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Quantifying the speed bar for a reliable mobile experience

Mobile users are all too familiar with the situation of having a good mobile signal but with a connection that is not good enough to stream video reliably, browse the web, share photos, or do whatever else with their phone. In Opensignal’s new analysis we quantify the level of experience which mobile users are able to rely upon across 20 international markets.

Mobile services tend to be more variable and less reliable than fixed broadband because of the unique challenges of cellular services. For example, users move around continuously, and wireless technologies have less capacity than fixed broadband technologies like fiber and suffer more from congestion. 

To understand the level of connectivity that mobile users are able to rely on, Opensignal has quantified the average speed which 90% of our users exceed. This is the reliable speed. South Koreans had the highest reliable download speed of 15.6 Mbps, which means that 90% of Koreans had on average a download speed of at least 15.6 Mbps. Of course, most users had a much faster experience, but this is the bar Korean users can rely upon. Ranked second, Dutch users had a reliable download speed of 13.6 Mbps, followed by Japan’s mobile users’ reliable speed of 10.9 Mbps.

In most of the twenty international markets Opensignal has analyzed, the reliable download speed ranged between 3 Mbps and 6 Mbps. These reliable speeds may not seem very fast compared with typical average speeds, but remember they are the speed users can rely upon because almost all users have seen speeds that are the same — or likely much faster — than this value. Only a small proportion of Opensignal users had a worse experience.

5G has dramatically enhanced the reliable download speed of Opensignal users. In every one of the 20 markets we analyzed, mobile users enjoyed a reliable download speed over 10 Mbps when connected to 5G and in two — South Korea and Taiwan — the reliable download speed was over 100 Mbps.

In every market, the 5G reliable download speed was much faster than the 4G reliable download speed with especially large jumps in Thailand (19.8 times faster), Taiwan (17.3x), the Philippines (15.9x), Hong Kong (15.8x), South Korea (12x), Saudi Arabia (10.6x) and Finland (10.3x).

These improvements in reliable download speed mean that users can rely upon 5G more than 4G where available — even though 5G technology is new and immature — because 90% of users experienced at least this reliable speed.

Opensignal’s initial analysis into the reliable mobile experience highlights the need to invest in 5G because users can rely on a much higher level of experience using 5G. Also, these results demonstrate significant international differences — even with current 5G technology there is potential to raise the reliable experience in many countries significantly to close the 5G gap with South Korea, Taiwan, Finland and Australia.