OpenSignal has its origins in Buenos Aires - it was where the app was conceived and much initial development took place. Since then we have continued to find inspiration in the city - for example when we discovered that Wi-Fi names were being used to express political allegiance.

Barrios - or neighbourhoods - of Buenos Aires have their own unique characters, and that is no different in terms of mobile internet. In this report we look into the speedtests submitted by our users to see how the barrios fare differently in terms of data connectivity. To make things a little more interesting, we set out to compare data connectivity with public data on property prices, a technique we thought of while in discussion with Pantelis Koutroumpis of Imperial College, who is researching the links between income level by area and the deployment of cellular infrastructure. Interestingly, for cellular data we didn't find strong correlations, but for WiFi we did see a pattern.

Cellular download speed

Red:low Green:high

Where's Coghlan? You might notice we're missing Buenos Aires' smallest barrio, as well as a couple of others; we've excluded them from the map due to low sample size of data collected there within the last 3 months. People of Coghlan! - help us out and grab yourselves a great app: Download OpenSignal.

Villa Lugano wins on speed with an average of 2.38 mbps, so you might think that's where the property prices are highest and cellular infrastructure is best, but you'd be wrong.

Property price (per square metre)

In very general terms the most expensive property is in the north of the city, while - with the notable exception of Puerto Madero - property is cheaper closer to the Riachuelo river that marks the souhern boundary. This data is from Buenos Aires City Government.

We see that Villa Lugano is in fact the place where property prices are lowest. We are guessing that the unusually good performance there in comparison to the rest of the city may not be due to superior network infrastructure but simply because there is less stress placed on the network (there being fewer smartphone users), this would be consistent with the fact that we received relatively few speedtests from this neighbourhood - 1/5th of the amount we get from Palermo for instance.

Plotting download speed versus property price - yields no obvious correlation:

Note: Puerto Madero is not shown on this scatter plot since it is an outlier in terms of price, it also represents a population of only a few hundred according to census data.

It's important to understand that for Buenos Aires, as with many other Latam markets, speed is not the key factor in determining network experience. The bigger problem is the reliability of the network - how often users can get access to data. Examining this tells a slightly different story.

Cellular reliability

In the context of this study, reliability is the proportion of pings (or attempts to reach the data network) that succeed during speedtests. A reliability of 75% means that 1/4 of the attempts a phone makes to send/receive data over the network will fail.

A cluster of barrios in the north west (centered around Agronomía) perform well, and according to this metric Villa Lugano has an average performance for Buenos Aires. La Boca users suffer the worst service by this measure with an extremely low value of 48%. The values - below 80% for 36% of barrios tested, below 90% for 80% of barrios tested - are low compared to cities in North America and Europe of similar sizes (where most areas are above 90%). While the difference between 80% and 90% might seem slim, at 80% your data fails twice as much as 90%, so it is certainly significant. Check on our home page to look at more cities and put this number into a proper context.

Still, there is no significant correlation to be found with property price:

Things get a little more interesting when we look at WiFi, where we do see a pattern emerging.

WiFi speed

Here we do see a trend, lower speeds where property is cheaper:

This suggests that the wired network structure is worse in lower-cost barrios. However, we should be careful of drawing any fast conclusions: there may be other causes for this correlation. In Argentina, ISPs typically offer several different packages, each having different plans, for example 1/3/6/10/15 mbps WiFi. Since cheaper plans have lower download speeds, a greater proportion of cheap plans in the south could be contributing to the lower average download speeds.

Low WiFi reliability is more often an indicator of some problem with the local setup, rather than showing the performance of the WiFi provider. For this reason we don't include a map for this metric.

Concluding Thoughts

Contrary to what you might expect, buying property in an expensive area does not mean you'll enjoy better cellular data speeds and reliability. Again, we emphasise that there may be a difference in the infrastructure deployed, but sparser infrastructure in low-cost areas might be matched by sparser usage. What we can say is that there is no obvious bias in speeds, and that's a good thing. What is most lacking, however, is reliable access to data, this being low (at least compared to European and North American cities of similar size) for most barrios, and extremely low for some.

For WiFi, we do see a correlation between higher property prices and better data speeds, we are hesitant to attribute this to a bias in infrastructure deployed, rather this may well reflect the different plans chosen by users. Here we're missing a piece of data, if any of the ISPs or anyone else with the information could wants to get in touch, they would be most welcome.

We hope we've given you some feeling for how los cien barrios porteños vary in terms of data speed and reliability. Certainly, we don't recommend relying on your cellphone connection in La Boca. In general terms: while there is no apparent bias in data speeds or reliability to favour more expensive areas, there is considerable variation overall. These are issues the networks should be looking to address while also seeking to raise the average, in particular for cellular reliability.

Further Notes:

This report was based on 11652 speed tests run over the last 3 months.

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