State of Mobile Networks: Mexico (October 2016)

In our second look at the mobile networking landscape of Mexico, we see a continuation of trends we identified six months ago. Mexico's big incumbent remains a dominating force in OpenSignal's 4G rankings, but a newly revitalized challenger is making solid gains. Drawing on 420 million datapoints, OpenSignal compared the 3G and 4G performance of Mexico's three nationwide operators: Telcel, Movistar and AT&T.


Telcel takes the lead in our 4G speed tests

OpenSignal measured average LTE download speeds on Telcel's LTE network at 23.3 Mbps. AT&T, however, was a fast follower. Our users were able to connect to its LTE network at 19.3 Mbps.

A two-way tie for our LTE availability award

Telcel may have had an advantage in 4G speed, but the operator ran neck and neck with AT&T in 4G availability. Our testers were able to find an LTE signal on both operators' networks around 65% of the time.

AT&T wins overall speed crown on combined 3G, 4G strength

AT&T won out in our overall speed metric, which measures the typical mobile data connection users experience over both 3G and 4G networks. We recorded the fastest 3G speeds on AT&T's HSPA service, which, combined with its impressive LTE performance, helped it deliver average overall connections of 10.9 Mbps in our tests.

In Mexico City it's easier to find a 4G connection

In Mexico's capital, we saw improvement from all three operators in their availability scores. We measured the biggest improvement from Movistar, but AT&T won our availability award for Mexico city as our users were able to connect to its 4G network 75% of the time.

Opensignal Awards Table

Download Speed: 4G Download Speed: 3G Download Speed: Overall Latency: 4G Latency: 3G Availability: 4G


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Performance by Metric

Download Speed: 4G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by Opensignal users.

Download Speed: 3G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on 3G connections as measured by Opensignal users.

Download Speed: Overall

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.

Latency: 4G

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.

Latency: 3G

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.

Availability: 4G

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.

Regional Performance

This chart shows the regional winners in each category Opensignal measures. Click on the icons to see a more detailed graph showing each operator’s metrics in a particular region.

Legend: AT&T Movistar Telcel
Region Download Speed: 4G Latency: 4G Availability: 4G
Mexico City

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Mexico's LTE rollout continues to steam ahead as mobile giant Telcel faces off against its two smaller competitors Movistar and AT&T Mexico. Just as we saw in our first State of Mobile Networks report for Mexico, AT&T seems to be presenting the biggest challenge to Telcel in terms of network performance. It's been less than two years since AT&T swooped over the U.S. border, acquiring Mexican operators Iusacell and Nextel Mexico, and it's only been a year since it launched its first LTE network. But OpenSignal is already seeing AT&T match up against Telcel in many 4G performance metrics.

For this report, we drew on more than 420 million measurements taken by nearly 30,000 OpenSignal smartphone users in Mexico between June and August. Since publishing our last Mexico report in April, OpenSignal made some adjustments to both the way we collect data from our smartphone apps and the methodology we use to parse that data. The update allows us to make more measurements, examine new types of network metrics and hone the precision of the measurements we've always collected, helping us isolate the typical consumer mobile experience more effectively (for more details, see our recent blog post). The changes haven't affected our overall rankings of networks in Mexico or around the world, but for sake of analytical rigor we aren't making any direct comparisons between results collected from the two different methodologies.

While we examine the nationwide 3G and 4G performance of Mexico's big 3 operators — América Móvil's Telcel, Telefónica's Movistar and AT&T Mexico — OpenSignal is also taking its first glimpse at how 4G networks stacked up in the country's capital and largest population center Mexico City.

4G vs. 3G

Telcel and AT&T split our speed awards with AT&T winning top honors in 3G and overall speed and Telcel leading the 4G category. Our testers on Telcel's LTE network averaged download speeds of 23.3 Mbps. AT&T wasn't far behind in our 4G measurements, though, averaging 19.3 Mbps per connection. Meanwhile Movistar came in last in our summer tests, averaging 15.3 Mbps. Telcel may have won our 4G speed award, but that doesn't mean it won our overall speed metric, which tracks the typical data speed users see across operators' 3G and 4G networks. AT&T took that honor. That's due mainly to AT&T's high performing HSPA network.

