Japan

Mobile Network Experience Report
October 2019

Opensignal Active Userbase in Japan
Total Devices
358,228
Total Measurements
856,239,500
Data Collection Period
Jun 01 Aug 29, 2019

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Ian Fogg VP Analysis

Key findings

au edges out Softbank to win Download Speed Experience

With download speeds of 33.6 Mbps experienced by our users on au, the operator is slightly ahead of the 32.2 Mbps enjoyed by our users on SoftBank. The Download Speed Experience of all three operators compares well with operators in other countries with similar market maturity.

Japan has excellent 4G Availability

While KDDI's au takes Opensignal's award this time for 4G Availability — the proportion of time our users spend connected to 4G — with 96.8% availability the operator is only slightly ahead of NTT DoCoMo's score of 96.2%. Third-placed SoftBank's users' experience is behind by less than 2 percentage points with 94.6%.

SoftBank's win in Video Experience demonstrates great speed does not guarantee great video

While our users on SoftBank experienced slower download speeds than users on au, SoftBank won Opensignal's unique Video Experience award with a score of 71.1 indicating a Very Good mobile video experience compared with 67.2 for au and 63.4 for NTT DoCoMo. Video data traffic is often managed separately by operators compared with other data traffic which is one reason for the different result in Opensignal's Download Speed Experience and Video Experience awards.

Voice App Experience is uniformly Good across Japan's operators

Opensignal's new Voice App Experience assesses the perceived quality of voice communication apps such as WhatsApp, LINE, Skype or Facebook Messenger. In Japan, there is nothing to split the three operators, on a 1 - 100 scale, just 0.3 separates the scores experienced by our users on each network.

SoftBank comfortably wins the Latency Experience award

Latency is a measure of the responsiveness of mobile networks, with lower scores indicating less delay in users' requests for web pages or for communication of game conditions in multiplayer online games. Our users on SoftBank experienced latency of just 37.4ms compared with 44ms on au and 49.3ms on NTT DoCoMo.

Introduction

Japan's mobile users enjoy a strong mobile network experience compared with many other countries. But in our latest report on Japan, Opensignal has identified significant differences in the experience of our users on each major network.

With the planned launch of 5G in 2020, Japan's users should see a major leap ahead in their experience as well as new network choices with Rakuten's launch as a fourth network operator, first with its own 4G infrastructure, then likely just months later using 5G. Japan's operators hold large 5G spectrum holdings which should enable them to offer extremely fast speeds and a large increase in the time Japanese users will be able to spend streaming mobile video without suffering stalling or other issues.

On the eve of these major market changes, this Opensignal report analyzes the mobile network experience strength of each of Japan's existing mobile network operators.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, Japan
October 2019, Japan Report
4G Availability
Video Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
Latency Experience
Download Image
Mobile Experience Awards Winners
October 2019, Japan
4G Availability
Video Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
Latency Experience
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
October 2019, Japan
Voice App Experience
Download Image

Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
4G Availability
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
96.2
SoftBank
94.6
au
96.8
0 25 50 75 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

National Analysis

4G Availability

4G is ubiquitous in Japan. The time users spend connected to 4G, or 4G Availability, is a critical measure in many countries because 4G technology is superior to 3G in almost every way and therefore enables a far superior experience. In Japan, our users spend almost all of their time connected to 4G when they are connected to mobile networks. While KDDI's au wins our award for 4G Availability this time, there are just 2.2 percentage points difference between Japan's three mobile network operators.

