State of Mobile Networks: Portugal (January 2018)

In our first ever look at Portugal, we found that one of the country's three operators stood out from the rest. Vodafone Portugal took the majority of OpenSignal's mobile awards, but in one category it shined particularly brightly: 4G speed. Parsing more than 178 million datapoints, we analyzed the 3G and 4G experience offered by MEO, NOS and Vodafone.


Vodafone far outpaces MEO and NOS in 4G speed

There couldn't be a stronger contrast between Vodafone and its two competitors in our 4G speed metric. We measured average Vodafone LTE downloads at 33.8 Mbps, while neither MEO nor NOS had speeds faster than 15 Mbps in our tests. Vodafone has clearly taken a big lead when it comes to high-performance connections.

A tight race emerges between NOS and Vodafone in 4G availability

In LTE availability, we found a much closer contest. NOS and Vodafone were statistically tied in this metric, both delivering a 4G connection to our users 80% of the time. The two operators drew in our Lisbon 4G availability measurements as well.

Vodafone wins five OpenSignal awards outright

Though it faced a challenge in 4G availability, Vodafone emerged as the dominant operator in our metrics, winning five awards outright in all three of our speed categories and both of our latency categories.

Speeds in Portugal lag Europe

Though Vodafone exhibited some impressive 4G speeds in our tests, NOS and MEO's poorer showings in this category dragged down Portugal's nationwide score for LTE downloads. According to our most recent global report, Portugal averaged 4G download speed was 19.1 Mbps, below the averages of most other European countries.

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: MEO NOS Vodafone
RegionDownload Speed: 4GLatency: 4GAvailability: 4G

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In our first look at the mobile market of Portugal, we examined the 3G and 4G services by the Iberian country's three nationwide operators and discovered that one service provider stood apart. Vodafone Portugal claimed five of our six awards outright and was tied for 1st place in the sixth category. Overall, we found that Portuguese operators have done a good job of building out access to 4G, but in speed, the country still has work to do. Though the typical 4G connection in Portugal is faster than the global average, the country is behind its European peers in speed.

For this report, OpenSignal analyzed more than 178 million measurements taken from 18,880 smart devices between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, 2017. We used that data to compare the 3G and 4G experience offered by Altice's MEO, NOS and Vodafone on the national level as well as in the capital city Lisbon. Let's dive into the data starting with the metric where we saw the greatest disparity in results: 4G speed.

Vodafone takes a commanding lead in speed

The race for fastest 4G speeds wasn't even close. We measured average LTE download speeds on Vodafone at 33.8 Mbps, which is more than double the average speeds tested on NOS (13.1 Mbps) and MEO (14.3 Mbps). The contrast was even more stark when compared to global averages. Vodafone's measured LTE speed was a full 17 Mbps faster than the global average download of 16.6 Mbps from our most recent State of LTE report. Meanwhile both NOS's and MEO's speed scores were at least 2 Mbps slower than that same global average. Vodafone has been investing heavily in its 4G systems for some time, announcing as far back as 2015 LTE-Advanced upgrades that tripled its 4G capacity and speeds. MEO recently announced plans for LTE-Advanced upgrades of its own, but as of this reporting period, the incumbent operators was still quite a distance from closing the speed gap with Vodafone.

In 3G speed, Vodafone also won top honors, though the contest was much closer. Vodafone averaged HSPA download speeds of 6.8 Mbps in our tests, while MEO took second place with an average download of 5.3 Mbps. Given Vodafone won both our 3G and 4G speed awards it easily locked down OpenSignal's overall speed award. It had an average download of 18.6 Mbps across its mobile data networks, which was nearly 10 Mbps faster than its competitors' averages in our tests.

Vodafone didn't run away with all of OpenSignal's awards though. It faced a stiff challenge from NOS in one of our key metrics, 4G availability. Availability measures the proportion of time users can access a network signal. In the case of NOS and Vodafone, our users were able to find 4G connections on their networks 80% of the time, resulting in a statistical draw for first place. Both operators' scores were admirable, showing both have reached maturity in their LTE deployments. MEO, however, has some catching up to do. Our MEO testers were only able to connect to LTE 63.5% of the time.

Our final set of metrics cover latency, which is effectively the responsiveness of a network. Low latency connections produce less lag time in real-time communications apps like VoIP and video chat and generate more fluid internet surfing sessions. Vodafone won our 4G latency award with an LTE ping time of 32.6 milliseconds and our 3G latency award with an HSPA response of 65.1ms.

Looking to Lisbon and to Europe

For our regional analysis, OpenSignal zeroed in on Portugal's capital and largest city Lisbon, looking at how all three operators stacked up in our 4G metrics. Our Lisbon awards generally lined up with our national awards. Vodafone won both our 4G speed and latency categories, while we recorded a statistical draw between NOS and Vodafone in 4G availability. However, we found most operators improved on their national scores in the capital. Vodafone's 4G speed jumped to 39 Mbps in our Lisbon measurements, while MEO and NOS also enjoyed upticks in speed in the city. MEO was also able to provide a 4G signal to our users much more often in the capital than it was able to nationally. All three operators also posted better response times in our Lisbon 4G latency tests.

When we zoom out from Lisbon to the Europe at large, we find both good news and bad news for Portugal's operator community. The good news is Portugal stacked up well against its European peers in 4G availability. The typical Portuguese smartphone user was able to connect to a 4G network 71.4% of the time, according to OpenSignal's State of LTE report. That score was comparable to the level of 4G connectivity we see in the U.K. and much better than those of other Western European countries like France, Germany, Ireland and Italy. But Portugal's 4G availability fell well short of Iberian neighbor Spain's score of 80.2%.

In 4G speed, Portugal found itself behind its European peers. Though Vodafone had exemplary 4G speeds in our results, MEO and NOS's much slower tested speeds dragged down Portugal's nationwide 4G average. Portugal's typical 4G download of 19.1 Mbps was faster than the global average of 16.6 Mbps, but it lagged behind the faster LTE speeds we generally see throughout Europe. In comparison, France, Ireland and the U.K. all averaged 4G speeds faster than 20 Mbps in our LTE report, while Italy and Spain averaged speeds faster than 25 Mbps.

As MEO's new LTE-Advanced upgrades take hold we may well see its speeds increase significantly, which push Portugal into the upper tiers of speed. Until then, Portuguese 4G consumers must be content with wide-reaching 4G services, but (with one operator exception) not particularly fast connections.

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, 178,633,232 datapoints were collected from 18,880 users during the period: 2017-09-01 - 2017-11-30.

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.