The quality of a country's mobile network is often decided by a recipe that's two parts economics, and one part geography. While small, developed nations like South Korea and Hong Kong can easily provide complete coverage and fast speeds to their dense populations, larger, poorer countries often struggle to deliver full bars to all of their territory. Countries that are big and rich, like America, tend to get networks that are somewhere in the middle — good on coverage, for example, but not so great on speed, as a report into LTE in the US by OpenSignal showed earlier this week. Now, the network-testing company has released its worldwide report for Q4 2015, allowing us to see how America stacks up with the rest of the globe.
The US has fallen behind the rest of the world on LTE speeds
Unfortunately, not much has changed since we last checked in on LTE. The US is still slipping behind the rest of the world when it comes to download speeds, with an average of 10 Mbps — ranking it 55th worldwide. It does much better when it comes to coverage (subscribers get an LTE signal 81 percent of the time — seventh best in the world), but it's still suffering from the first mover disadvantage. Like Japan and Sweden, the US got its LTE network early, but the technology is now old, and there are plenty of subscribers using it — meaning slower speeds for all. For context, the global average for download speeds on LTE is 13.5 Mbps, while Singapore offers the fastest networks, with downloads as quick as 40 Mbps. And in Q2 2015, America's average download speed was 9 Mbps.
Meanwhile, newer networks with up-to-date tech and fewer subscribers deliver faster speeds. OpenSignal notes that countries in South America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East tend to demonstrate this trend (although their coverage might not be so good). Romania, for example, offers only 61 percent coverage for its LTE network, but has speeds as fast as 33 Mbps, ranking it sixth in the global leaderboard. But although the trend globally is for rising speeds (they're up nearly a whole megabit compared to last year), countries with established networks are finding it harder to improve with limited spectrum available to them. Looks like we might have to wait for 5G to get going before we get real next-generation mobile data.
Here's a global leaderboard for LTE speeds, and for more detailed data check out OpenSignal's full report.
Global LTE speeds. (Image Credit: OpenSignal)