Even as LTE has grown increasingly more important to global cellular coverage, users’ experience with network speeds varies widely from country to country and network to network, according to study by OpenSignal, which has developed a database of cell phone towers, cell phone signal strength readings, and Wi-Fi access points around the world, based on data collected by 11 million users of its Android and iPhone apps.
“This year’s State of LTE report illustrates that there is a high degree of variation between LTE networks worldwide, both in terms of speed and coverage. While 4G LTE is considerably faster than 3G, it still lags someway behind the speeds promised in the initial excited burst of advertising – with no nation averaging speeds faster than 18 Mbps,” Samuel Johnston, brand strategist, wrote in a blog.
Spain boasts the fastest download speeds worldwide with 18 Mbps and Vodafone ES sported the fastest network globally with speeds of 25.2 Mbps, followed by Norway’s NetCom with an average of 23.6 Mbps. South Korea ranked highest in terms of coverage with 95 percent, and it had the top three carriers: LG U+, 99 percent; Olleh, 94 percent; and SKTelecom, 93 percent.
In terms of speed, the United States was third from last of the 29 countries studied, with an average of 7 mbps, while it ranked sixth in terms of coverage. T-Mobile performed the best for speed, averaging 10 Mbps and Verizon performed the best for coverage – with their users having access to LTE networks 86 percent of the time.
“What are the implications for this? A lot. First, more wireless spend is needed and more spectrum is also needed to achieve the speeds originally planned on,” wrote Jennifer Fritzsche, Wells Fargo senior analyst. “The most interesting finding is that TMUS performed the best in terms of speed while (not surprisingly) VZ performed best in terms of coverage. So does speed or coverage matter more? That is the million dollar question it seems!”
The study covered 824,297 cell towers, 825 cellular networks, 5,186,324,530 signal readings and 1,230,834,497 Wi-Fi points.
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