OpenSignal has published its second The State of LTE report, looking at aspects such as speed and coverage of 4G on a country-by-country basis.

The London-based company gathers a lot of useful data from its giant, crowdsourced sensor network, enabled through millions of people downloading its app to their smartphones. Indeed, it offers one of the biggest resources for independent data on the speed and network coverage of mobile networks, tracking coverage across the board, while presenting this data back to its users through its mobile apps.

Using data gathered from six million of its LTE users over a three-month period (November to January), OpenSignal found that Spain has the fastest average LTE with 18Mbps, and fastest overall network with Vodafone ES (25.5Mbps) — though its coverage wasn’t great. Speaking of coverage, LG U+ in South Korea offered the most extensive LTE with 99 percent coverage across the nation, while South Korea also boasted the most LTE “time on,” with 95 percent.

‘Coverage’ defined

It’s worth noting here that “time on” is OpenSignal’s own metric for recording LTE coverage, and considers the proportion of time a user has access to the 4G network rather than geographic spread. “Coverage is most important where users actually spend their time,” says the report.

In its first such report last year, the company found that the U.S. had the second-slowest 4G mobile Internet speeds, while Australia generally had the fastest (24.5Mbps). Brazil, however, had the overall fastest network, with Claro Brazil serving up speeds of 27.8Mbps, but the country performed poorly overall in terms of “time on.” As with this year, South Korea laid claim to the best LTE coverage in the 2014 report, with 91 percent.

The overarching takeaway last year was that the quality of LTE varies considerably depending on where you are in the world. In its 2015 report, not much has changed. The report says:

We found that not all LTE networks are created equal, with big differences between countries and networks.

But it’s difficult to compare last year’s speed numbers with 2015, because the company has changed its methodology for measuring it. However, its “time on” methodology remains largely the same.

As with last year, the U.S. didn’t perform well on the LTE front in 2015 in terms of speeds, with Cricket USA offering the slowest of all eligible networks around the world. However, the States was only fourth slowest overall, up from second slowest last year.


Above: LTE Speeds

It’s worth noting here that OpenSignal excludes certain networks that have too little sample sizes. “We have only included networks in this report where we feel that our data accurately represents the user experience,” the report said. The best performing U.S. network was T-Mobile, which managed 10Mbps and 76 percent time on.

In terms of coverage “time on,” the U.S. didn’t perform too badly on a global perspective, as with last year, coming in a respectable sixth overall.

LTE Time On

Above: LTE Time On

You can dive in and read the report in full for yourself [PDF]. It makes for an interesting read on the current state of play with 4G LTE around the globe.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.