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Cottage country mobile network experience

As the summer months arrive in Canada, many urban dwellers will be flocking to rural areas to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy balmy weather closer to nature. And even in summer homes access to internet connectivity has become critical for sharing social media posts, listening to streaming music or watching videos. 

With the spirit of the Canadian summer in mind, Opensignal has examined users' mobile network experience in those areas commonly known as “cottage country” across Canada and compared it against the national average for different aspects of mobile network experience.

Our users' average mobile download speeds in cottage country regions racked up an impressive 113.7 Mbps, when connected to 5G — more than twice as fast as when connected to 4G (52.9 Mbps). However, the national 5G download speeds averaged 9.3% (10.6 Mbps) faster than those seen in cottage country, while average 4G download speeds were 11.9 (22.5%) Mbps higher.

Likewise, our users saw faster average upload speeds nationally than in cottage country areas. However, the gap between them was much smaller. Our users saw a 5G upload speed of 17.6 Mbps in cottage country regions, 7.6 Mbps (75.9%) faster than their average 4G upload speed of 10 Mbps. By contrast, with 5G, our Canadian users observed upload speeds of 19.8 Mbps and 11.8 Mbps with 4G — which is 2.2 Mbps (12.4%) and 1.8 Mbps (18.2%) faster than the speeds seen in cottage country regions, respectively.

Next, we analyzed the time users were able to spend connected to different network technology generations, as high mobile speeds become more important the more time users are able to spend with that type of connection. We found very little difference in these measures, with users in the cottage country region reporting 93.3% of the time connected to 4G or 5G and 10.1% of the time connected to an active 5G signal  — only 0.9-1.4 percentage points lower than the national average.

Looking at the experience of our Canadian users when streaming video over mobile connections, we found that our users in cottage country regions enjoyed an Excellent Video Experience when connected to 5G and a Good Video Experience when connected to 4G. These results align with the national experience, with no statistically significant difference in scores on 5G. Meanwhile, the national 4G Video Experience score was 3.8 points higher than the cottage country regions.

Moving onto the analysis of mobile multiplayer gaming, in line with the national Games Experience, our users in the cottage country region saw a Good (75-85) Games Experience when connected to 5G and a Fair (65-75) Games Experience when connected to 4G. 

Likewise, there was no statistically significant difference in users' quality of experience while using over-the-top (OTT) voice app services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger. Our users across Canada, including those in the cottage country region, observed a Good (80-87) Voice App Experience with 5G and an Acceptable (74-80) Voice App Experience with 4G. 

These results show that users in Canada's cottage country regions have impressive mobile download and upload speeds, which are faster than those experienced by users in many countries across the world. However, a significant gap exists between the mobile speeds seen by users in the cottage country and that seen by their peers nationally, on average. In contrast, the quality of users' experience in cottage country regions while streaming videos, playing multiplayer mobile games and using (OTT) voice app services, was on par with the national experience, with very little or no significant difference in scores on both 4G and 5G.

Our results also show that while Canada has yet to establish a global leadership position on 5G due to initial spectrum challenges, it continues to hold the advantage of strong 4G access and network capability that results in an excellent experience, even when in more rural surroundings.