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The mobile video experience in Mexico is good one - as long as you have a 4G connection

Imagine this: You're watching the final game of the Apertura between Chivas and Club América on your smartphone, and just as América's star striker receives the ball in front of goal -- with no one but the goalkeeper in between -- the video suddenly stops. After a few seconds, the video resumes play, but all you see is a bunch of players celebrating the goal you never saw. A lot of mobile users in Mexico probably don't have to imagine this kind of situation as it's already happened to them when watching a sporting event, streaming a TV show or surfing YouTube. Luckily, though, those situations are becoming rarer in Mexico.

As more and more Mexican consumers get access to faster 4G connections, they're getting much higher quality video streams, according to OpenSignal data. We found that the mobile video experience on Mexico's three major service providers was quite good if users were connected to 4G networks.

For this analysis, we availed ourselves of a new OpenSignal developmental metric called mobile video experience, which uses real-world tests to measure the loading time of video, the proportion of time a video stream stops during playback and overall image quality. Using methodologies vetted by the telecom industry, we aggregated those measurements to calculate a video experience score from 0 to 100, with 100 being a theoretical limit indicating a perfect video session, and 0 indicating an unwatchable streaming session. (For more information on how we test video experience check out our detailed metric description.)

Now, onto the Mexico data. As you can see from the 4G results we ran between December and January, all three of Mexico's operators had scores above 70, which indicates a very good mobile video experience. This means that in our tests the video streams started after only a small amount of delay and typically played at 720p resolution without interruptions. Though all three operators performed well in these tests, two did hold a slight edge. Movistar and Telcel were actually statistically tied in our metric: both had video experience ratings of 73, and both were two points ahead of AT&T. The fact, though, that Movistar and Telcel are so closely aligned in video experience is quite interesting because historically AT&T and Telcel have outperformed Movistar in nearly every single one of our national metrics.

In our State of Mobile Networks report for Mexico, published today, Telcel and AT&T far outpaced Movistar in both average 4G speed and 4G availability in the Jan. 2017 through Feb. 2018 test period. While having a highly accessible and extremely fast LTE network might be a good indicator of a quality 4G experience, it doesn't necessarily translate into the best mobile video experience. What's needed for a good video experience are consistent speeds and resilient connections. Another possible factor in determining video quality is network latency -- a quicker connection response time means video will often begin playing sooner, which is one of the three factors that goes into determining our video experience metric. It just so happens that Movistar historically has done relatively well in 4G latency. In our current Mexico report, Movistar placed second to Telcel in 4G latency with a response of 55.2 milliseconds. The bottom line is whatever limitations Movistar customers may face in LTE speed or availability, it isn't having an impact on their ability to stream video at a comparable level to either of its two rivals.

The differences between the three operators' scores, though, is small. As long as our testers were able to latch onto a 4G connection on any of the operator's networks, they were rewarded with a strong video streaming experience. Fortunately for Mexico, 4G access is becoming far more prevalent. In our recent State of LTE network report, we found that Mexico's 4G users could connect 77% of the time, and that number is quickly growing.

If you're a mobile consumer in Mexico, we'd love to hear about your own personal experience streaming video on AT&T, Movistar and Telcel. Let us know in the comments below.