Where to vacation in Mexico for a good 4G experience

Summer may be nearly over, which means Mexico's biggest national holiday is less than a month away. On Sept. 16, millions of Mexicans will celebrate their country's independence with festivals and parades while many of them take advantage of the two-day national break to vacation in other cities across the country. As people make their Independence Day plans, we thought it would be interesting to look at the type of 4G experience consumers can expect in some of Mexico's most popular tourism cities.

For this analysis, OpenSignal examined data in 17 large cities that are popular tourist destinations in Mexico — from Cancún at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula in the east to the border city of Mexicali in the Northwest. We looked at average 4G download and upload speeds and the level of 4G access in each of those places over a 90-day period between May and July to see how some of Mexico's most popular vacation spots stacked up.

There must be something about the Chihuahuan desert air that inexplicably makes it the ideal medium for powerful LTE connections. The city of Chihuahua had the fastest 4G download speeds in our list. With an average downlink connection of 27.8 Mbps, Chihuahua was more than 4 Mbps faster than the 2nd-and 3rd-ranked cities Monterrey and Guadalajara. Also, anyone sharing on social media their visits to the Quinta Gameros or Chihuahua's other historical buildings won't have any trouble establishing a good video stream. Chihuahua had the fastest 4G upload speed in our list as well, averaging connections of 13.4 Mbps.

Of the 17 tourist destinations we examined, 12 of them averaged download speeds faster than 20 Mbps. Mexico City wasn't one of them though. It just missed the cut with an LTE download score of 19.9 Mbps. Though the capital's speeds are by no means slow, they definitely seem to be trailing other large cities, which might seem odd considering the level of 4G investment in the country's economic and political center. But while Mexico City likely has powerful LTE networks, it also has a huge number of 4G users all vying for capacity on those networks, which could cause average speeds to slow down.

In our 4G availability metric, Mexicali emerged as the city in our list where our users had the most access to LTE services. A popular day-trip destination due to its location just over the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexicali had a 4G availability of 86.5%. Querétaro and its UNESCO World Heritage Site colonial center came a close second with an LTE availability of 85.9%. And as we saw with 4G speed, the deserts of Northern Mexico seem to have some magical effect on 4G services: Hermosillo and Chihuahua rounded out our top four.

Mexico City landed at the bottom of our list of tourism cities for LTE reach, just below beach-resort meccas Cancún and Acapulco – but that shouldn't be seen as an indictment of any of them. All 17 cities we analyzed had 4G availability scores above 80%, indicative of excellent LTE reach in metro areas nationwide.

If you're a mobile consumer in Mexico, do you have any plans for the Independence Day holiday? Will the quality of your mobile connection impact those plans? Let us know in the comments section below.