LTE network speeds, according to the latest OpenSignal report

24 Feb

The United States trails 13 countries when it comes to LTE network speeds, according to the latest OpenSignal report. The report found that average LTE network speeds in this country have declined 32% this year. Australia posted the fastest LTE speeds, with an average download speed of 24.5 megabits per second. Other countries with faster LTE speeds than the 6.5 Mbps posted by the United States were (in order) Italy, Brazil, Hong Kong, Denmark, Canada, Sweden, South Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia and Japan.

The United States suffered the biggest decline in network speeds of any country, as operators struggled to keep pace with increasing data downloads. Last year the U.S. ranked 8th in the OpenSignal study, with an average LTE network download speed of 9.6 Mbps.

Many of the nations with faster speeds than the United States do not have as much LTE coverage. Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility, which together have roughly 200 million subscribers, are both nearing completion of their LTE roll outs with more than 300 million potential customers covered. Sprint and T-Mobile US both have substantial footprints as well, having recently surpassed 200 million pops covered. “The [United States] performs well on our coverage metric, with the average user experiencing LTE coverage 67% of the time, with Australia, the fastest country, on 58%,” OpenSignal said in a press release.

When it comes to domestic network speeds, T-Mobile US had the best performance among the carriers. The carrier posted average download speeds of 11.21 Mbps, with AT&T Mobility No. 2 at 8.9 Mbps. Verizon Wireless clocked in at 7.8 Mbps and Sprint’s average download speed was 4.2 Mbps. Sprint currently has the least amount of spectrum dedicated to its network at just 10 megahertz in most markets, while the others provide at least double that amount.

The State of LTE

Network operators around the world are working hard to convince their users to make the jump to LTE. The term “4G” acts as a convenient label for marketers to emphasise the superiority of this new standard over its predecessors, but just how standard or consistent is the experience of users on LTE?

The OpenSignal app allows users to contribute to our impartial coverage maps of mobile networks, we took data from those of our 6 million users who have LTE and focussed on their experience of two key metrics: download speed, and the proportion of time spent with LTE access. All data included in this report comes from the second half of 2013.

We found that not all LTE networks are created equal, indeed there is an extremely broad range of experience across both metrics. Only about a quarter of networks surveyed achieve both good coverage and fast speeds; clearly there remains much work before LTE lives up to its full potential.

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