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Europe shone in our mobile video experience analysis – but the winner wasn't who you'd expect

Last month, OpenSignal published its inaugural State of Mobile Video report, which analyzed how consumers experienced video over mobile networks in 69 countries around the world. And the headline news is: a European country came top of our analysis. But it wasn't one you would expect. As part of a series of blog posts looking at specific regions we cover, we're now taking an in-depth look at the mobile video experience in Europe, and how the countries fared against each other.

Our first-of-its-kind video experience analysis ranked countries on a scale of 0-100, taking into account video load time, stalling rates during video playback and picture quality. In our global analysis, nine European countries achieved scores in the Very Good (65-75) range (out of a global total of just 11), including our overall leader, the Czech Republic. Also representing Europe in the Very Good category were Hungary, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Slovakia, while most of the other European countries were in the Good category. In general, European countries tended to rank higher than their counterparts in the Americas, while Asian and Middle Eastern countries were scattered throughout the rankings (for more details on video experience see this blog post).

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Czech Republic's victory is that the country didn't even make our top 10 when it came to overall download speed. This reflects a wider phenomenon we have observed that high speeds don't necessarily equal a good video experience, especially at the top end of the table. Indeed, our top country in overall download speed, South Korea, was over 5 Mbps ahead of its closest rival, but only managed a placing of 16th in our overall video experience analysis. In Europe, six countries – Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark – featured in both top tens, but that was about as far as the correlation went.

What was also surprising was the relatively poor showing of some of Europe's economic giants including Germany, the U.K. and France (which was one of just two European countries in the Fair range). All three of these countries were firmly in the bottom half of our European table for video experience, below arguably less-developed markets such as Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia. This reflects a wider phenomenon we have observed in larger European markets where our analysis shows 4G speeds and availability are stagnating and even dropping in some instances. This is potentially a result of a number of factors, including high data demand from unlimited plans, limited access to fresh spectrum and aging network infrastructure, and stymied investment following high levels of competition and falling ARPU.

Nonetheless, Europe put in a particularly impressive performance in our video experience analysis, beating the East Asian mobile powerhouses at their own game. But none of the countries we analyzed made it into the Excellent range, meaning the mobile industry still has work to do when it comes to a great user video experience. We've seen that countries with extremely powerful LTE networks in terms of speed and availability aren't necessarily providing the best video experience, and if Europe's operators want to break into the Excellent category, then building out faster and faster LTE-Advanced networks isn't necessarily the answer.

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

And stay tuned for more in-depth analysis on video experience coming soon.