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EE’s Time on 4G announcement: a huge endorsement for OpenSignal’s approach

EE’s  ‘Time on 4G’ announcement was a blast from the past and an epiphany all at once. OpenSignal has been measuring the ‘Time on 4G’ of mobile users for years and has long been calling on operators and the industry to do the same. Friday’s announcement that EE has heeded our call is a major step forward and a huge endorsement for OpenSignal’s approach. It’s one small step for EE, and one massive step for measuring what matters most — what consumers actually experience on mobile networks.

‘Time on 4G’ was one of the first metrics OpenSignal introduced. While we have since changed the name to ‘4G Availability’ the principle is the same. We measure the proportion of time users spent connected to 4G networks. This is a user-centric approach that assesses how coverage is reflected in users’ everyday experience. OpenSignal has long said that the legacy ways of talking about coverage need to be updated.

Population Coverage’ only measures whether there is coverage at your home location and ‘Geographical Coverage’ treats all areas of land equally and doesn’t reflect the importance of providing coverage in a highly populated area versus a remote location where no one actually visits. In this modern connected world, coverage is too important to get wrong, and OpenSignal continues to call on the industry to move towards measuring coverage with a user-centric approach. Indeed, the time has come for the industry to abandon drive test simulations as a proxy for measuring real user experience.

Furthermore, industry watchers absorbed by the promise of 5G may have missed the parallel trend gaining traction in the industry, which EE’s announcement perfectly illustrates. In our latest State of LTE Global Report, LTE availability saw major gains around the world and at every tier of 4G development, indicating a massive operator focus on boosting accessibility to 4G signals globally — a focus we expect will continue in 2018.

Which of OpenSignal's other bold steps will the industry follow next? Perhaps they will publish typical speed instead of best-case speed, a move embraced by the recent Ofcom and the CAP rulings? Perhaps they will abandon operator-centric performance measurements in favor of publishing more easily understandable, and relevant, experience metrics? While the industry considers its options, watch for new innovations in measuring real-world consumer mobile experience from OpenSignal in 2018.

Meantime, to our friends at EE: As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery.