Mobile Network Experience Report New Zealand October 2020

New Zealand

Mobile Network Experience Report
October 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
Sam Fenwick Senior Analyst

Key findings

2degrees dominates our experiential metrics

Our 2degrees users were the only ones to observe an improvement in their Video Experience since our last report and when the dust settled, 2degrees was ahead of second-placed Spark by 1.9 points. In addition, 2degrees has won the Games Experience award outright, as its score fell by less than those of its rivals. 2degrees has also done well in terms of Voice App Experience — while the award is still won jointly by two operators, 2degrees has replaced Vodafone and statistically tied with Spark. At the city-level, 2degrees won outright on Video Experience in Wellington, and was a joint winner for this metric in Auckland and Christchurch; it also was a joint winner in all three cities for both Games Experience and Voice App Experience.

Spark performs strongly at the city-level

Spark did very well when we analyzed the mobile network experience in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington across six of our metrics, winning the most awards both outright and jointly. The operator won the Download Speed Experience award outright in Wellington with a score of 61.5 Mbps and was the sole operator to win the 4G Availability award in Christchurch, with our users on its network spending an impressive 94.4% of their time connected to 4G. Spark also was a joint winner for a further 15 awards.

Vodafone narrows the gap on Download Speed Experience

While Spark has now won our Download Speed Experience award across two consecutive reports, second-placed Vodafone has more than halved its margin of victory. In our last report, the difference between the two operators’ scores was an impressive 6.5 Mbps (19.1%), but this time round it has narrowed to 3 Mbps (7.8%). This is due to a 4 Mbps increase in the average overall speeds observed by our Vodafone users, while Spark’s score rose by only 0.5 Mbps. It is worth noting that Vodafone wasn’t the only operator on which our users observed a significant boost to their Download Speed Experience. Our 2degrees users saw theirs rise by 3.5 Mbps (11.6%).

2degrees pushes further ahead on Upload Speed Experience, but a push by Vodafone has made the fight for second-place too close to call

2degrees has extended its lead on Upload Speed Experience from the 0.9 Mbps (9.5%) in our last report to at least 1.3 Mbps (14.4%). The average overall upload speeds seen by our 2degrees users rose by 0.7 Mbps (6.9%), while Spark — which placed second in our last report — saw its score fall by 0.1 Mbps (0.8%). However, our Vodafone users saw their Upload Speed Experience improve by 1.3 Mbps (16.4%), allowing it to statistically tie with Spark for second-place.

Vodafone users see great progress on 4G Availability

While Vodafone is still in last place nationally in terms of the proportion of time that our users on its network spent connected to 4G services, it has seen its score rise by an impressive 6.7 percentage points since our last report, from 72% as reported back in April to 78.7%. As a result, the gap between Vodafone and second-placed Spark has shrunk from 13.1 percentage points to 8.2, despite a 1.8 percentage point improvement in Spark’s score. While 2degrees has retained the 4G Availability award, the fact that its score improved by the least — 1.1 percentage points — has meant that its lead has declined by 0.7 percentage points to 2.1 percentage points.

Introduction

Back in April, in our inaugural New Zealand mobile network experience report, none of our three experiential metrics were won outright, with Spark and 2degrees tying on Video Experience, while Spark and Vodafone were dead-locked on Games Experience and Voice App Experience. This time around, all but one of these ties have been broken with 2degrees winning both the Video Experience and Games Experience awards outright. In addition, while there are still two joint winners for the Voice App Experience award, the award is now shared between 2degrees and Spark, with the former replacing Vodafone.

While our other awards remain in the same hands as last time, there have been some big changes in these measures of the mobile experience. For example, Vodafone has cut Spark’s lead on Download Speed Experience to less than half of what it was back in our April report, thanks to a 4 Mbps increase in the average overall speeds observed by our Vodafone users, while Spark’s score rose by only 0.5 Mbps. 2degrees’ Download Speed Experience score increased only slightly less than Vodafone’s with our users on its network seeing an increase of 3.5 Mbps.

Vodafone has also come a long way on 4G Availability since our last report, with our Vodafone users spending 78.7% of their time connected to 4G services, up from the 72% that was reported back in April — an increase of 6.7 percentage points since our last report. While the operator still has some way to go before it can challenge its peers in this measure of the mobile experience, if it can maintain this impressive rate of progress, it won’t be long before it can do so.

