OpenSignal Insights

High 4G availability coupled with stunning speeds – Canada’s mobile scene improves year on year

Canada has been at the forefront of 4G for several years now, but it seems the past year brought even wider reach and faster speeds to mobile users. So how are the individual operators stacking up?


Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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Minneapolis’s 4G in good shape for the Super Bowl

Just a couple of days away, the annual championship of the NFL will kick off in Minneapolis. With a million visitors expected to attend the biggest sports event in the US, the city is in the midst of manic preparation to make sure all goes as planned on the big day.

Mobile operators are no exception. The national players have invested tens of millions of dollars in the past months to make sure their users get reliable and powerful connections in the Minneapolis area. Moreover, the Mall of America added no less than 1,200 antennas, 50 miles of cable and several temporary WiFi access points, according to the New York Times.

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OpenSignal takes a first look at the mobile scene in Portugal

Our very first report on the mobile industry in Portugal has arrived! Though the Iberian nation has been steadily improving in access to 4G connections in the past years, LTE speeds still have some catching up to do. Compared to other European countries, national 4G speeds lag behind, averaging at 19.1 Mbps — well below the speeds we observed in Spain, Greece or Italy where users were all able to get average download speeds above 25 Mbps.

Today, we’re taking our first deep dive into how the three national operators (MEO, NOS and Vodafone) perform in our 3G and 4G tests.


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As the dust settles on unlimited plans, T-Mobile emerges as the frontrunner in OpenSignal’s metrics

OpenSignal’s newly published State of Mobile Networks: USA report might have yielded very different results if it weren’t for Verizon and AT&T’s return to the unlimited data fold last year. It’s been nearly a year since AT&T and Verizon decided to bring back their unlimited plans, and that decision produced quite the shake-up in the U.S. mobile market.

After those unlimited plans debuted in February, both AT&T and Verizon saw their 4G speeds drop steadily in our tests. Those speeds began recovering in September, but as our U.S. report shows, both operators left the door open for their competitors to make gains at their expense. T-Mobile won five of OpenSignal’s awards, including 3G, 4G and overall speed; 4G availability; and 3G latency. The only award it didn’t win was 4G latency, which went to AT&T. T-Mobile’s 4G speed win was particularly noteworthy. It took this key award for the second report in a row, showing T-Mobile has taken advantage of Verizon’s unlimited setbacks to establish itself as the clear leader in this metric.

Sprint also saw its chance to make up lost ground. It was the most improved operator in our 4G availability tests, and over the last year we’ve recorded a 33% increase in its average 4G speeds. Sprint may still be in last place in our rankings for both metrics, but it’s closing the once considerable gap between itself and AT&T in both categories.

To read the full conclusions of our 4th-quarter U.S. report and see the data for yourself, be sure to check out the report page. We will provide further analysis on different aspects of our U.S. results soon, so keep an eye on this blog for updates.

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In Brazil, you will now find an LTE signal more often than not

Brazil has come a long way since it launched LTE services a few years back. In our latest report on the State of Mobile Networks we saw gradual increases in 4G speed among Brazil’s operators, but the more impressive growth was observed in 4G availability.


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AT&T, Verizon still feeling the pain of unlimited, but 4G speeds have begun recovering

It’s been nearly a year since AT&T and Verizon reintroduced their unlimited plans, inviting their customers to download, stream and surf at their whim. But those unlimited plans came with a performance price. 4G speeds for both operators began dropping steadily in OpenSignal’s tests soon after the new plans debuted in February, and in our August State of Mobile Networks report we found that Verizon’s average LTE download had fallen 2 Mbps in six months, while AT&T’s average was down by a megabit.

