Japan

Mobile Network Experience Report
April 2020

Opensignal Active Userbase in Japan
Total Devices
333,336
Total Measurements
2,206,079,950
Data Collection Period
Dec 01 Feb 28, 2020

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

Softbank wins the Video Experience award but all operators rate as Excellent

In Opensignal’s unique real-world measure of mobile video experience, SoftBank’s users enjoyed a Video Experience score of 80.4 on our 0-100 point scale, slightly ahead of KDDI au’s score of 77.5 and NTT DoCoMo's 77.0. These scores place Japan’s operators in the top tier globally with few operators in other countries achieving such heights.

DoCoMo is top for Download Speed Experience with users’ average speeds of 52.7 Mbps

Speed is no guarantee of a great video experience because operators manage video streams differently from other kinds of data and video requires a sustained performance. While SoftBank was top for Video Experience, it ranked third in Download Speed Experience with its users seeing average speeds of 42.7 Mbps, compared with 48.1 Mbps for au and DoCoMo's 52.7 Mbps.

Softbank and DoCoMo are leaders when it comes to uploading photos and videos

While NTT DoCoMo edges out Softbank to win Opensignal’s Upload Experience award with a speed of 10.3 Mbps, Softbank users saw an experience just 0.3 Mbps slower. However, au lagged behind in third place with 8.2 Mbps, meaning its users will find sharing media or sending emails a more frustrating experience.

au sees the highest time connected to 4G, winning the 4G Availability award

In Japan, 4G is now almost ubiquitous: Users across all operators experience time connected to 4G the majority of the time, with scores ranging from SoftBank’s 97.8% to au’s near perfect 99.0%. However, DoCoMo won the award for 4G Coverage Experience. With 5G about to launch, it will be important to see how widely available Japan’s operators extend 5G Availability during 2020.

SoftBank users see the most responsive mobile experience

The Latency Experience award has been won by SoftBank with a score of 36.2ms — over 5ms faster than DoCoMo’s 42.4ms and au’s 44.3ms. Latency is important for a range of mobile applications, including multiplayer online gaming and web browsing.

Introduction

Japan has long ranked high in mobile innovation globally and for the quality of the mobile network experience users enjoy. In a recent report, Japan ranked third out of one hundred countries for the mobile Games Experience enjoyed by users. That is not an isolated success. In all of Opensignal's measures in this latest analysis of the Japanese market, Japan’s users enjoy a first rate mobile network experience.

The launch of 5G is imminent in Japan, with operators aiming to launch in March and April 2020. While not among the first countries to offer 5G, Japan’s operators will aim to be among the fastest because they hold large quantities of new 5G-suitable spectrum, which adds enormous capacity. In Japan, each operator holds at least 100Mhz of prime mid-band spectrum — which is extremely rare in other countries — as well as additional millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum holding that offers even faster speeds. To date, mmWave-based 5G services have only launched in the U.S. where speeds have been extremely fast.

Also, Japan's mobile situation is undergoing fast-paced change at the moment with the entry of a new operator, Rakuten, which is making the transition from a mobile virtual network operator to a full player in the market with its own network, spectrum, and infrastructure. Rakuten launches too late for inclusion in this report. But Rakuten's launch will put Japan into the global spotlight because of Rakuten’s technology and business approach. The company is using different types of vendors and a modern, virtualized and more open network technology architecture. And Rakuten has announced disruptive pricing plans with unlimited data for users when connected to its new network, although limits apply when outside of Rakuten's network coverage. This means it will be important for Rakuten, and their users' experience, to extend coverage of the Rakuten network widely across Japan.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, Japan
April 2020, Japan Report
Video Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
Latency Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
April 2020, Japan
Video Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
Latency Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
April 2020, Japan
Voice App Experience
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
Video Experience
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
77.0
SoftBank
80.3
au
77.5
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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National Analysis

Video Experience

SoftBank wins the award for mobile Video Experience, ahead of au and DoCoMo. But users on all three operators rate as Excellent, the highest category in Opensignal’s Video Experience measure.

