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Canada and Bolivia lead the Americas in our video experience analysis

OpenSignal recently published its first State of Mobile Video report, which analyzed how consumers experienced video over mobile networks in 69 countries around the world. Now we're drilling down into the specifics of various regions, starting first with the Americas. We found that compared to Europe, the Americas didn't rate as highly on our video scale. While the video experience in North and South American countries is by no means bad, there is definitely room for improvement.

Our first-of-its-kind video experience analysis calculates a score from 0 to 100 with 100 being the best video experience possible. None of the North or South American countries we examined were among the 11 elite countries with scores in the Very Good (65-75) range. In fact, only two countries in the New World, Canada and Bolivia, rated a Good score (55-65), The rest landed in the Fair (40-55) category, where the typical video experience is characterized by long loading times and frequent stalling at high resolutions, but better quality at low resolutions. (For more details on video experience see this blog post.)

Canada stood apart in our video experience analysis. Its overall video experience score of 59.9 landed it right alongside countries like Japan, the U.K. and Germany, and it was nearly 5 points higher than the next most highly rated country in the region, Bolivia. Canada also had the fastest overall download speeds in the Americas, which may have played a role in its high video experience score. But as our State of Mobile Video report clearly demonstrated, faster isn't always better when it comes to video quality.

We compared overall download speeds and overall video experience in our report and found that some countries with less-than-stellar speeds wound up performing quite well in video experience. In the Americas, Bolivia averaged mobile broadband download speeds of just 11.1 Mbps, but in video experience it beat out the U.S., Mexico and Brazil — all countries with faster average connection speeds. Even Canada was a bit of an outlier. While Canada had the best video experience score in the region, globally it didn't compare favorably against other countries with similarly high speeds. Of the 10 countries in our analysis with overall download speeds greater than 30 Mbps, Canada had the lowest video experience score.

Clearly speed isn't the primary factor determining video quality, but in countries where average connection speeds are still slow, speed has a lot more say in our video experience calculations. Peru, Ecuador and Costa Rica all averaged overall download speeds below 10 Mbps, and they all ranked in the bottom three of our Americas video chart. At these lower levels, a small bump in overall download speed is correlated with a significant increase in overall video experience. But as countries pass the 15 Mbps mark, factors like latency and connection resiliency have a bigger impact than speed on the video quality consumers see.

That brings us to the U.S., which is a bit of an anomaly in our chart. With overall download speeds of 16.5 Mbps, we would expect to find the U.S. much higher up our video experience table. However, there is one more factor that can greatly impact video experience: the service policies operators implement. This is clearly the case in the U.S. where the rise of unlimited plans over the past year was accompanied by restrictions on video resolution. Many unlimited-plan users in the U.S. struggle to stream resolutions of more than 480p video on a mobile connection, as these restrictions have an effect on video load times, stalling rates and picture quality which ultimately impact U.S. operator video experience scores. Eliminating those restrictions wouldn't necessarily boost the average video experience, though. As OpenSignal Analyst Ian Fogg pointed out in a recent RCR Wireless contributed column, there's a reason why U.S. operators manage their traffic. Unchecked video consumption can deluge a network, and it's entirely possible that unfettered HD video consumption could make the average mobile video experience in the U.S. worse.

If you want to know how some of the key operators are delivering on mobile video experience… take a look at the charts below with insights on mobile video experience from a sample set of countries.

Stay tuned for more in-depth analyses on video experience coming soon.