OpenSignal Insights

What’s in store for mobile in 2019? OpenSignal’s predictions for the coming year

It’s been a pretty busy year here at OpenSignal. And 2018 was an interesting time in the mobile world overall, with data abuse and increased regulation casting something of a shadow over some of the top tech launches of the year. But what can we expect in 2019? We’ve cast a look into our crystal ball to bring you our top predictions for mobile in the coming year.

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OpenSignal’s 12 days of Christmas — a review of 2018!

Xmas Happy Holidays 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, we’ve taken a bit of time to pause and reflect on what’s been a pretty crazy year here at OpenSignal. In March we were named to the TechCity Future Fifty list of the fastest growing UK headquartered tech businesses, and we’ve been expanding and growing the team — so much so that we’ve recently had to build some new meeting rooms in our London office!

But what’ve been our favourite articles and reports of the year? Get settled in a comfy chair, pop the kettle on and pull up a mince pie — for OpenSignal’s 12 days of Christmas!

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Voila! The fastest city in Canada for mobile speeds is Montreal

The fastest mobile data speeds in Canada have a particularly francophone flair. Montreal topped both our download and upload charts in OpenSignal’s analysis of fastest cities for overall speed in Canada.

OpenSignal’s overall speed metrics measure the average download and upload speeds users see across 3G and 4G networks, taking into account how often users are connected to each technology. They provide an excellent indication of the typical speeds users experience every day. Though overall speeds are usual much slower than the speeds customers would see over unfettered 4G connections, Canadian city-dwellers have little to worry about. We found that both overall download and upload speeds were superb in the country’s 12 largest metro areas. Overall download speeds averaged well above 30 Mbps in all 12, while upload averages in each city topped 7 Mbps.

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New Jersey offers the best video experience in the lower 48 US states

A few weeks ago, we examined how the lower-48 states in the U.S. stacked up in terms of overall speed, and we discovered an interesting pattern: The states with fastest download speeds were largely concentrated on the Eastern Seaboard along the Boston-to-D.C. corridor. Today we’re taking another look at our state map, but this time we’re examining the video experience offered in each state. And again, we find a similar pattern. Four of the five states with the highest video experience scores were all in the same region. The fifth? Well, the residents of North Dakota have some of the best mobile video quality in the country.

USA-Overall-Video-Jul1-2018 - Aug-29-2018-01

OpenSignal’s Video Experience metric is a first-of-its-kind analysis tool, which uses a range of factors including loading time, video stalling rates and picture resolution, to determine the overall quality of mobile video offered by operators. Video Experience is calculated as a score from 0 to 100 — the higher the score the better the experience. In a recent global analysis of 69 countries, we found that the U.S. landed close to the bottom of our list with an overall video experience score of 46.8, putting it in the Fair range (40-55) of our scale. But that doesn’t mean that mobile video quality was uniform throughout the country or over all providers. When we looked at U.S. operators, we found that Verizon and T-Mobile both significantly outscored AT&T and Sprint in our video experience analysis. And as you can see from the map above, overall video experience differs from region to region.

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Singapore’s secret mobile broadband weapon: Latency

When it comes to download and upload speeds, few countries can match the raw power of Singapore’s LTE networks. But Singapore doesn’t just shine in connection throughput. It’s also a global leader in latency, which is effectively the response time of a network. The lower latency is on a network, the better experience you’ll receive on a host of mobile applications and services, from web browsing to voice over IP to real-time multiplayer gaming.

Every time you click a link, press play on a video, or feint left in a server-hosted action game, your phone generates a data request, which must traverse the network, querying a server for content. The time it takes for that request to reach its destination and the data to be returned is the latency of the network. A similar principle applies to communications services like VoIP and video chat. The less delay the network introduces into the chat stream the more your session will behave like a real-time conversation, rather than two people talking over one another.

So what is a good latency? The lower the latency score, the better. Anything below 50 milliseconds is adequate for most applications we use on the mobile phones, but a latency of 30ms or less is exceptional. Very few of the 4G networks OpenSignal tracks are able to register sub-30ms latencies in our measurements, but according to our last State of Mobile Networks report, Singapore had two of them: M1 and Singtel. And their scores become even more impressive when we step back and look at overall latency. Users don’t always have access to an LTE connection, and as they go throughout the course of their days, they often find themselves falling back on 3G networks, which tend to have have much slower latencies than 4G networks. So the true test of an operator’s network response time is its ability to maintain a consistently low latency across its 3G and 4G data networks.

