Benchmarking the Global 5G Experience — November 2021

South Korea again tops the world for average 5G download speeds with a score of 423.8 Mbps. Norway is now second (355.3 Mbps) and Taiwan (320 Mbps) drops to third since the last global 5G comparison Opensignal published two months ago. However, on 5G Peak Download Speed Taiwan retains its top position.

Norway moves into first place in 5G Upload Speed with users experiencing average speeds of 41.9 Mbps, ahead of second placed Taiwan. While South Korea tops many 5G global categories, on 5G Upload Speed it is ninth. In total, 12 European markets are in the top 15 for average 5G upload speeds including early 5G launch markets like Switzerland (4th) and Germany (14th).

There is interesting competition between neighbors. New Zealand is one rank higher up the global 5G Download Speed chart than Australia — but their scores are statistically tied. In nordic markets, Norway (355.3 Mbps) is significantly ahead of Sweden (291.3 Mbps) and Finland (208.6 Mbps) on average 5G Download Speed.

South Korea’s strong showing continues when we look at multiplayer mobile gaming and communication using voice apps. South Korea has the highest score for 5G Games Experience of 91.2 on a 100-point scale — especially notable given the popularity of gaming in South Korea. It also has the highest score for 5G Voice App Experience (84.6).

A European market has the best 5G Video Experience with Sweden topping the world with a score of 83. South Korea fails to make the top 15 globally. Only two markets from outside Europe rank in the top 15: Singapore (80.8) and the Hong Kong special administrative region of China (80.3). Of the largest five European markets — France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK — only Germany is in the top 15 places in any of these categories. Germany ranks 9th for 5G Games Experience and 13th for both the other two.

Singapore has success on all three of these 5G experiential measures. It ranks third for 5G Games Experience, 12th for 5G Voice App Experience and 14th in 5G Video Experience. This is an especially impressive achievement given the 5G spectrum challenges and the limited availability of new 5G spectrum capacity in Singapore and across the region.

When we look at the degree to which the 5G experience is superior to older 4G technology we see different markets at the top. The Philippines has the greatest uplift in download speeds, with average 5G download speeds 9.8 times faster than 4G. Similarly, it tops the uplift chart for mobile video streaming with a 5G Video Experience score that is 34% higher than using 4G. Israel also features in both uplift charts, with speeds 8.9 times faster using 5G, and users seeing an 26% improvement in the score for Video Experience. Thailand ranks fourth for download speed uplift (7.5 times faster on 5G)  and third for video streaming (25% better with 5G). 

Even some of the fastest 5G markets are seeing a big improvement on 5G. South Koreans enjoy average 5G download speeds 6.3 times faster than 4G, Taiwan users have a 8.9 times faster speed, UAE users 7.4 and Swedes have an 7.1 fold jump.

In most global markets, we are still in the 5G roll-out phase. However, 5G is becoming increasingly common. Those users with a 5G smartphone and a 5G tariff plan spend over one fifth of time with an active 5G connection — 5G Availability — in use on their smartphone in seven markets: South Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Qatar, USA and Taiwan. On 5G Reach, in all of the top fifteen global markets users saw a 5G signal in over one third of the locations they visited.

What is most impressive about these results is that in a number of extremely large markets Opensignal users are seeing a wide extent of 5G services. The USA ranks 6th for 5G Availability and 4th for 5G Reach. Canada, the second largest country in the world by land area, ranks 13th in 5G Reach. Similarly, one of the geographically largest markets in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, places highly in both 5G Availability (3rd) and 5G Reach (8th) while the vast Australia ranks 14th for 5G Reach globally.

The latest 5G global analysis from Opensignal again highlights how 5G is accelerating improvements in the experience of mobile users worldwide. In 2022, Opensignal expects 5G to become an even more important part of life.

Hopefully, as people return to offices, go away on holiday, and again visit friends and relatives in distant places users will find 5G enables them to be entertained and productive while fully mobile again. If not, and the pandemic continues unchanged, then 5G will continue to be important for connecting essential workers, cord cutters, and helping everyone to stay in touch.

Whatever happens, 5G already underpins mobile services for many and helps to speed connectivity and sidestep congestion. And, in future, 5G will be the foundation of everyone’s mobile experience.