Video Experience involves measuring real-world video streams and uses an ITU-based approach for determining video quality which takes into account picture quality, video loading time and stall rate into account. The scale is 0-100, with scores above 75 rating as Excellent.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
77.0
SoftBank
80.3
au
77.5
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
77.3 (± 0.17) 80.6 (± 0.21) 77.5 (± 0.16)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Video Experience in 0-100 points
77 (± 0.17)
81 (± 0.21)
78 (± 0.16)
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

Voice App Experience

It’s a close race for the Voice App Experience award with the three operators just 0.3 apart on our one hundred point scale. Users on all the operators enjoy a Good experience, indicating there is still room for improvement to hit Very Good or Excellent. Opensignal's award is shared in a statistical tie between DoCoMo and SoftBank.

Voice App Experience measures the experience of over-the-top (OTT) voice services in mobile apps such as LINE, WhatsApp, Skype or Facebook Messenger. The ITU-based model characterizes the relationship between technical measurements and users' perceived voice quality. Voice App Experience uses a 0 to 100 point scale, with higher values indicating a superior experience.

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
83.6
SoftBank
83.8
au
83.5
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
83.8 (± 0.06) 84.0 (± 0.13) 83.5 (± 0.09)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Voice App Experience in 0-100 points
84 (± 0.06)
84 (± 0.13)
83 (± 0.09)
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

Download Speed Experience

There's a clear margin separating first and second place in our Download Speed Experience category. DoCoMo users enjoyed average speeds 4.6 Mbps faster than second placed au, and an impressive 10 Mbps faster than users connecting with Softbank.

This mobile network experience will continue to be important as 5G launches, because initial 5G roll outs continue to rely on the 4G network. With the initial non-standalone access (NSA) 5G technology, a 5G smartphone will connect to both one or more 4G signals and a 5G signal at the same time and combine the throughput from all of them to achieve an overall download speed capability. As a result, a faster 4G network provides a stronger foundation, and a head start for offering even higher 5G speeds.

Also, operators typically upgrade the capacity of the connections they place into each 5G cell tower location — often called the backhaul — to support higher 5G speeds, but this added capacity also benefits 4G users.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
52.7
SoftBank
42.7
au
48.1
0 13.75 27.5 41.25 55
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Download Speed
53.3 (± 0.34) 43.7 (± 0.41) 48.1 (± 0.30)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Download Speed in Mbps
53 (± 0.34)
44 (± 0.41)
48 (± 0.30)
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

Upload Speed Experience

The upload speeds users experience are significantly slower than for download, ranging from approximately one quarter to one fifth of the download speed. However, where there was a clear margin for the winner in Download Speed Experience, in Upload Speed Experience SoftBank users experience almost as fast speeds as do DoCoMo’s users.

Strikingly, au users' Upload Experience slips from the second placed position for Download Speed Experience into third placed here, lagging behind SoftBank and DoCoMo users’ speeds. The two leaders see the Upload Speed Experience of their users are over 20% faster than au.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
10.3
SoftBank
10.0
au
8.2
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Upload Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Upload Speed
10.4 (± 0.07) 10.2 (± 0.10) 8.2 (± 0.06)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Upload Speed in Mbps
10 (± 0.07)
10 (± 0.10)
8 (± 0.06)
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

Latency Experience

Softbank has a clear win in Latency Experience with its users having a score of 36.2ms, or 6.2ms faster than DoCoMo and 8.1ms faster than au’s users. This more responsive mobile network experience is important for web browsing because each web page is composed of many files; each one will be separately requested by a smartphone’s web browser app, meaning that each request will see a delay based on the real-world latency.

Latency is also an important characteristic for online multiplayer gaming where it is often called ping. With the rise of battle royale games like Knives Out or PUBG Mobile, as well as the ongoing success of massive online battle arena (MOBA) games like Arena of Valor on smartphones, latency is important.

Latency Experience
in ms The lower the figure the better the latency
NTT DoCoMo
42.4
SoftBank
36.2
au
44.3
0 11.25 22.5 33.75 45
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Latency Experience
Supporting Metrics
in ms
4G Latency
41.7 (± 0.09) 35.7 (± 0.14) 44.3 (± 0.09)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Latency in ms
42 (± 0.09)
36 (± 0.14)
44 (± 0.09)
Mobile Network Experience Report | April 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

4G Availability

While 5G launches in Japan in 2020, it will take time for Japan's operators to extend 5G networks across the country. Additionally, initial 5G services using non-standalone access require there to be a 4G connection available at the same time for 5G to work. For these reasons, 4G will remain the foundation for the Japanese mobile experience for the next year at least.