Screenshot 2018-12-12 at 10.21.30

 

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Multiple operators across the globe hit simultaneously by Ericsson network outage

OpenSignal has identified that December 6th’s mobile network outage hit multiple operators at the same time across the globe.

Analyzing availability data for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile technologies across hundreds of networks, we found three operators where smartphone users experienced a significant and sudden drop in LTE availability: Mobifone in Vietnam; SoftBank in Japan; and O2 in the UK.

Smartphone users on O2 UK’s network suffered the worst hit with 4G/LTE services taking almost a full day to return to normal. By comparison, Softbank and Mobifone were able to restore normal service within six and seven hours respectively.

networkOutage_20181206_v2

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Maxis leads in Malaysia peak download speeds — but Celcom is close behind

Not all LTE networks are created equal, and few countries exemplify that maxim more than Malaysia. In OpenSignal’s analysis of peak download speeds in Malaysia, we found that there were vastly different capabilities across the six major operators’ networks. The fastest 4G peak speeds we measured were well over 70 Mbps, while the slowest were under 25 Mbps.

Malaysia peak speed

First let’s discuss what we mean by peak speed. Our peak download speed metric takes the average of the fastest 2% of all connections our users find. The score represents the most optimized connections on an operator’s network — speeds unfettered by network congestion, service restriction or technical limitations. Though a subscriber might occasionally find themselves with a connection akin to their operator’s peak speed, the occurrence is likely rare. What peak speed gives us, though, is an indication of true technical capabilities of the network itself.

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Movistar and Vodafone tied in our Spain 4G peak speed analysis

When it comes to mobile network speeds in Spain, it was something of a two-horse race in our last State of Mobile Networks report. Movistar won our 3G download speed award, Vodafone took both overall speed and 4G upload — but the two drew for our coveted 4G download speed prize. So we drilled down a bit deeper into our 4G download data by looking at their peak speeds, where we discovered another tie between these fierce Iberian rivals.

What do we mean by peak speed? Our peak speed metric is a measure of the fastest speeds OpenSignal’s users experience on Spain’s networks. By examining only the fastest tests we record, we minimize the impact of technical or congestion limitations, and are thus able to provide an estimate of the optimal speeds our users in Spain experience in real-world conditions. Peak speed is different to the theoretical maximum speeds that some operators publish — the “up to 600 Mbps”-type claims — and that users themselves will never realistically be able to access. For more on OpenSignal’s metrics, click here.

Spain peak download

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Vodafone Idea set to bring a new upload speed powerhouse to India mobile

Vodafone and Idea are in the final stages of merging their Indian operations, potentially creating an upload speed powerhouse in the market. Idea recently won OpenSignal’s Upload Experience award in our India Mobile Network Experience Report, with a score nearly 25% faster than its closest rival’s. The operator also topped our 4G upload speed table, with a 30% faster score — and a look at 4G upload speeds across India’s four main national operators over the past 10 months of 2018 shows Idea has led in this category for some time. But the other key trend to note is the second-place operator for 4G upload speed in India: Vodafone.

What’s the importance of mobile upload speed? This metric is often overlooked in favor of headline-grabbing download speed, but upload is becoming increasingly important as consumer mobile habits shift. Smartphone users are moving away from downloading and consuming to uploading and creating content, meaning upload speeds are becoming more and more important to the mobile experience.

Upload speeds are typically slower than download, as current mobile broadband technologies tend to be focused on providing the best possible downstream rates for users consuming content. And in India, our analysis shows 4G upload speeds for all four operators have dropped since the start of 2018, most likely as a result of increased network congestion as data demands grow. But the combined network power of Vodafone Idea should help the merged operator overcome these challenges — allowing it to not only improve upload speeds, but also mount a serious challenge in our other mobile experience metrics.

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Claro corrals two awards in OpenSignal’s Argentina report

The gaucho is an Argentine icon. Brave, skillful and cunning, these Latin cowboys have ruled the plains of South America for centuries. And in the mobile world, we’ve seen one operator show enough horse sense to lasso two of our mobile network experience awards. Claro’s growth has been the highlight of our analysis in our latest State of Mobile Networks: Argentina report, as the operator has come from a fairly distant third place to win two awards, while it showed the greatest improvements of all operators across most of our other categories.

Claro managed to gallop ahead in the close-run race for 3G download speed, with a gain of over 13% to win our award following a tie with Personal six months ago. Claro also rounded up our 4G upload speed award with a score of 6.2 Mbps, following a fall in previous winner Personal’s score of nearly 14% to 5.5 Mbps.. But Argentina’s other mobile wranglers Personal and Movistar have also made gains, notably in 4G availability where all three operators have now passed the 75% post.

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