When it comes to mobile network speeds in Spain, it was something of a two-horse race in our last State of Mobile Networks report. Movistar won our 3G download speed award, Vodafone took both overall speed and 4G upload — but the two drew for our coveted 4G download speed prize. So we drilled down a bit deeper into our 4G download data by looking at their peak speeds, where we discovered another tie between these fierce Iberian rivals.
What do we mean by peak speed? Our peak speed metric is a measure of the fastest speeds OpenSignal's users experience on Spain's networks. By examining only the fastest tests we record, we minimize the impact of technical or congestion limitations, and are thus able to provide an estimate of the optimal speeds our users in Spain experience in real-world conditions. Peak speed is different to the theoretical maximum speeds that some operators publish — the "up to 600 Mbps"-type claims — and that users themselves will never realistically be able to access. For more on OpenSignal's metrics, click here.
Our analysis found both Movistar and Vodafone's peak speed scores were within a few megabits of the 100 Mbps mark, resulting in a statistical draw between the two. Both of Spain's other two national operators were some way behind the leaders, with Orange seeing a score of 81.6 Mbps in our peak speed measurements, while Yoigo brought up the rear on 67.3 Mbps.
These results weren't a surprise, as we’ve seen Movistar and Vodafone locked in a heated battle for fastest average 4G speed in our last few reports on Spain, while Orange and Yoigo have consistently come in third and fourth places.
So what conclusions can we draw from these peak speed measurements? For one thing, all four Spanish operators’ peak speeds were very close to three times their average 4G download speeds. In other countries we've recorded peak speeds four times higher or more than average download speeds That would suggest that Spain's networks are relatively uncongested as average 4G download speeds in the country are much closer to its peak 4G speeds. Spain's operators appear to be managing their network resources effectively.
However, that doesn't mean Spain's operators aren't suffering from any congestion. In our last report on the Spanish market, there was some indication that mobile networks are becoming more loaded, as three operators saw their average 4G download speeds fall. Vodafone's average 4G download speed actually fell by nearly 2 Mbps in our measurements while Orange and Yoigo saw their scores fall by over 1 Mbps each.
Cisco forecast in 2016 that mobile data use in Spain would grow sevenfold in the five years to 2021, so these declines in 4G download speed are likely to be a sign of increased network congestion. If this trend continues then the gap between peak speed and average 4G download speed will likely grow. Spain's operators need to ensure their network development keeps up with demand if they wish to provide a consistent mobile user experience.
What's your experience of 4G download speeds in Spain? Have you experienced anything close to our measured peak speeds? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.