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5G speeds and 5G Availability increase across the Brazilian regions

Opensignal has been closely tracking the development of the mobile network experience of our users in Brazil since the initial 5G standalone access (SA) launch in July 2022. Average 5G download speeds (5G Download Speed) skyrocketed overnight in Brazilian cities and towns where operators have launched 5G Standalone services in the 3.5GHz band. For example, Brasília saw nearly eight times faster average 5G download speeds after the first 5G SA deployments, with several cities seeing multiple times faster 5G Download Speed scores as well. As a result of these roll-outs, the average 5G download speeds in state capitals exceeded 200Mbps, even clocking in at 400Mbps in some of them.

The initial 5G SA roll-outs set the bar high for the country’s 5G mobile network experience. Looking at the recent year-on-year changes in 5G speeds and 5G signal availability in Brazil and across its states, we observe less spectacular but still steady improvements in the mobile network experience of our users at a national level and a more varied scale of increases at a regional or city level.



Comparing the mobile network experience of our users during 90 days starting on November 1, 2023 and ending on January 29, 2024 to the period 12 months earlier, we can still observe improvements in average 5G download and upload speeds. 5G Download Speed at a national level rose by 6.3%, while 5G Upload Speed — by 4.4%. These are much more modest and incremental increases compared to the initial boosts seen across the cities in July 2022, which catapulted Brazil to the ranks of the global and regional frontrunners for 5G Download Speed. Improvements in 5G speeds in Brazil are slowing down as mobile traffic and the congestion on 5G networks increase, with more mobile users upgrading to 5G-capable devices.

While Brazil has aced the 5G speed game globally, it has lagged behind many markets for 5G Availability — the proportion of time our 5G users spend with an active 5G connection. Our Brazilian 5G users spend nearly 10% of their time connected to a 5G signal. This is nearly a fifth as much time as 12 months earlier. Higher 5G Availability means more frequent access to faster speeds. This in turn contributes to faster overall speeds and a better user experience in general for Brazilian users. Therefore, the improvement in 5G Availability is likely to be more perceived by users than the modest improvements seen in 5G speeds.


While we focus on analyzing the progress in the 5G user experience in Brazil, 5G SA development has also had a positive side-effect impact on the 4G experience in the country, which also adds to the improvement of the overall user experience.


Before the launches in the 3.5GHz band, Brazilian operators depended on Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technology to roll out their 5G services. As the technology uses the existing 4G spectrum for both 4G and 5G connections, this limits the quality of the 5G user experience but also restricts the 4G spectrum from being fully dedicated to 4G use. Opensignal data shows that for 5G services, mobile operators in Brazil are exclusively using the 3.5GHz band.


The successful transition from DSS to SA freed more spectrum bandwidth for 4G users, resulting in a 15.5% year-on-year increase in 4G Download Speed. Upgrades of the underlying infrastructure and 4G congestion reduced by some mobile traffic moving onto 5G networks have also contributed to these improvements. Faster 4G and 5G download speeds and more time spent on 5G have also driven a 25.1% increase in the overall Download Speed Experience. Faster speeds have also contributed to improvements in Consistent Quality, as sufficient speeds to complete tasks remain an important factor in network experience. 



Looking across the Brazilian states — the majority of them see substantial improvements in 5G Availability. Amapá and Acre see the highest absolute year-on-year increases in their 5G Availability scores, of 5.5 percentage points each — they are also two of the leaders for this metric, next to Distrito Federal and Rio de Janeiro. 


Meanwhile, Santa Catarina enjoys the biggest relative boost in this metric, followed by Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais. Our 5G users in Santa Catarina spend twice as much time connected to 5G than 12 months earlier — although it still ends in last place among Brazilian states for this metric. 


Piauí is the only state in Brazil where we noticed a decrease in 5G Availability. At the same time, improvements in Ceará, Mato Grosso, and Paraíba are quite modest, in the 0.2-0.3 percentage points range.



While 5G Download Speed has increased by 6.3% and 5G Upload Speed by 4.4% nationally — we can observe a more diverse picture at a state level. Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Maranhão are states that see the highest relative increases in average 5G download and upload speeds across the Brazilian states


Meanwhile, some states have also observed drops in their 5G Download Speed over the year — Santa Catarina has seen a decrease of 18.2%, while declines in Rondônia, Rio Grande do Sul, and Espírito Santo exceeded 5%. For 5G Upload Speed Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, and Santa Catarina are the states with the highest relative declines in scores. 5G speeds lowering over time as 5G adoption progresses can be a natural occurrence, with higher traffic and greater network congestion coming into play. 



Opensignal also looked ​​at 5G Availability and 5G Download Speed year-on-year changes across seven of the most populated cities in Brazil — and we observed increases across all of them in both metrics, although of a varying scale. Salvador and Belo Horizonte enjoy the biggest increases in 5G Availability, of five or more percentage points, while Rio de Janeiro sees the smallest improvement out of the pack. For 5G Download Speed — relative year-on-year improvements exceeded 10% in Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Manaus, and Salvador, but are negligible in Brasília and Rio de Janeiro.

Since the first 5G SA launches, ANATEL has been gradually clearing the 3.5GHz band for mobile use. As of mid-March 2024, the recent regulatory decision makes these frequencies ready for mobile services in 3,678 municipalities — a potential of 5G coverage for around 85% of the Brazilian population. The initial switchover to 5G SA networks has massively boosted average 5G speeds for mobile users in Brazil — and also reduced latency and jitter, which led to improvements in the gaming experience and fewer user complaints, However, 5G speeds are reaching their peak throughout the country, especially as 5G adoption and traffic grow. Expansion of the 5G signal footprint is the next big challenge for Brazilian mobile networks, as 5G Availability is still relatively low in the country compared to other markets. Closing the digital gap between urban and rural areas is another key action, as 5G Standalone deployments in Brazil have been exclusively focused on urban parts of the country.