4G Availability represents the proportion of time users spend connected to 4G network. All three operators see very high levels of 4G Availability. But au edges in front and narrowly wins Opensignal’s 4G Availability award in this report.
4G Availability
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.5
SoftBank
97.8
au
99.0
0 25 50 75 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Coverage Experience

4G Coverage Experience
in 0-10 points
NTT DoCoMo
9.7
SoftBank
8.3
au
9.1
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Regional Analysis

Across Japan’s cities we see results that differ from the national picture, which is unsurprising given the size of the country and the large urban areas.

In Tokyo au wins the Download Speed Experience ahead of national winner DoCoMo because au Tokyo users saw a faster speed, while DoCoMo users saw speeds 2.6 Mbps slower than the national result. Also, SoftBank wins Voice App Experience in the capital, where nationally it shares the award with DoCoMo.

In Osaka, we also see differences from the national result with DoCoMo jointly winning the award for 4G Availability with au, where nationally au wins it outright. But au picks up Osaka’s Download Speed Experience from national winner DoCoMo, while in Nagoya DoCoMo holds onto both the awards for Download and Upload Speed Experience.

Ancient capital Kyoto, sees ties on most metrics, which is again a very different picture to Opensignal’s national results. Here, the only outright win is for Latency Experience, where SoftBank wins the award.

Select any region below to display individual breakdown

Fukuoka

Video Experience
in Fukuoka
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
80.9
NTT DoCoMo
77.5
au
78.7
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Voice App Experience
in Fukuoka
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
84.5
NTT DoCoMo
83.8
au
84.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Fukuoka
in Mbps
SoftBank
52.4
NTT DoCoMo
60.4
au
51.3
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Upload Speed Experience
in Fukuoka
in Mbps
SoftBank
12.0
NTT DoCoMo
10.2
au
8.6
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Latency Experience
in Fukuoka
in ms
SoftBank
43.2
NTT DoCoMo
42.1
au
37.8
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4G Availability
in Fukuoka
in %
SoftBank
97.9
NTT DoCoMo
98.4
au
98.7
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Kawasaki

Video Experience
in Kawasaki
in 0-100 points
au
76.9
SoftBank
80.8
NTT DoCoMo
76.0
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Voice App Experience
in Kawasaki
in 0-100 points
au
83.4
SoftBank
84.1
NTT DoCoMo
83.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Kawasaki
in Mbps
au
47.8
SoftBank
40.2
NTT DoCoMo
51.9
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Upload Speed Experience
in Kawasaki
in Mbps
au
7.3
SoftBank
8.6
NTT DoCoMo
10.4
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Latency Experience
in Kawasaki
in ms
au
41.4
SoftBank
32.6
NTT DoCoMo
39.3
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4G Availability
in Kawasaki
in %
au
99.4
SoftBank
96.7
NTT DoCoMo
98.7
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Kobe

Video Experience
in Kobe
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
83.2
NTT DoCoMo
76.9
au
76.2
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Voice App Experience
in Kobe
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
84.8
NTT DoCoMo
83.8
au
83.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Kobe
in Mbps
SoftBank
48.6
NTT DoCoMo
54.1
au
47.6
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Upload Speed Experience
in Kobe
in Mbps
SoftBank
11.0
NTT DoCoMo
11.1
au
7.3
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Latency Experience
in Kobe
in ms
SoftBank
37.9
NTT DoCoMo
37.1
au
45.4
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4G Availability
in Kobe
in %
SoftBank
96.4
NTT DoCoMo
98.3
au
99.2
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Kyoto

Video Experience
in Kyoto
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
76.8
SoftBank
80.4
au
78.1
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Voice App Experience
in Kyoto
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
83.0
SoftBank
84.2
au
83.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Kyoto
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
51.8
SoftBank
41.7
au
52.1
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Upload Speed Experience
in Kyoto
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
10.2
SoftBank
9.7
au
8.5
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Latency Experience
in Kyoto
in ms
NTT DoCoMo
39.0
SoftBank
34.6
au
44.5
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4G Availability
in Kyoto
in %
NTT DoCoMo
98.4
SoftBank
97.1
au
98.9
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Nagoya