4G Availability
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
96.2
SoftBank
94.6
au
96.8
0 25 50 75 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Video Experience

SoftBank wins Video Experience, but there is room for improvement in video. All Japan's operators need to improve if they are to achieve the top Excellent rating which would allow them to differentiate their service from their rival operators. Our users on both au and SoftBank enjoy a Very Good Video Experience with scores of 67.2 and 71.1 respectively (on a 1 - 100 point scale), but users on NTT DoCoMo have only a Good experience with a score of 63.4.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
63.4
SoftBank
71.1
au
67.2
Poor Fair Good Very Good Excellent
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Video Experience
Supporting Metrics
in 0-100 points
4G Video Experience
64.6 (± 0.26) 73.0 (± 0.42) 67.7 (± 0.31)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Video Experience in 0-100 points
65 (± 0.26)
73 (± 0.42)
68 (± 0.31)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Voice App Experience

Voice App Experience across all operators falls in the Good category with a three way draw in Opensignal's new experience award. Japan has been one of the leaders in communication apps with LINE being a ubiquitous part of life for users across the country. Like Video Experience, real-time voice communication has specific characteristics which need to be measured directly and not guessed from speed tests. Opensignal's Voice App Experience assesses our users' perception of voice quality across mobile networks.

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.3
SoftBank
81.6
au
81.4
Impossible to communicate Unintelligible Very Poor Poor Acceptable Good Very Good Excellent
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Voice App Experience
Supporting Metrics
in 0-100 points
4G Voice App Experience
82.0 (± 0.20) 81.9 (± 0.62) 81.5 (± 0.39)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Voice App Experience in 0-100 points
82 (± 0.20)
82 (± 0.62)
82 (± 0.39)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Download Speed Experience

Similarly to the findings in our last report on Japan, au wins the award for Download Speed Experience. But it's a tight race with our users on SoftBank experiencing speeds just 1.4 Mbps slower than the 33.6 Mbps experienced by our users on au.

But au's win in Download Speed Experience has failed to translate into a win in Video Experience which proves again it's essential to directly measure video streaming separately from a test of file download speed.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
27.4
SoftBank
32.2
au
33.6
0 8.75 17.5 26.25 35
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Download Speed
28.4 (± 0.24) 34.1 (± 0.49) 34.0 (± 0.34)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Download Speed in Mbps
28 (± 0.24)
34 (± 0.49)
34 (± 0.34)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Upload Speed Experience

Upload speed is often a forgotten measure but it's a critical part of the mobile network experience when users wish to share files, photos or videos. Japan has long had a love affair with photography of all types: from purikura stickers to the numerous camera manufacturers based in Japan like Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, and Fujifilm. Sony is also the leading supplier of imaging sensors for most makes of smartphones.

SoftBank wins Opensignal's Upload Speed award with 8.9 Mbps. Our users on NTT DoCoMo experienced nearly as fast upload speeds of 8.1 Mbps but despite winning both 4G Availability and Download Speed Experience au ranked last with just 6.6 Mbps average upload speed.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.1
SoftBank
8.9
au
6.6
0 2.5 5 7.5 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Upload Speed
8.4 (± 0.06) 9.5 (± 0.15) 6.7 (± 0.07)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Upload Speed in Mbps
8 (± 0.06)
9 (± 0.15)
7 (± 0.07)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Latency Experience

Latency is a measure of network responsiveness. The shorter the time, measured in milliseconds, the more responsive the mobile user experience. It's a critical measure that underpins numerous online and mobile activities. Any application which needs real-time communication like multiplayer online games or video chat needs a good latency. Also, simple web browsing benefits at least as much from good latency as it does from fast speeds because a single web page includes many files each of which a users' web browser application must request separately from the server.

During the 4G era, new versions of 4G technology have helped operators improve the latency users experience. With 5G's arrival next year in Japan, latency should improve significantly over the current experience. SoftBank wins Opensignal's latency award this time, but there is everything to play for in the coming months.

Latency Experience
in ms The lower the figure the better the latency
NTT DoCoMo
49.3
SoftBank
37.4
au
44.0
0 12.5 25 37.5 50
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Latency Experience
Supporting Metrics
in ms
4G Latency
46.9 (± 0.17) 36.2 (± 0.25) 43.3 (± 0.14)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Latency in ms
47 (± 0.17)
36 (± 0.25)
43 (± 0.14)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Regional Analysis

Across six cities Opensignal has analyzed for this report, we see significant differences in the position of Japan's operators.

