At busy times 5G is more consistent than 4G in Japan

In Japan the 5G experience continues to be far superior to older 4G technology. But it’s not only the average experience which is better with 5G, but also the consistency of the mobile experience. At busy times of the day when there are more users awake and more usage of the networks, Opensignal’s latest analysis shows the quality of the 4G experience falls much more than the 5G experience and is more likely to cause users problems.

The quietest hours of the day for mobile network usage when the mobile network experience is best in Japan are typically between 3am and 6am. Compared with those quiet times, users’ average download speeds fall by over 20% in the afternoon and evening on 4G. But with 5G, speeds fall by approximately 6% in the afternoon — much less — and between 9.3% and 11.2% in the evening after 6pm, again much lower than the fall on 4G.

Similarly, the quality of the video streaming experience and mobile multiplayer gaming experience falls less with 5G than 4G at busy hours of the day. While Video Experience scores fall on 4G networks by approximately 4.4% in the afternoon and evening, with 5G the experience scores drop by just 1.3% - 2.1%. And for Games Experience, there is a similar trend.

The 5G experience is also much better across all hours of the day. Users’ average download speeds on 5G range from 152.1Mbps and 171.3Mbps on 5G. This means that across the day the 5G Download Speed is between 3.2 and 3.8 times faster than the average 4G Download Speed in Japan.

With Video Experience and Games Experience there are also higher scores with 5G than 4G. The difference is greater for Video Experience. The improvement in Video Experience score using 5G ranges from a 5% to 7% but for gaming it is 2% or less. This is in part due to the type of 5G technology that is most commonly deployed in Japan, and elsewhere. For now, the vast majority of 5G networks and smartphone devices connect with early versions of the 5G standards that are not intended to dramatically improve the experience of latency-sensitive applications such as mobile gaming. This is starting to change and it will be important to see how the 5G Games Experience evolves over time.

For now, Opensignal’s new analysis of the consistency of the mobile experience across the day highlights one of the ongoing issues with 4G. At busy times of the day the 4G experience is often much worse than the average 4G experience score across all hours suggests. This increases the likelihood that users have problems with the quality of the network experience, triggering them to consider switching to a rival operator.

By contrast, the dramatically increased capacity on 5G networks because of the use of new spectrum bands — such as the 3.6-4.6GHz bands in Japan — mean the 5G experience remains much more consistent at busy times. Mobile services promise users connectivity anywhere but also anytime. Opensignal’s analysis demonstrates another benefit of the latest 5G networks over the older 4G generation.