Mobile experience is heavily influenced by whether a user can access 4G at any time. In Peru, 4G Availability is seen to vary by region, ranging from as little as 68.1 in Pasco, to as high as 88.2 in Callao.
The regions of Callao, Lambayeque, Arequipa, La Libertad and Lima Province were the only ones scoring higher than the national average. Meanwhile, the bottom majority of the list, from Puno to Pasco, saw a 4G Availability below that of our national average of 83.7 ±0.4. Looking among the top scoring regions in 4G Availability, we see that they tend to be areas with very high population density. One exception is Ucayali, a region located in the Amazon rainforest with a population density of around 5 people per square kilometer – third lowest after neighboring Madre de Dios and Loreto – where our users were able to connect to 4G a surprising 85.3% ±3.3% of the time.
Conversely, the regions with lowest 4G Availability tend to be sparsely-populated, although here too we see some notable exceptions: Cajamarca has a density of around 40 people/km², 5th highest in Peru, yet at 72.7 4G Availability, it ranks among the lowest in the country. The Lima region, surrounding Lima Province and Peru’s capital, was another case of a high-density region – 28 people/km² – with a relatively low 4G Availability of 74.5%.
While 4G Availability varied by 20 points across Peru’s regions, we have not seen any region to be more than 2 points away from another, with the exception of Pasco, whose mean score was 3.4 percentage points below Huancavelica’s. This suggests that there is a gradual decline in Availability between regions and that there is no discernible chasm in regional experience across Peru.
Overall Download Experience in Peru varied more dramatically, where it ranged from as little as 4.8 Mbps in vast Loreto to over three times higher in tiny Tumbes – 16.6 Mbps. This makes sense as we typically expect larger regions to depend on lower frequency spectrum which offers reduced download speeds in exchange for covering more land area.
In fact, the highest scoring regions were not just the smallest but also among the most populated. The six regions beating the national average of 13.4 Mbps ±0.1 were the six densest in Peru. Meanwhile the lowest scoring regions such as Puno, Amazonas, Ayacucho, Pasco, and Loreto were some of the least populated in Peru.
A notable exception here is Ucayali region, which achieved an impressive Download Speed Experience of 14.3 Mbps ±1.1, despite being located in the Amazon basin and having the second largest area and among the lowest population densities in the country. More on Ucayali below.
Video Experience in Peru mostly ranges from Poor to Fair but approaches Good in two regions — Ucayali and Callao. With scores between 31.5 in Loreto and 55.1 in Ucayali, regional Video Experience scores appear more surprising for our users in Peru than 4G Availability or Download Speed Experience. Although the number of regions beating the national average and those underperforming it looks very similar to the other two metrics, the highest and lowest scores belong to two neighboring regions in the Amazon basin, which raises the question of how this large score difference was possible, given that their difference in 4G Availability is just around 8 percentage points.
One explanation takes into account the population distribution of each region. Out of Ucayali’s population of almost 500 thousand, over 325 thousand or almost two thirds live in the regional capital, Pucallpa. By contrast, while Loreto is home to almost 900 thousand people, less than half live in its regional capital Iquitos. Another factor is that Iquitos is not connected by road and is only accessible by boat or plane, which poses a significant hindrance to infrastructure development – in fact it is the largest city in the world not accessible by road. Loreto’s existing cell towers are often 2G or 3G only and hence offer a severely lacking Video Experience. Meanwhile Pucallpa is connected by highway to Lima.
Loreto’s extreme remoteness and the challenge of providing reliable mobile service there attracted the attention of several companies including Alphabet’s Loon to strike a deal for improving coverage. The deal is reportedly “initially targeting locations that make up a total of around 15% of Loreto’s territory and are home to nearly 200,000 residents”, around a quarter of which lack 3G connectivity, whilst many have no access to a reliable mobile service outside of populated areas.