OpenSignal report finds ‘sizeable’ differences in 3G and 4G speeds globally

Cellular antennas on tower

A new report from OpenSignal found that while 3G or 4G connections may be the norm across the world, there are some sizeable gaps between countries in terms of the download speeds available.

The report, titled Global State of Networks, said that South Korea had the fastest overall speed of 41.3 Mbps, while the slowest average measured was 2.2 Mbps in Afghanistan.

OpenSignal measured 3G and 4G network speeds in 95 countries in total. While it found that 4G is a big factor especially in the most developed nations, 3G is still an important component of most countries' mobile data infrastructure. It added that Wi-Fi also still has a major influence on the way the majority of the world uses smartphones.

The good news, said OpenSignal, is that its results show that a decent mobile data connection isn't hard to find in a majority of the world's countries.

“Of the 95 countries on our list, all but two had 3G-or-better signal availability more than half the time in our measurements. In fact, the vast majority of those countries scored an availability metric of 75 per cent or greater, while 23 countries were able to provide a 3G or better signal more than 90 per cent of the time,” OpenSignal said.

However, the company also noted that a 3G or 4G signal can mean different things when it comes to the typical data experience.

“There’s a huge variation in speeds between the slowest 3G network and the fastest 4G network. CDMA EV-DO connections, for instance, typically average download speeds under 1 Mbps, while high-powered LTE-Advanced connections can push speed well beyond 30 Mbps,” OpenSignal commented.

When it comes to Wi-Fi, OpenSignal said it could be argued that in many places Wi-Fi has become a far more important mobile data technology than 3G or 4G.

“In the Netherlands, close to three quarters of the total connections we measured were over Wi-Fi networks, and in 46 countries (almost half of our sample) our smartphone users spent more than 50 per cent of their time connected to Wi-Fi,” it said.

Certainly, as cellular networks continue to evolve, and 5G networks emerge, it will be interesting to see whether Wi-Fi maintains its current “outsized influence”.

For more:
- see the OpenSignal report

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