Canada's Bell and Telus have the edge over Rogers in video experience

In our State of Mobile Video Report, the Americas didn't compare that favorably with Europe in mobile video quality, but one country did stand out in the New World. Canada was one of two countries we examined in the Americas that commanded a Good score in our video experience rankings, beating out not only the big nations of Latin America but also its huge neighbor to the south, the U.S. Within Canada we found that all three operators maintained a high level of video experience, though two operators shared the lead: Telus and Bell.

First, let's define what exactly a Good overall video experience score is. In our 0-100 scale, a Good score falls within the 55-65 range and it generally means that video streamed from the internet to a phone or tablet renders at low and high resolutions but exhibits longer loading times before playback begins and some stalling, especially at HD resolutions. A Good rating is just below Very Good, which is the highest rating achieved by any of the 69 countries we analyzed in our video report. (For more information on video experience see this blog post.)

In our Canada analysis, Bell and Telus were statistically tied for the lead in our video experience analysis, both with scores between 61 and 62. Rogers, however, wasn't too far behind with a score just below 58. All three scores fell within the Good range, meaning that Canada's operators are all offering a comparably reliable video experience, though Telus and Bell definitely have an edge. In many other countries we often see a much broader spread of scores between operators. For instance, in Portugal each of the country's three operators had a completely different rating, ranging for Fair to Very Good.

So what distinguishes Bell and Telus from Rogers in our video experience analysis? The obvious answer would seem to be network speed. In our last Canada report, we found that both Bell and Telus's overall download speed results were at least 9 Mbps faster than Rogers. Download speed definitely has its place in video experience as a more powerful connection can support a higher resolution video stream. But contrary to popular belief, speed isn't the main determining factor for a solid video experience.

One of the major findings of OpenSignal's State of Mobile Video report is that the countries with the fastest download speeds weren't necessarily the ones offering the best video experience. In fact, many countries that had far slower average overall download speeds in our results ranked higher than Canada in our video report. In Canada's case, speeds across all of the operators have gotten fast enough that even a huge advantage in average throughput only produces a minimal increase in video experience. What we're likely seeing is a bunch of other factors in play. Network latency is a big one, as the faster a request makes its way to the server and returns content to the device, the sooner the video begins playing. In our Canada report, we found that Bell and Telus had average 4G latencies at least 6ms lower than Rogers. Consistency of speed also plays its part as a connection that jumps wildly between 50 Mbps and 5 Mbps from one moment to the next could cause a video stream to stutter and stop. Here Bell and Telus's slight advantage over Rogers in 4G availability that we recorded in our last report may be giving them the edge. As our users spent more time on Bell and Telus’s 4G networks, they had more access to connections capable of supporting an optimized video experience.

If you're a Canadian mobile subscriber, we'd love to hear about your own experience with video on Bell, Rogers and Telus's networks. Tell us about them in the comments section below.