OpenSignal has partnered with Sutel to look at the 3G and 4G performance of Costa Rica's three major operators, drawing on nearly 20 million measurements conducted by our users in this Central American country. Our tests revealed plenty of mobile data connectivity in Costa Rica, but a fast mobile broadband connection was much harder to find. (For a Spanish version of this report click here.)
Though LTE services are still limited in Costa Rica, Movistar's network stood out in our tests. The local Telefónica subsidiary won OpenSignal's awards for fastest 4G speeds and highest 4G availability.
The typical LTE connection in Costa Rica is 5.8 Mbps, about one third of the global average. The fastest 4G download speeds we measured were on Movistar's LTE network, averaging 7.1 Mbps.
3G services are highly accessible in Costa Rica. Our users were able to find a 3G or better signal on every operator's network more than 88% of the time. Those HSPA services help fill in the gaps as operators build out their 4G footprints.
Limited 4G availability meant limited access to LTE's relatively faster speeds. That combined with generally sluggish 3G and 4G performance resulted in the typical mobile data connection in Costa Rica being quite slow. We measured the fastest overall average speed on Movistar at 3.2 Mbps.
|Download Speed: 4G||Download Speed: 3G||Download Speed: Overall||Latency: 4G||Latency: 3G||Availability: 4G||Availability: 3G/4G|
This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by Opensignal users.
This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on 3G connections as measured by Opensignal users.
This metric shows the average download speed experienced by Opensignal users across all of an operator's 3G and 4G networks. Overall speed doesn't just factor in 3G and LTE speeds, but also the availability of each network technology. Operators with lower LTE availability tend to have lower overall speeds because their customers spend more time connected to slower 3G networks.
This metric shows the average latency for each operator on LTE connections as measured by Opensignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.
This metric shows the average latency for each operator on 3G connections as measured by Opensignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.
This metric shows the proportion of time Opensignal users have an LTE connection available to them on each operator’s network. It's a measure of how often users can access a 4G network rather than a measure of geographic or population coverage.
This metric shows the proportion of time users on each network have a 3G or 4G (LTE) connection available to them.
For this report we drew upon 19.7 million measurements from 1,836 OpenSignal smartphone users in Costa Rica between May 1 and July 31. We examined 3G performance and (where available) 4G performance on the networks of all three major operators: América Móvil's Claro, Grupo ICE's Kölbi and Telefónica's Movistar. First, let's take a look at the accessibility of mobile data services in Costa Rica.
Rather than measure geographic coverage, OpenSignal's availability metric tracks the proportion of time users can find a signal on a particular network. Looking first at 4G, our testers were able to connect to Movistar's LTE network 63.2% of the time and to Kölbi's LTE network 44.4% of the time. Though Claro launched its first 4G service in 2014, the number of tests we have on its LTE network is still very limited, so we've excluded the operator from our 4G metrics.
When we expanded our analysis to include 3G, we found a much more pervasive mobile data infrastructure. Movistar was again the leader, delivering a 3G or better signal 96.2% of the time in our tests. Both Claro and Kölbi had impressive performances in this category as well, each with overall mobile data availability scores of 88.6%. In fact, in our most recent Global State of Mobile Networks report, Costa Rica fell among an elite group of countries able to deliver a 3G or better signal more than 90% of the time.
While Costa Rican operators stood out in network availability, we can't say the same about network speed. The fastest 4G download speeds we measured, 7.1 Mbps, were on Movistar's LTE network. To put that in perspective the global average for LTE connections is 17.4 Mbps, and in our most recent State of LTE report Costa Rica was the slowest of the 78 countries we examined in 4G speeds. The 3G speeds we measured on all three operators were also relatively low. Those slow 3G and 4G speeds, combined with Costa Rica's still limited access to 4G, meant overall mobile data speeds were also quite low, ranging from 1.8 Mbps to 3.2 Mbps (we only used 3G data in our calculations for Claro's overall speed).
The final metric we examined was latency, which is essentially the reaction time of a network. A lower latency connection leads to better mobile data performance in many applications such as real-time communications apps and web browsing. In both 3G and 4G latency we recorded statistical draws between Movistar and Kölbi.
While Costa Rica has laid a great foundation for mobile data services, it's still suffering from a lack of capacity, which ultimately determines the speeds Costa Rican consumers have access to. Operators have an opportunity to boost their 4G capacity in the coming year, though. Sutel has announced plans to auction off spectrum in two frequency bands in the first half of 2017. Those airwaves could be used to boost LTE speeds significantly.
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