A half year later, there’s both good news and bad news for AT&T and Verizon. The good news is Ma Bell and Big Red seem to have stanched the bleeding created by unlimited plans. After six straight months of tracking decreases in LTE speeds, in September speeds for both operators leveled out in our measurements, and in Verizon’s case, speeds started creeping back upward. The bad news is in November, both AT&T and Verizon were still well short of their 4G speed highs established in February. Meanwhile, Sprint and T-Mobile speeds have steadily increased over the same 11-month period. T-Mobile was nearly 3 Mbps ahead of Verizon in our 4G speed metric in November, locking down its lead in the LTE speed race, while Sprint had closed much of the speed gap between itself and AT&T.

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The evolution of ….. snow

From the Mobile Team

Here in London, we don’t often get snow. This time of the year, it’s usually, rain, rain, cold, more rain, and on occasion, the classic ‘London fog’. So we really get excited when instead of getting soaked and miserable we are graced with picture-perfect flurries. What’s the logical next step? Well, it’s Cosmo Monster’s first winter, and we wanted to share this excitement with users of Meteor (of course!), so we added a little surprise in the latest Meteor update. Look out for it in the Play Store in the next few days, but in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek and a bit of the ‘evolution’.

Last year, we added some snow and festive cheer in our OpenSignal app, so the first step for Meteor was trying out the existing implementation, which used an open-source library. However, the advanced animations in Meteor clashed with the animation of the snow, creating lag and generally poor performance. After 30 seconds of debating, we decided to write snow ourselves! The first attempt at snow had same size snowflakes falling down in straight lines, with the same speed.


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Which US cities lean on Wifi the most?

When we talk about smartphone connectivity, we tend to focus on the big name cellular technologies like LTE and future 5G technologies. We often tend to forget that one of the most important mobile technologies out there isn’t actually a mobile technology at all: Wifi. Despite all the progress the worldwide mobile industry has made in boosting mobile broadband speeds and reach, we still rely heavily on Wifi for a good deal of our data consumption. In some countries, consumers smartphones spend as much as 65% connected to a Wifi signal.

The U.S. is a bit more modest in its Wifi use, but the typical U.S. smartphone user is still connected to some Wifi network or another a little less than 50% of the time. It’s easy to see how. Our phones automatically log on to our home and work networks. When we go to the coffee shop, airport or mall, we often check to see if a free Wifi connection is available. There is also a growing number of operators like Comcast’s Xfinity Mobile and Google’s Project Fi that have adopted “Wifi-first” models, connecting their customers automatically to large networks of hotspots.

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While LTE reach is on the rise, Argentina continues to struggle with poor 4G speeds

A relative latecomer in adopting LTE technology, Argentina has made steady progress in increasing access to 4G services in the past years.  But when it came to average 4G download speeds, the country is still below the global average and among the slowest in Latin America. We recently highlighted this trend in our analysis on the state of LTE in Latin America, where we found Argentina increase its LTE reach by 8 percentage points within a year, however overall average download speeds barely stood above 10 Mbps.

Today, in our State of Mobile Network report, we’re zooming in on Argentina’s operator-level performance, seeing how the three national mobile operators — América Móvil’s Claro, Telefónica’s Movistar and Telecom Argentina’s Personal — stack up in 3G and 4G download speeds, latency and LTE availability across the country.

Photo by Julián Gentilezza on Unsplash

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India’s 4G usage exploded in 2017 – what can we expect in 2018?

2017 was the year 4G exploded in India. One of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world, India’s current mobile data subscriber penetration stands at 40%, expected to double to 80% by 2022 according to Crisil’s predictions. But while lower generation wireless technologies are still occupying a fair share of the mobile data space, LTE services have taken the leading role in the unprecedented increase of data users in the past year, in large part thanks to a single operator, which I’ll address more in a moment.

The emergence of 4G brought with it free voice calls and low-cost data plans leading to a big boost in data usage. As more consumers received access to 4G connections, a new wealth of applications requiring fast speeds opened up to them, further driving up data consumption.

During the quarter ending June 2017, total data usage stood at over 4.2 million terabytes, out of which 4G data accounted for 3.9 million TBs, according to TRAI. The growth is most visible when checking the numbers from a year ago, when 4G data usage stood at a mere 8,050 TBs; that’s a 500-fold increase.

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