The land of poets is the latest stop in OpenSignal's tour of South America. Drawing on 84 million measurements conducted this summer, we put Chile's four nationwide mobile operators under the microscope and found a diverse group indeed. An upstart provider vied against a regional heavyweight for best network availability, while three different operators each took one of OpenSignal's speed awards.
Both our availability prizes were shared by Movistar and WOM. Our testers on those operators' networks were able to latch onto a 3G or better connection more than 92% of the time and an LTE signal more than 60% of the time.
América Móvil’s Claro won our 4G speed award, averaging downloads of 27.3 Mbps. Entel and Movistar also surpassed the 20 Mbps mark in our tests, but we measured WOM's LTE speeds at 11 Mbps, half that of its competitors.
While Movistar had neither the fastest 4G speeds nor the fastest 3G speeds in our tests, the Telefónica subsidiary still scored highest in OpenSignal's overall speed metric. How? Our 4G availability ranking for Movistar was higher than both Claro’s and Entel’s, meaning that our users could latch onto better-performing LTE connections more often.
All four Chilean operators provided their customers with a 3G or better connection more than 87% of the time in our tests. Chile's national average of 91.2% leads South America and compares quite favorably to other countries.
|Download Speed: 4G||Download Speed: 3G||Download Speed: Overall||Latency: 4G||Latency: 3G||Availability: 4G||Availability: 3G/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.
This metric shows the proportion of time users on each network have a 3G or 4G (LTE) connection available to them.
Chile’s first 4G network went live in 2013, but in a period of 3 years Chilean operators have managed to attain some of the fastest 4G speeds in the region. While Chilean consumers still only have access to LTE signals about half the time, they have little trouble latching onto a 3G mobile data connection. Chile scored the highest in South America in 3G-or-better signal availability.
More than 5,000 OpenSignal users collected 84 million measurements up and down the spine of South America between May and July. Compiling that data in our first ever State of Mobile Networks for Chile, we compared the 3G and 4G performance of Chile's four major operators: Entel, Telefónica's Movistar, América Móvil's Claro and up-and-comer WOM. Instead of finding one or two operators dominating our rankings, we discovered that each operator had its own unique strengths. First, let's look at the tight race over signal availability.
When it comes to providing a mobile data connection, two operators stood out from the pack: Movistar and WOM shared OpenSignal's awards for both 4G availability and 3G-or-better availability. Rather than measure geographic coverage, OpenSignal's availability metric tracks the proportion of time users can access a particular network. In the case of Movistar and WOM, our testers were able to see an LTE signal more than 60% of the time. When you throw 3G into the mix, the two operators' availability scores increased to more than 92%. (Both operators were close enough in our tests to produce statistical draws in both metrics.)
While Movistar is an established player in Chile, WOM is a fairly new face. The former Nextel Chile was a tiny operator until it found new owners and new life last year. The newly renamed WOM began a nationwide 4G rollout in November and quadrupled its subscriber base in less than a year. Now it's vying for the title of most accessible 4G network in Chile, beating out more established players Entel and Claro, both of which delivered an LTE connection less than half the time, according to our tests.
In terms of overall mobile data signal availability, all of Chile's operators excelled. Though Movistar and WOM were tied for our 3G/4G availability award, each of the four operators was able to deliver at least a 3G connection more than 87% of the time in our measurements (in WOM's case it may have been helped out by its 3G roaming agreements with its competitors). According to our recent Global State of Mobile Networks report, Chile as a whole had an average 3G/4G availability of 91%, ranking it among the top 20 countries globally and No. 1 in South America.
While best availability may have been a close race, the contest for fastest network was wide open. Each of OpenSignal's three speed awards went to a different operator. Claro won the prize for fastest 4G connections, averaging download speeds of 27.3 Mbps in our measurements, but Entel and Movistar were no 4G slouches. Both averaged more than 21 Mbps in our measurements.
Entel won our award for fastest 3G speed as OpenSignal testers averaged download speeds of 4.3 Mbps on its HSPA networks. Entel's networks also distinguished themselves through their quick response times. We measured the lowest latency scores on both Entel's 3G and 4G networks. A low-latency connection means content begins loading more quickly and real-time communications apps experience less lag time.
The prize for best overall speed, however, went to Movistar in one of the rare instances in which neither the winner of our 4G speed award nor the winner of our 3G speed award had the best combined 3G/4G connections. Movistar won out through consistency. OpenSignal users may have clocked the fastest LTE connections on Claro, but they could only latch onto those signals 38% of the time. Meanwhile our testers saw slower speeds on Movistar’s network, but they were able to access those speeds 64% of the time. It just goes to show that network availability is as important as raw speed when it comes to providing a fast overall mobile data experience.
The odd operator out in our speed rankings was WOM. While it had some of the most consistently available data networks in Chile, the connections those networks produced were routinely slower than those of its competitors, according to our data. We measured LTE speeds half as fast as the other three operators, and it came in last in all three of our speed metrics.
While WOM may very well continue to distinguish itself in LTE availability, it doesn't look like it will be catching up to its competitors in speed any time soon. In May, Chilean regulator Subtel gave the green light to Chile's three largest operators to launch LTE in the new 700 MHz frequency band. Movistar and Entel wasted no time bringing their second LTE networks online this summer, while Entel took the extra step of implementing Chile's first LTE-Advanced system. With LTE-Advanced, Chilean operators could see a sizable boost in both LTE capacity and speed, allowing them to match the high-powered 4G connections we've seen emerge in Europe and Asia.
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