Like so many other countries in the adolescent years of LTE, Chile is experiencing some awkward 4G growing pains. A big surge in 4G availability in the Andean country has been accompanied by a slowdown in 4G download speed, as huge numbers of consumers flock to 4G services. Analyzing 444 million measurements collected over 90 days in May, June and July, OpenSignal has broken down the 3G and 4G results of Chile's four major operators.
For three straight reports, Claro was king of OpenSignal's 4G download speed metric in Chile, but in our most recent test period, the América Móvil subsidiary lost its crown. Entel's 4G download score increased slightly in six months, while Claro's score fell by 3 Mbps. That put Entel firmly in the lead with an average speed of 18.3 Mbps in our 4G download measurements.
LTE connections are becoming more and more commonplace in Chile as 4G availability on all four national operators keeps climbing. Claro saw the biggest growth in LTE reach in our measurements, but Movistar held onto our 4G availability award with a score of 78.3%.
Average LTE download speeds continued their steady decline for most of Chile's operators in this test period. The only operator that recorded an increase in this metric was Entel, and that gain was incremental. For Claro, Movistar and WOM, we measured significant drops of 3 Mbps or more.
In our analysis of Chile's three largest cities, we saw all operators improve on their national 4G availability scores, but only in Concepción did all four operators significantly boost their 4G download speeds beyond their national averages.
|Download Speed: 4G||Download Speed: 3G||Download Speed: Overall||Upload Speed: 4G||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 upload speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users.
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.
This chart shows the regional winners in each category OpenSignal measures. Click on the icons to see a more detailed graph showing each operator’s metrics in a particular region.
|Region||Download Speed: 4G||Latency: 4G||Availability: 4G|
In the fourth installment of our Chile report, OpenSignal analyzed more than 444 million measurements collected from 31,084 devices between May 1 and July 29, 2018. We compared our 3G and 4G results on the national level for Chile's four major operators: América Móvil’s Claro, Entel, Telefónica’s Movistar and WOM. In addition, we drilled deeper into Chile's three largest urban areas centered on Santiago, Concepción and Valparaíso to compare the four operators' 4G results. Let's start with the larger national trends we see in 4G speed and availability.
Chilean operators certainly have cause to be proud of their rapidly growing 4G reach. In the six months since our Mobile Networks Update: Chile report, we've tracked impressive gains in 4G availability from all four national operators. Three operators have now passed the 70% 4G availability threshold, while two have climbed above 75% in our measurements. If operators keep expanding access to 4G services at their current rate, in the coming year we'll likely see one or more operators break the 80% 4G availability barrier, which would be a definite sign of the Chilean 4G market reaching maturity.
As for the specific operators, all four of them saw their availability scores grow by at least 3 percentage points in the last six months, but we recorded the biggest gains on Claro, an increase of more than 6 percentage points. Claro, though, was also the operator the furthest behind in this metric. The América Móvil subsidiary is closing the gap on its rivals, but its 4G availability of 66.3% wasn't enough to make up the distance between it and its three competitors, all of which were well beyond 70% in our latest measurements. Meanwhile Movistar's score of 78.3% secured it our 4G availability award once again.
In our 4G download speed metric, we saw the trend in Chile go in the opposite direction. Average LTE download speeds for three of the four operators took substantial dips in our metrics since the March report. Our previous 4G speed leader Claro saw its 4G download score drop nearly 3 Mbps to 17.2 Mbps, and we measured drops of nearly 4 Mbps in WOM and Movistar's averages. Entel's was the only 4G download score for which we recorded a gain, and that gain was incremental enough to be statistically inconsequential. Even so, by holding firm in our metrics with an average speed of 18.3 Mbps, Entel was able to wrest OpenSignal's 4G download award away from Claro.
Chile's downstream 4G speeds have been declining steadily for a while now. Two years ago, three operators averaged LTE download speeds above 20 Mbps, compared to none in this report. This is a trend we often see in countries as their 4G markets start maturing. When LTE networks first launch in a country, they start out lightly loaded with 4G users. But as operators aggressively convert their subscribers over to new 4G services and LTE phones, those new users load up the network, creating competition for limited capacity and causing average download speeds to drop. And Chile's operators have definitely been aggressive in migrating their customers to LTE. The country's largest operator Entel reported in August that 4G subscriptions had grown 66% year over year to 4.2 million and now accounted for nearly half of its total mobile user base.
In our 4G upload speed metric, we had a statistical draw for our award between Claro and Entel, but we recorded fast upload speeds for WOM as well. All three averaged LTE upload speeds over 7 Mbps in our metrics. In 3G download speed, Entel held on to first place for the fourth consecutive report with an average HSPA connection of 4.6 Mbps. We did see some small declines across the operators in our 3G download metric, though not to the level we saw in 4G download speed.
With both 4G and 3G download speeds falling, you would expect to see a significant drop in our overall download speed metric, which measures the typical connection speeds users see on an everyday basis. But in general overall speeds held relatively steady because of the operators' big gains in 4G availability. As consumers gained access to 4G signals more often, they spent less time on slower 3G networks. Our measurements show that Claro's overall speed remained the same since our last report at 11.5 Mbps, while Entel's overall download average grew by more than a megabit to 13.9 Mbps. Only Movistar and WOM's overall download scores fell as their 4G availability gains weren't enough to overcome the declines we tracked in their 4G speeds.
In our latency categories, which measure the response time of networks, we recorded relatively little movement in our 4G results, but we saw some interesting trends on 3G. HSPA latency measurements for all four operators improved significantly, but for some the gains were bigger than others. That resulted in a complete flipflop of the awards table. Six months ago, Entel won our 3G latency award easily, but in our most recent tests we found a three-way draw between Claro, Movistar and WOM.
In our analysis of Chile's largest metro areas, we found that 4G reach far exceeded national levels, making the big cities good places to find LTE signals. Entel and Movistar were able to provide our users with LTE connections more than 80% of the time in Concepción, Santiago and Valparaíso, while WOM surpassed 80% availability in Santiago. Entel won our 4G availability award in Santiago though, while it shared the prize with Movistar in Concepción and Valparaíso.
4G download speeds, however, were generally consistent with the Chile-wide averages for each operator — with one exception. In Concepción, all four operators had 4G download speed scores well above their national averages. Two operators, Claro and Entel, broke the 20 Mbps barrier in the central-south city. In most countries 4G speeds tend to be faster in urban areas as cities are where operators make the biggest infrastructure investments. The same likely capacity constraints that have caused national speeds to suffer are possibly even more pronounced in Santiago and Valparaíso. In Concepción, operators may have done a better job keeping capacity levels high, or alternately we may be seeing the beginning of LTE upgrades in Concepción that could eventually spread to other cities and the rest of Chile. Either way, we'll be keeping a close eye on these three cities in coming reports for signs of new network investment. LTE speeds will eventually recover in Chile, as they do in every country, and when that rebound comes, it will start in the big metropoles.
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