Some of the significant events in New Zealand’s mobile sector that have taken place since our last report include the news that Spark has launched 5G in Palmerston North and in the Auckland Viaduct area. Meanwhile Vodafone upgraded 124 mobile cell sites in the first six months of 2020, as part of a programme to prepare its towers for 5G. Finally, 2degrees announced a new infrastructure sharing agreement that will allow its spectrum to be used by a partner’s cell sites and the operator also confirmed that it is planning to build its own 5G network.

In this report, we’ve analyzed the mobile network experience provided by New Zealand’s three national operators — Vodafone, Spark and 2degrees — at the national level in the 90 days starting July, 1, 2020. We have used 5G measurements in addition to those from previous generations of mobile network technology when determining the overall scores for each metric.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, New Zealand
October 2020, New Zealand Report
Video Experience
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
October 2020, New Zealand
Video Experience
Games Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
October 2020, New Zealand
Voice App Experience
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
62.7
Spark
72.5
2degrees
74.5
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

Video Experience

Our 2degrees users were the only ones to observe an improvement in their Video Experience since our last report — a rise of 0.6 points to 74.5 points, while Spark’s score dropped by 0.7 points and Vodafone’s by 2.2 points. 2degrees’ score is 1.9 points (2.7%) ahead of second-placed Spark. None of the operators have changed category since our last report, with Spark and 2degrees holding onto their Very Good (65-75) ratings and Vodafone having to content itself with a Good (55-65) rating.

When we break down our users’ Video Experience by mobile network technology generation, both Spark and 2degrees have hung onto their Excellent (75 or above) ratings for 4G Video Experience and Vodafone has again placed in the Very Good category for this measure of the mobile experience — despite our users seeing falls of 1.6-2.9 points (2-3.6%) depending on their choice of operator. There was far more movement in terms of the 3G Video Experience, as Spark’s and 2degrees’ scores rose by 6.6 points (14.8%) and 7.6 points (16.7%), respectively; in contrast our Vodafone users saw their 3G Video Experience score fall by 5.9 points (10.2%). As a result, while in our last report Vodafone was the only operator with which our users observed a Good 3G Video Experience, this time around it joined its rivals in the Fair category.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
62.7
Spark
72.5
2degrees
74.5
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
66.1 (± 0.97) 76.1 (± 0.61) 77.9 (± 0.60)
3G Video Experience
52.0 (± 2.13) 50.8 (± 3.30) 53.0 (± 4.15)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Video Experience in 0-100 points
66 (± 0.97)
76 (± 0.61)
78 (± 0.60)
3G Video Experience in 0-100 points
52 (± 2.13)
51 (± 3.30)
53 (± 4.15)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

Games Experience

2degrees has won the Games Experience award outright — an achievement that is all the more impressive for the fact that it was the only operator not to tie for the award in our last report. The operator’s success has stemmed from resilience rather than growth, as its score fell by just 1.1 points compared with the declines of 6.5-6.7 points observed by our Spark and Vodafone users. Despite these declines, all three operators remained in the Fair category (65-75) for this measure of the mobile experience.

A Fair Games Experience means that our users found the experience to be “average”. In most cases the game was responsive to the actions of the player with most users reporting that they felt like they had control over the game.

Games Experience
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
66.9
Spark
68.4
2degrees
71.3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Games Experience
Supporting Metrics
in 0-100 points
4G Games Experience
74.9 (± 1.25) 73.4 (± 1.19) 77.7 (± 1.49)
3G Games Experience
43.0 (± 2.31) 40.6 (± 2.29) 38.9 (± 1.54)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Games Experience in 0-100 points
75 (± 1.25)
73 (± 1.19)
78 (± 1.49)
3G Games Experience in 0-100 points
43 (± 2.31)
41 (± 2.29)
39 (± 1.54)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

The Games Experience metric quantifies the experience when playing real-time multiplayer games on mobile devices connected to servers located around the world. The approach is built on several years of research quantifying the relationship between technical network parameters and the gaming experience as reported by real mobile users. Additionally, it considers multiple genres of multiplayer mobile games to measure the average sensitivity to network conditions. The games tested include some of the most popular real-time multiplayer mobile games — such as Fortnite, Pro Evolution Soccer and Arena of Valor — played around the world.

