Brazil’s operators still far from providing a consistent 4G Download Speed

In Opensignal’s latest Brazil Mobile Network Experience report published in January, we recorded steady increases in mobile speeds across all operators, although we saw big differences in Download Speed Experience ranging from Oi’s average score of 7.7 Mbps to Claro’s 18.8 Mbps. We also measured very diverse speeds for the same operator in different cities: for instance, Claro’s subscribers enjoyed a Download Speed Experience of 33.6 Mbps in Belo Horizonte, but only 12.4 Mbps on average in São Luís.

Having observed that Brazil's mobile users can have very different network experiences based on which operator they are connected to and the city where they live, we then wondered to what extent their speeds swing over the course of a 24-hour period. In our recent  5G Opportunity report, we examined the wide fluctuations in 4G Download Speeds throughout the day that we observed on networks in 77 countries around the world, although we did not investigate single countries in detail.

Nationally, Brazil's mobile users on average enjoyed 18.6 Mbps in 4G Download Speed, but that varied between 16.4 Mbps at the slowest times — when the strain on the network is highest because of a large number of users consuming a lot of data — up to 28.6 Mbps at the fastest times — when fewer people are on the network. We also saw tremendous differences in the speed mobile users experienced by time of day when comparing Brazil’s major cities.

4G Download Speed range in Brazilian cities

Mobile users in the largest cities will often see their 4G Download Speeds drop by more than 12 Mbps over a 24-hour period as networks become busier and more congested. These drops are challenging because companies offering video, music, apps, or business services on mobile networks must ensure they continue to work even when the mobile network download experience is at its slowest. That is why understanding the experience at the slowest hour of the day provides a key insight and supplements the average speeds that we measure.

We recorded the largest fluctuation in Brasília where 4G Download Speed varied from 19.3 Mbps to 34.7 Mbps. São Paulo also experienced wild swings in speeds with more than 15 Mbps difference between slowest and fastest hours. Smartphone users in Fortaleza and Manaus saw the smallest fluctuations, though they experienced significantly slower average speeds across the whole day than users in the other cities. Average 4G Download Speeds in Manaus and Fortaleza were respectively 13.3 Mbps and 14.3 Mbps, more than 4 Mbps below the national average, and 10 Mbps slower than what our users experienced in Porto Alegre, the city where we recorded the highest average speed.

4G Download Speed at the slowest hour in Brazil's largest cities

Most of Brazil's biggest cities experienced slowest 4G Download Speeds between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., when many people finish working and are commuting home. However, in Brasília and Goiânia networks were busiest later, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Porto Alegre again showed exceptional results: when the network was busiest — between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. — smartphone users could still experience 4G Download Speeds of 21.4 Mbps — a higher speed than our users in all other cities enjoyed on average over the whole 24-hour period.

Providing a consistent mobile experience is one of the key challenges network operators currently face. Smartphone users should be able to enjoy a consistent experience when they consume mobile content, no matter where they are or what time of day it is. Opensignal’s data suggests Brazil’s mobile operators still have a long way to go in order to reduce the speed inconsistencies measured in the country and ensure their subscribers can enjoy seamless experiences anywhere and anytime.