For those out there plotting a vacation, or who may have enjoyed one this summer, it's probably a safe bet that mobile speeds and network coverage didn't factor into choice of destination. However, for those for whom being in touch at high speed is a priority when choosing a vacation destination a new study from OpenSignal can inform your choices.
The study considers not just 4G LTE (News - Alert), but also 3G speeds and coverage to produce a wide overall picture of who has what and how fast. Using crowd sourced information from its application, OpenSignal sampled a pool of 822,556 users worldwide using OpenSignal software, and discovered how much time is spent on Wi-Fi along with speeds of network.
As depicted below, what the study revealed may not come as too big a shock. The fastest mobile on Earth—as measured by speeds typically achieved instead of theoretical maximums—is South Korea at a whopping 41 Mbps. This is followed, barely, by Singapore who turned in 31 Mbps, and Hungary not too far after at 26 Mbps. Australia nearly took the third place slot itself at 25 Mbps, and rounding out the top five was Denmark.
Source (News - Alert): OpenSignal
Interestingly, major world powers didn't even crack the top 10. The United States averages around 12.3 Mbps, while the UK comes in at about 13.7 Mbps. Vaunted mobile powerhouse China comes in at around 18 Mbps, and none of these are even enough to beat number 10 ranked Sweden. Japan actually boasts the ninth fastest speeds. Naturally, countries with less-developed infrastructures come in at the lower end of these types of studies.
Mobile networks are more than just speed, though. The best performers in this study can provide at least 3G data connection to the populace at least 90 percent of the time. While the United States is slow overall, it does match that metric, offering a 3G / 4G connection to roughly 91 percent of its population. Conversely, China's impressive speed gains come at a price; much worse coverage rates. China has seemingly focused its entire mobile development in a handful of areas.
This study makes it abundantly clear that, except for a handful of places, development needs to continue and in a big way. While we've long had issues of rural connectivity pop up worldwide, in some places it's much worse than others. These days, an Internet connection of decent speed is merely table stakes to engage in just about any activity from finding a job to playing video games. Going without this connection is nearly as disastrous as going with electricity or running water.
If nothing else the OpenSignal statistics should serve as an important input to not just mobile service providers but also their regulators as to how operators and countries stack up in a world that is going “mobile first” and where the need for speed is a real differentiator.
Edited by Peter Bernstein