Kwicr study: U.S. LTE speeds in the middle of the pack

The United States may be among the leaders in terms of LTE network coverage and subscribers but in terms of mean throughput, the country is squarely in the middle of the pack, at least according to a new report from Kwicr (a 2015 Fierce 15 winner).  

The report notes that, in Kwicr's view, application performance is based on more than just throughput and includes other factors such as packet loss, the app and device type and how content is routed through Content Delivery Networks. Kwicr analyzed traffic from millions of users in 150 countries over a three-month period this spring to compile data on mobile broadband performance.

According to the report, the U.S. had an average cellular network throughout of 1.97 Mbps, better than India and Hong Kong (both 1.94 Mbps) and Brazil (1.14 Mbps), but weaker than Germany (2.04 Mbps), Russia (2.10 Mbps), South Korea (2.11 Mbps), France (3.05 Mbps) and Singapore (3.55 Mbps).

What's behind the weak showing for the U.S. market? Kwicr attributes it to several factors. One is the fact that U.S. carriers need to deploy their networks over much larger geographical areas and each carrier's network has tens of millions of customers, putting much more stress on nationwide networks than in countries with smaller populations.

"The U.S. is a lesson for countries," Hugh Kelly, Kwicr's vice president of marketing and strategy, told Re/code. "When you build it, they will come and start using it."

The U.S. is also middling when it comes to packet loss, which Kwicr notes can "result from a number of factors, including but not limited to environmental conditions, interference from other wireless devices, and network congestion." Singapore, South Korea and Hong performed the best in terms of packet loss. In the U.S., both Wi-Fi and cellular networks were dropping packets at a roughly similar rate, compared to India, which reported Wi-Fi packet loss that was 2.5 times its cellular packet loss rate.

"That speaks to a well-developed but heavily utilized infrastructure," Kelly told Re/code.

Kwicr has a clear economic interest in this kind of research. The company's technology speeds up app delivery by complementing existing CDNs and cloud-based infrastructure, and the company's "mobile delivery networks" accelerate app traffic from the point where the content is served all the way to the mobile device. On average, Kwicr claims to deliver app data 30 percent faster than with a CDN alone, but when networks are facing severe congestion, the company claims to accelerate delivery by up to 180 percent with one-tenth the number of stalls. 

Kwicr measured network performance bidirectionally between an app running on an iOS or Android mobile device and the mobile backend associated with the app. Kwicr said that in the study, it measured more than 200,000 app sessions across 10 instrumented, publicly available commercial apps on a variety of mobile broadband networks including Wi-Fi, 2G (CDMA 1xRTT, GPRS EDGE), 3G (CDMA EVDO rev 0/A/B, EHRPD, HSPA) and 4G (LTE and LTE Advanced). The measurements took place from April 1, 2015, through June 30, 2015.

For more:
- see this Kwicr report download link
- see this Re/code article
- see this Android Headlines article

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