Quantifying Norway’s urban-rural mobile experience divide

In this Opensignal analysis, we have found that our urban users in Norway see average download speeds that are over 20% faster than those observed by their rural counterparts. However, the rural-urban divide for Download Speed Experience is smaller in Norway than in neighboring countries. Moreover, there is no statistically significant difference between the Availability measured by our Norwegian users in either urban or rural locations.

We have used the European Environment Agency’s (EEA) definition of Urban Morphological Zones in conjunction with our data to examine how Norway’s mobile network experience varies across rural and urban areas. In addition to this we have also looked at similar surrounding markets for comparison — Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

Our users in Norway enjoy impressive overall download speeds, whether they are in rural areas or urban. Out of the four Nordic countries we analyzed (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland), Norway had both the fastest rural and urban Download Speed Experience scores — with Norway’s rural score of 76.5Mbps also beating urban Download Speed Experience scores in Sweden and Finland. On top of having the fastest scores for both rural and urban Download Speed Experience, Norway also has the smallest relative gap between rural and urban areas for this measure. Norwegian users in urban areas, on average, see overall download speeds 22.8% faster than rural areas — remarkably lower than the divide seen by Swedish users of 34.1%, by Danish users of 37.7% and by Finnish users 49.7%.

Looking instead at 5G we see a slightly different story. Our users in Norway see a similar difference between rural and urban zones to that seen for Download Speed Experience — 49.7Mbps (24.7%) for 5G — up 1.9 percentage points from the relative Download Speed Experience difference. However, the rural-urban divide seen in Sweden and Finland narrows substantially when we look at 5G Download Speed, with urban areas faster by 30.1Mbps (11.1%) and 33.2Mbps (16.7%), respectively — while Denmark sees the greatest gap at 84.1Mbps (43%).

Availability plays a large role in users’ mobile experience, as they cannot make much use of fast download speeds without a connection. The gap between rural and urban areas for Availability in Norway is not statistically significant, with scores of  96.8-97.1%. Although Availability measures the proportion of time all users on an operator’s network have either a 3G, 4G or 5G connection, both Telia and Telenor have confirmed closure of their 3G networks — this means that our users in Norway spend similar amounts of time with an active 4G or better connection. 

When compared to the neighboring markets of Denmark, Finland and Sweden, Norway scores slightly lower across both rural and urban parts of the country — Sweden and Finland statistically tie for rural Availability, while all three tie for urban Availability, with statistically level scores of 99.1-99.2%.

There is little difference between Norwegian users in urban and rural locations in the uplift in speeds they see when connected to 5G compared to those on 4G — with increases of 2.8 times and 2.9 times for rural and urban areas, respectively. Our users in urban areas see moderately faster 4G and 5G speeds than their rural counterparts — with the gap being 14.5Mbps (20.2%) for 4G and 49.7Mbps (24.7%) for 5G.

Not only is the boost provided by 5G relatively comparable, users spend a statistically similar proportion of time with active 5G connections (5G Availability) in both zones. Our Norwegian users in both rural and urban areas have scores of 11.7-13.5%. This is important as users can only benefit from increased 5G speeds when they have an active 5G connection.

Opensignal’s analysis shows that there is a clear divide between rural and urban areas when it comes to download speeds. Our Norwegian urban users enjoy over 20% faster average download speeds, whether looking at overall or 5G speeds. However, Norway’s impressive overall download speeds mean that our users in the country have the fastest rural speeds out of the countries analyzed (Denmark, Finland and Sweden) — even faster than Sweden’s and Finland’s urban scores. There is not much of a divide for Availability, with Norwegian users in urban and rural areas spending a statistically equal amount of time with a 4G or better connection, although slightly less than users in neighboring markets.