In Tokyo, au wins two awards and SoftBank wins three. Yet in nearby Yokohama, both au and SoftBank win just one award each indicating a much more competitive market.

In Kawasaki, Nagoya, Osaka and Saitama the only operator to move ahead of the pack is Softbank. No other operator wins a single award this time.

Select any region below to display individual breakdown

Kawasaki

4G Availability
in Kawasaki
in %
NTT DoCoMo
97.0
SoftBank
96.3
au
98.2
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Video Experience
in Kawasaki
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
63.0
SoftBank
72.3
au
67.0
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Kawasaki
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
25.0
SoftBank
28.4
au
33.1
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
in Kawasaki
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.2
SoftBank
8.2
au
6.0
Download Image
Latency Experience
in Kawasaki
in ms
NTT DoCoMo
45.6
SoftBank
32.2
au
41.6
Download Image

Nagoya

4G Availability
in Nagoya
in %
NTT DoCoMo
96.3
SoftBank
94.7
au
97.4
Download Image
Video Experience
in Nagoya
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
65.2
SoftBank
77.0
au
69.4
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Nagoya
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
31.4
SoftBank
42.6
au
41.8
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Upload Speed Experience
in Nagoya
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
9.8
SoftBank
10.6
au
7.2
Download Image
Latency Experience
in Nagoya
in ms
NTT DoCoMo
46.1
SoftBank
34.3
au
43.5
Download Image

Osaka

4G Availability
in Osaka
in %
NTT DoCoMo
97.5
SoftBank
95.6
au
98.4
Download Image
Video Experience
in Osaka
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
60.6
SoftBank
71.2
au
68.1
Download Image
Voice App Experience
in Osaka
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.5
SoftBank
84.8
au
81.0
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Osaka
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
23.8
SoftBank
32.2
au
36.0
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
in Osaka
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.6
SoftBank
9.5
au
6.3
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Latency Experience
in Osaka
in ms
NTT DoCoMo
45.2
SoftBank
36.6
au
43.3
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Saitama

4G Availability
in Saitama
in %
NTT DoCoMo
97.4
SoftBank
95.5
au
99.7
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Video Experience
in Saitama
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
65.4
SoftBank
71.7
au
67.0
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Download Speed Experience
in Saitama
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
26.5
SoftBank
29.0
au
33.8
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Upload Speed Experience
in Saitama
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.5
SoftBank
8.1
au
5.9
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Latency Experience
in Saitama
in ms
NTT DoCoMo
49.0
SoftBank
30.1
au
42.5
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Tokyo

4G Availability
in Tokyo
in %
NTT DoCoMo
96.5
SoftBank
95.7
au
97.5
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Video Experience
in Tokyo
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
62.7
SoftBank
72.2
au
67.7
Download Image
Voice App Experience
in Tokyo
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.6
SoftBank
82.6
au
82.5
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Tokyo
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
25.8
SoftBank
34.3
au
36.9
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
in Tokyo
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.4
SoftBank
9.4
au
6.1
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Latency Experience
in Tokyo
in ms
NTT DoCoMo
45.6
SoftBank
32.0
au
40.7
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Yokohama

4G Availability
in Yokohama
in %
NTT DoCoMo
96.5
SoftBank
97.0
au
97.8
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Video Experience
in Yokohama
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
62.7
SoftBank
70.3
au
68.5
Download Image
Voice App Experience
in Yokohama
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
80.6
SoftBank
82.9
au
80.9
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Yokohama
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
26.2
SoftBank
31.4
au
35.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Yokohama
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.1
SoftBank
8.8
au
5.9
Download Image
Latency Experience
in Yokohama
in ms
NTT DoCoMo
47.9
SoftBank
35.0
au
41.1
Download Image
Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

More about Methodology

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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