Video Experience
in Nagoya
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
82.8
NTT DoCoMo
77.8
au
79.0
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Voice App Experience
in Nagoya
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
84.7
NTT DoCoMo
83.7
au
83.7
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Download Speed Experience
in Nagoya
in Mbps
SoftBank
52.7
NTT DoCoMo
71.0
au
57.3
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Upload Speed Experience
in Nagoya
in Mbps
SoftBank
11.0
NTT DoCoMo
12.0
au
8.0
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Latency Experience
in Nagoya
in ms
SoftBank
34.0
NTT DoCoMo
38.6
au
46.1
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4G Availability
in Nagoya
in %
SoftBank
97.6
NTT DoCoMo
98.7
au
99.5
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Osaka

Video Experience
in Osaka
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
81.0
NTT DoCoMo
77.3
au
78.1
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Voice App Experience
in Osaka
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
83.9
NTT DoCoMo
83.6
au
84.2
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Download Speed Experience
in Osaka
in Mbps
SoftBank
46.3
NTT DoCoMo
50.6
au
56.6
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Upload Speed Experience
in Osaka
in Mbps
SoftBank
9.9
NTT DoCoMo
10.9
au
7.9
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Latency Experience
in Osaka
in ms
SoftBank
35.2
NTT DoCoMo
37.7
au
44.8
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4G Availability
in Osaka
in %
SoftBank
97.2
NTT DoCoMo
99.0
au
99.2
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Saitama

Video Experience
in Saitama
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
81.7
NTT DoCoMo
77.4
au
77.4
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Voice App Experience
in Saitama
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
84.3
NTT DoCoMo
84.0
au
84.2
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Download Speed Experience
in Saitama
in Mbps
SoftBank
45.1
NTT DoCoMo
53.7
au
51.8
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Upload Speed Experience
in Saitama
in Mbps
SoftBank
9.9
NTT DoCoMo
10.4
au
7.4
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Latency Experience
in Saitama
in ms
SoftBank
30.1
NTT DoCoMo
41.2
au
44.6
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4G Availability
in Saitama
in %
SoftBank
98.0
NTT DoCoMo
99.0
au
99.2
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Sapporo

Video Experience
in Sapporo
in 0-100 points
au
77.9
SoftBank
80.6
NTT DoCoMo
75.5
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Voice App Experience
in Sapporo
in 0-100 points
au
84.1
SoftBank
84.1
NTT DoCoMo
84.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Sapporo
in Mbps
au
51.0
SoftBank
50.5
NTT DoCoMo
64.1
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Upload Speed Experience
in Sapporo
in Mbps
au
10.3
SoftBank
10.3
NTT DoCoMo
11.4
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Latency Experience
in Sapporo
in ms
au
53.8
SoftBank
43.9
NTT DoCoMo
57.4
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4G Availability
in Sapporo
in %
au
99.0
SoftBank
97.9
NTT DoCoMo
98.7
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Tokyo

Video Experience
in Tokyo
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
79.7
NTT DoCoMo
76.3
au
77.3
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Voice App Experience
in Tokyo
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
84.0
NTT DoCoMo
83.2
au
83.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Tokyo
in Mbps
SoftBank
44.9
NTT DoCoMo
50.1
au
52.0
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Upload Speed Experience
in Tokyo
in Mbps
SoftBank
9.7
NTT DoCoMo
10.3
au
7.5
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Latency Experience
in Tokyo
in ms
SoftBank
31.4
NTT DoCoMo
39.5
au
41.3
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4G Availability
in Tokyo
in %
SoftBank
97.5
NTT DoCoMo
98.4
au
99.0
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Yokohama

Video Experience
in Yokohama
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
81.5
NTT DoCoMo
76.3
au
77.3
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Voice App Experience
in Yokohama
in 0-100 points
SoftBank
84.1
NTT DoCoMo
83.5
au
83.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Yokohama
in Mbps
SoftBank
43.5
NTT DoCoMo
51.7
au
50.7
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Upload Speed Experience
in Yokohama
in Mbps
SoftBank
9.8
NTT DoCoMo
10.1
au
7.1
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Latency Experience
in Yokohama
in ms
SoftBank
30.8
NTT DoCoMo
40.7
au
40.9
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4G Availability
in Yokohama
in %
SoftBank
97.5
NTT DoCoMo
98.7
au
99.1
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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.

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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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