Benchmarking the Global 5G Experience — March 2022

In Opensignal’s recent report — the 5G Impact on the Global Mobile Network Experience — we analyzed how users’ overall experience has improved during the 5G era. Now, in this updated insight, we quantify the 5G experience of 5G users in the leading global markets.

The average 5G Download Speed of South Korean users has increased since Opensignal’s last global 5G comparison at the end of November. Retaining top position, South Koreans experienced 5G download speeds of 438 Mbps up from 423.8 Mbps. Sweden (338.4 Mbps) and UAE (319.4 Mbps) overtake Norway (296.5 Mbps) to move into second and third place respectively. Rivalry between neighboring markets continues with New Zealand (253 Mbps) continuing to rank above Australia (224.7 Mbps).

5G Peak Download Speed across all markets continues to be considerably faster than the average 5G download speeds that users see. While the top 15 markets see average 5G download speeds range from 205.8 Mbps (Israel) to 438 Mbps (South Korea), the 5G Peak Download Speed is approximately two to three times faster, varying from 576.9 Mbps (Hungary) to South Korea’s 866.9 Mbps.

There are changes in the 5G Upload Speed leaders too. Sweden again moves ahead of Norway this time to place top with average 5G upload speeds seen by our users of 45.9 Mbps ahead of Norway’s 39.9 Mbps. Other risers include the Czech Republic (38.3 Mbps), Qatar (30.4 Mbps) which means it moves up into the top 15, as does Portugal with 28.9 Mbps, while the UAE (29.5 Mbps) moves up the table slightly. Switzerland holds onto its position with 37.2 Mbps. 

There’s little to choose between the leading markets for 5G Video Experience, but there have been rank changes since the last global comparison. Taiwan moves into the table, placing just behind second placed Sweden with scores of 83 and 83.3 respectively on a 100-point scale. Norway is top with a score of 83.4. European markets continue to outnumber other regions with 11 of the top 15 global markets for 5G Video Experience coming from Europe. All four of the remainder are from Asia Pacific.

There is more variation in 5G Games Experience across leading markets. South Korea retains its top position for multiplayer mobile gaming with a slightly raised score of 91.9 on a 100-point scale compared with 91.2 last time. Despite a much more recent 5G launch than most of the other top 15 markets, Indonesia moves into the table with a 5G Games Experience score of 84.6. This is likely because the majority of Indonesian 5G users are in major urban areas, but in markets where 5G is more widely deployed many more suburban and rural 5G users will be contributing to the overall score as well as urban. Singapore continues to see a strong experience but its score of 85.4 is slightly lower than last time’s score of 88.3.

Comparing the average 5G Download Speed in a market with the average 4G Download Speed continues to show a big difference. The top 15 markets for such uplift see 5G Download Speed between six times and 9.6 times faster compared to 4G. Top of the table is Chile with 9.6 times faster, followed by Philippines with 8.9 times, and Israel with 8.5 times faster average download speeds using 5G.

Looking at the uplift in Video Experience, Philippines is top with a 5G Video Experience score that is 33% better than its 4G Video Experience score. Chile (29% greater), Indonesia (29%), Thailand (23%), and Israel (22%) also see much improved 5G experience likely in part because the use of 5G side steps existing network congestion on 4G spectrum and because operators are less likely to manage 5G video traffic as aggressively as they do on older technology generations.

Impressively, South Korea also tops two measures of the extent of the 5G experience, as well as ranking highly in 5G speeds, 5G multiplayer gaming experience and the 5G experience of using over-the top (OTT) voice apps. Our South Korean 5G users spent 30.7% of time — almost one third — with an active 5G connection (5G Availability) which tops the global rankings. Similarly, South Korea has an excellent 6.6 on a 10-point scale for 5G Reach meaning our 5G users saw 5G service in two thirds of locations they visited. 

A number of markets have seen 5G’s extent increase. USA sees a score of 22.3% for 5G Availability now compared with 20.8% last time, and similarly sees 5G Reach increase from 5.4 to 5.8. Also, Taiwan sees rises in both its 5G Availability score (from 20.3% to 24.2%) and 5G Reach (4.8 to 5.3).

Two markets move into the global top 15 for 5G Availability, they are France (13.2%) and Singapore (13%). On 5G Reach, the one new market among the top 15 globally is Qatar (5.9).

During 2022, users’ 5G experience will improve further because operators will launch new versions of 5G and deploy more 5G spectrum in many markets, and smartphone makers are launching new 5G smartphone models with improved 5G chipsets, modems and radio front end (RFE) hardware. As a result, the gap between the 5G experience and older mobile technologies will widen which will increase the need for operators to retire 2G and 3G networks so as to deploy modern standards.

As mobile users upgrade their handsets they will increasingly be offered 5G smartphone models and 5G services as the default offering from mobile operators. During 2022, 5G will start to become the mainstay of the mobile experience in many markets. In others, the 5G journey is starting, but 5G offers the promise of a significantly superior experience and in these markets where there is often still a significant amount of 3G in use, the benefit of 5G is likely to be even greater than in early markets.