — jumping from 56.5% to 60.8% between reports — but the increase wasn't enough to close the considerable gap with Movistar in our measurements. Both operators put Claro to shame, though. Our testers on Claro's network were only able to find a 4G signal 42.4% of the time.
Our final category, latency, measures a network's responsiveness. Low latency connections are ideal for supporting real-time communications apps like video chat. Movistar won our 4G latency category, but we recorded a three-way tie in 3G latency.
Costa Rica's mobile industry still has a long way to go before it can match the high-performance and far-reaching networks we see in much of the world, but we definitely see signs of steady improvement. In six months Kölbi more than doubled its 4G speed in our tests, and Movistar has already set a high bar for 4G availability. If Costa Rica's operators can continue to push their 4G limits, they'll quickly close the network gap.
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