Smartphone users’ daytime experience depends on their choice of operator in Santiago

Opensignal analyzed the fluctuations in 4G Download Speeds that our users in Santiago experienced throughout the day across different mobile operators. We found that, while all operators provided a similar mobile experience at quiet times at night, differences between operators emerged during the day when their networks became busy.

Santiago: 4G Download Speed fluctuations throughout the day, by operator

In our recent 5G Opportunity report, we analyzed the wide fluctuations in 4G Download Speeds experienced throughout the day on networks in 77 countries around the world, and Chile showed some interesting results. 4G networks in the Andean country were among the fastest in South America at off-peak times, suggesting that Chile's mobile networks are capable of delivering high speeds. However, at busy times of the day, speeds dropped drastically for all operators as many more people connected to 4G networks.

All four of Chile’s operators showed a similar trend but to a varying extent. The 4G Download Speeds users enjoyed were at the fastest across all operators between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., fell significantly in the morning, then continued to gradually decrease across the rest of the day — reaching the slowest speeds in the evening — and finally jumped back up in the middle of the night. Entel showed the least speed fluctuation of 19.2 Mbps between fastest and slowest 4G Download Speeds within a day, while our users on Movistar's network experienced the greatest range with a difference of 26.8 Mbps between quiet and busy times.

Santiago: 4G Download Speed across the day, by operator

At night, when most people are asleep and fewer devices connect to Chile's networks, we see that speeds experienced by users across mobile operators reached 30 Mbps or more in 4G Download Speed. Interestingly, at quiet hours all four operators had overlapping confidence intervals, showing that there was no meaningful difference between those fastest speeds. This is a very intriguing finding because it suggests that all networks are capable of delivering a similar experience when they are not under stress.

However, starting from 7 a.m. — as people wake up and more devices access 4G networks — we observed that our users’ experience took two divergent paths. During the working hours of the day Claro and Entel provided very similar 4G Download Speeds, stabilizing around 18 Mbps, while Movistar and WOM lagged behind, delivering significantly lower speeds — with a slowdown around 10 Mbps.

But it is after sunset that we observed a last plot twist. While during most of the day the speeds we measured were very close across two or more operators, in the evening all four mobile operators showed a drop in 4G Download Speed, settling them into a clear ranking. At 10 p.m. Entel users experienced on average 13.7 Mbps in 4G Download Speed, faster than Claro (10.6 Mbps), Movistar (7.5 Mbps) and WOM (5.3 Mbps).

By analyzing the average speeds operators provide at the busier times we can understand the experience users will have when they most want to use mobile data. In our latest Chile Mobile Network Experience report Opensignal found that three out of four operators were able to provide a 4G signal to our users more than 75% of the time. In our previous Chile report in August 2018, we observed that the surge in 4G Availability was accompanied by a slowdown in 4G Download Speed, as more and more users gained access to LTE technologies, increasing strain on the 4G networks. But now we have seen Download Speeds bounce back, giving a first clue that operators might be boosting their LTE networks’ capacity.

Opensignal’s data shows that users enjoy similar 4G Download Speeds across all four of Chile's main mobile operators when few people access 4G networks, but experience different speeds as more and more people connect to mobile data services. We see that congestion is a common challenge across all operators and that they should all try and reduce the variation in mobile network experience that users face during daytime — when most people want to use mobile data — in order to provide a consistent mobile experience.