State of Mobile Networks: Costa Rica (December 2018)

In partnership with Sutel, OpenSignal has examined more than 117 million measurements in Costa Rica to compare the 3G and 4G results of the country's three major operators. We found that Kölbi continues to set itself apart from its peers in 4G speed, while Movistar leads the country in 4G availability. (For a Spanish translation of this report click here.)


Kölbi's 4G download speeds continue to climb

Kölbi's skyrocketing download speeds show no sign of abating. In the last six months, the operator's average 4G download connection rose by 28% to 20.5 Mbps in our measurements. Kölbi's 4G download speeds are now well ahead of the global average, and nearly twice as fast as its closest Costa Rican rival in our results.

Movistar maintains its lead in 4G availability

Movistar led our 4G availability category with a score of 70.4%, meaning our users were able to find an LTE signal on its networks in seven out of every 10 attempts. Movistar is the only operator in Costa Rica to have crossed the 70% threshold in 4G availability.

Kölbi's overall download speeds grow thanks to an LTE boost

The growth in Kölbi's 4G download speeds is separating the operator from the pack in our overall download speed metric. Average download speeds across its 3G and 4G networks rose more than 3 Mbps to 12.5 Mbps in our measurements. Kölbi won our 4G upload award as well.

Claro's mobile broadband reach remains poor

Claro continues to languish below the 50% mark in our 4G availability metric, meaning our users could find a 4G signal on its networks less than half the time. Though our testers on Claro's networks spent most of their time connected to 3G, the operator had the lowest 3G download score in our measurements at 2.3 Mbps.

Opensignal Awards Table

Download Speed: 4G Download Speed: 3G Download Speed: Overall Upload Speed: 4G 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.

Upload Speed: 4G

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

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.


OpenSignal's past reports on Costa Rica haven't painted the rosiest picture of the Central American country's mobile broadband market. Historically our analysis has shown that 3G and 4G speeds in Costa Rica are slow and LTE's reach is limited in comparison to other Latin American countries. But we're starting to see some operators buck those trends. Kölbi's recent 4G network upgrades have caused its LTE download speeds to skyrocket in our measurements. Meanwhile Movistar continues to maintain its strong position in our 4G availability chart as the only operator to provide our users with a 4G signal more than 70% of the time.

For this report, OpenSignal has partnered with Costa Rican regulator Sutel to analyze more than 117 million measurements collected from 10,783 devices between Aug. 1 and Oct. 29, 2018. We compared the 3G and 4G results from Costa Rica's three principle mobile network operators América Móvil's Claro, Grupo ICE's Kölbi and Telefónica's Movistar to see how each fared.

For the second report in a row, Kölbi's 4G download speed increased sizably in our measurements. Our analysis shows Kölbi's average LTE connection of 20.6 Mbps was nearly 10 Mbps faster than either of its competitors' averages. Early this year, Kölbi began implementing LTE-Advanced upgrades and those efforts are definitely paying off. In the space of 12 months Kölbi's 4G download speeds have more than doubled in our measurements.

4G download wasn't the only area Kölbi excelled in. It won three of our four speed awards, and even managed to draw with Movistar in our 3G download category. In 4G upload speed, we saw a much closer contest than in download speed, with Kölbi leading Claro by little more than a megabit in our results. In our overall download speed category, however, Kölbi was again the clear-cut winner. Its download average of 12.5 Mbps was twice as fast as its nearest rival Movistar's average in our analysis.

In 4G availability, we didn't see much movement in our metrics, leaving Movistar the uncontested winner of the category. The Telefónica subsidiary provided an LTE signal to our users 70.4% of the time, and is still the only operator to have exceeded the 70% 4G availability mark in our measurements. Kölbi came in second with a 4G availability score of 63.2%, and it has shown incremental improvements over the past year, but Claro was a distant last in our results with a score of 46.3%. Operators with 4G availability results below 50% are typically in the early stages of their LTE rollouts, but Claro's 4G networks are hardly young. It first launched 4G services in 2014, and after more than four years we would expect its LTE reach to be higher.

In our final category of metrics, latency, Movistar and Kölbi split our two awards. Kölbi won our 4G latency category with an average network response time of 43.5 milliseconds, while Movistar won our 3G latency category with a response time of 72.6ms.

For the time being at least, Kölbi and Movistar look secure in their leads in our respective 4G download speed and 4G availability metrics. But there are signs of LTE improvements on the horizon, especially in speed. Claro completed LTE-Advanced upgrades in 20 cities in June, while Movistar announced similar 4G network enhancements in September. As those improvements spread across the country in 2019, we could very well see Movistar and Claro start closing the now considerable gaps between themselves and Kölbi in 4G speed.

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, 117,576,796 datapoints were collected from 10,783 users during the period: 2018-08-01 - 2018-10-29.

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.