We clocked average AT&T 3G speeds at 4.1 Mbps, while our measurements for both Telcel and Movistar connections came in under 3 Mbps. Those fast 3G connections combined with AT&T's good showing in our 4G speed metric meant AT&T was able to deliver average overall connection speeds of 10.9 Mbps, compared to 8.5 Mbps for Telcel, according to our data.

When it came to 4G availability, we saw a much closer race between Telcel and AT&T. Rather than track geographic coverage, our availability metric measures the proportion of time users have access to a particular network. In this case, OpenSignal users were able to latch onto an AT&T LTE signal 66.5% of the time and a Telcel LTE signal 64.9% of the time — both results were close enough to produce a statistical tie in our analysis. Movistar, however, still has some work to do to catch up with either operator. Our testers had access to a Movistar 4G connection just over half the time.

The final metric we tracked was network latency, which measures the reaction of a network. A lower latency connection means data makes the round trip between a smartphone and the network much more quickly, enabling more responsive internet browsing and producing less lag time in communications apps. Telcel won our 4G latency award with an average response time of 49.1 milliseconds, while AT&T and Movistar shared our 3G latency prize with response times just over 120ms.

A look at the Capital

When we drilled down into our measurements for the capital region, we found that LTE signals were much more readily available in Mexico City. While AT&T was tied with Telcel in 4G availability nationally, it won 4G availability in Mexico City outright. Our AT&T network testers were able to see a 4G connection 75% of the time.

All three operators, however, saw big improvements over their national numbers in the former Distrito Federal, but none saw as big an improvement as Movistar. The Telefónica subsidiary scored 63.3% in our availability metric, 12 percentage points higher than its nationwide availability rating. Even with that big boost in 4G accessibility though, Movistar wasn't able to catch up to Telcel, which came in second in our availability rankings for Mexico City. Our users were able to connect to Telcel's LTE network in the capital 68% of the time.

In terms of speed, operators' performance in Mexico City largely lined up with their national results. Just as it won OpenSignal's nationwide 4G speed award, Telcel won our 4G speed prize in Mexico's largest city, averaging 23 Mbps in our measurements. Telcel also had the lowest 4G latency in our tests in Mexico City, averaging 39.4ms.

As always, the mobile competitive landscape in Mexico is constantly evolving. Both AT&T and Movistar have announced plans to expand their LTE networks, and they're doing so at an opportune time. América Móvil continues to face regulatory constraints until it pares down its outsized share of the Mexican mobile market (which has been as high as 70%). There's no better time to grow when the dominant player in your industry is being pressured to shrink.

Our Methodology

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks as they go about their daily lives. We collect 3 billion individual measurements every day from tens of millions of smartphones worldwide.

Our measurements are collected at all hours of the day, every day of the year, under conditions of normal usage, including inside buildings and outdoors, in cities and the countryside, and everywhere in between. By analyzing on-device measurements recorded in the places where subscribers actually live, work and travel, we report on mobile network service the way users truly experience it.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the changing experience of consumers on mobile networks and, therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only. For more information on how we collect and analyze our data, see our methodology page.

For this particular report, 427,668,954 datapoints were collected from 29,839 users during the period: 2016-06-01 - 2016-08-31.

For every metric we've calculated statistical confidence intervals and plotted them on all of the graphs. When confidence intervals overlap for a certain metric, our measured results are too close to declare a winner in a particular category. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

Opensignal Limited retains ownership of this report including all intellectual property rights, data, content, graphs & analysis. Reports produced by Opensignal Limited may not be quoted, reproduced, distributed, published for any commercial purpose (including use in advertisements or other promotional content) without prior written consent.

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