UK wireless network information service OpenSignal has published a report on 4G LTE speeds in countries where the technology has been widely adopted.
“LTE speeds are not globally uniform,” says the report. “It is important to remember that the actual speeds experienced by users on LTE can be markedly different, not simply between countries but also across carriers. It is interesting to note that the countries where we record the fastest average speeds tend to be ones where the population is heavily concentrated in a small number of urban centres. Countries with a population that is more evenly spread seem to perform slightly worse, perhaps due to the difficulty of rolling-out LTE over a larger geographic area.”
The graph compares countries with mature, widespread LTE networks. The speeds measured are based on real world user signal readings. OpenSignal’s methodology measures how the network is experienced and therefore is considerably affected by device variance.
“We're not measuring the technical maximum capability of the LTE networks, but showing how they actually perform for the people that use them. This goes some way towards explaining why Metro PCS registers such slow LTE speeds, its users are generally on lower spec devices.
OpenSignal also published a chart tracing the history of LTE development worldwide. Sweden and Norway were the earliest adopters, followed by technology powerhouse Uzbekistan. The US first introduced LTE at the end of 2010, along with Japan and Germany. Australia and Brazil inroduced LTE in 2011, and the UK and India in 2012.
“LTE represents a significant step forward in telecommunications technology,” says the report. “Its dramatic improvement in speed and latency from 3G shows that it has the potential to be as transformative an advance as the evolution from 2G to 3G. This is especially true in countries that do not have established fixed line internet infrastructure, meaning that broadband internet can be made widely available through cellular connections.
“LTE will be present in a projected 83 countries within the next two years, which will drive the production of lower-end LTE-compatible smartphones. The arrival of cheap handsets that are able to make use of LTE which will help expedite mass adoption, leading to the potential for dramatically increased broadband penetration in developing countries.”
OpenSignal crowdsources its data on coverage and network speeds from users of its Android smart-phone app. The data is stripped of any identifying information, and uploaded to OpenSignal’s servers.
“We make this information openly available on this website, and provide a graphical interface to enable you to make sense of the raw data. By sourcing this information independently we are able to publish impartial maps of cell coverage which don't rely on statistics provided by the networks themselves.”
The maps are freely available on its website (http://opensignal.com) and give a true perspective on how users really experience their cellular networks. “With your help, we're creating a comprehensive database of cell phone towers, cell phone signal strength readings, and Wi-Fi access points around the world. Our goal is to become the global authority on wireless networks.”