Voice App Experience

While the Voice App Experience award is still shared between two operators, Spark is the only one to tie for the award in both this and our previous report, with 2degrees knocking Vodafone out of contention. This switch occurred because the Voice App Experience observed by our 2degrees users fell by just one point, compared to the declines of 2.5-2.6 points that were seen by their Vodafone and Spark counterparts. All three operators have placed one category lower since our last report, falling from Good (80-87) to Acceptable (74-80).

Turning to our 4G and 3G Voice App Experience submetrics, while we saw falls across all three operators and on both submetrics — with 2degrees’ 3G Voice App Experience score being the only exception as it rose by 3 points — there was only one change in category, with a 3.3 point drop in Vodafone’s 3G Voice App Experience score pushing it down from Acceptable (74-80) to Poor (66-74), putting it in line with its rivals for this measure of the mobile experience.

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
78.6
Spark
79.3
2degrees
79.8
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
80.5 (± 0.56) 80.5 (± 0.51) 81.2 (± 0.60)
3G Voice App Experience
72.7 (± 1.12) 72.0 (± 1.22) 71.1 (± 1.50)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Voice App Experience in 0-100 points
80 (± 0.56)
81 (± 0.51)
81 (± 0.60)
3G Voice App Experience in 0-100 points
73 (± 1.12)
72 (± 1.22)
71 (± 1.50)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

Opensignal's Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience for over-the-top (OTT) voice services — mobile voice apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger etc. — using a model derived from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-based approach for quantifying overall voice call quality and a series of calibrated technical parameters. This model characterizes the exact relationship between the technical measurements and perceived call quality.

Download Speed Experience

Spark is once again the winner of the Download Speed Experience award. However, it cannot rest on its laurels given that second-placed Vodafone has more than halved its margin of victory. In our last report, the difference between the two operators’ scores was 6.5 Mbps (19.1%), but this time round it has narrowed to 3 Mbps (7.8%). This is due to a 4 Mbps increase in the average overall speeds observed by our Vodafone users, while Spark’s score rose by only 0.5 Mbps. Vodafone wasn’t the only operator on which our users observed a significant boost to their overall average download speeds — our 2degrees users saw theirs rise by 3.5 Mbps (11.6%).

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
Vodafone
37.9
Spark
40.9
2degrees
33.4
0 11.25 22.5 33.75 45
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Download Speed
47.3 (± 1.23) 46.2 (± 1.31) 37.3 (± 1.08)
3G Download Speed
8.1 (± 0.38) 8.8 (± 0.59) 9.1 (± 0.88)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Download Speed in Mbps
47 (± 1.23)
46 (± 1.31)
37 (± 1.08)
3G Download Speed in Mbps
8 (± 0.38)
9 (± 0.59)
9 (± 0.88)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

Upload Speed Experience

2degrees has now won our Upload Speed Experience over two consecutive reports. This time its score of 10.6 Mbps was at least 1.3 Mbps (14.4%) faster than that of its rivals, up from the gap of 0.9 Mbps (9.5%) seen in our last report. This was primarily driven by a 0.7 Mbps (6.9%) increase in our 2degrees users’ average overall upload speeds and 2degrees also benefited from a 0.1 Mbps drop in Spark’s score, as the latter placed second in our previous report. As our Vodafone users saw their Upload Speed Experience improve by 1.3 Mbps (16.4%), the operator was able to statistically tie with Spark for second-place.

Interestingly, 2degrees’ 3G Upload Speed score has risen from the 1.4 Mbps seen in our previous report to 3 Mbps, a gain of 1.6 Mbps (112.6%). In comparison, 2degrees’ 4G Upload Speed Experience score rose by only 0.2 Mbps (1.7%). We saw the reverse with Vodafone — its users observed their average 4G upload speeds rise by 0.8 Mbps (7.3%), while those on 3G fell by 0.1 Mbps (6.9)%. Spark’s 3G Upload Speed score rose by 0.6 Mbps (38.2%), while its 4G Upload Speed score fell by 0.4 Mbps (4.1%)

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
Vodafone
9.2
Spark
9.0
2degrees
10.6
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
11.8 (± 0.36) 10.1 (± 0.28) 11.8 (± 0.34)
3G Upload Speed
1.2 (± 0.07) 2.1 (± 0.23) 3.0 (± 0.35)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Limited
4G Upload Speed in Mbps
12 (± 0.36)
10 (± 0.28)
12 (± 0.34)
3G Upload Speed in Mbps
1 (± 0.07)
2 (± 0.23)
3 (± 0.35)
Mobile Network Experience Report | October 2020 | © Opensignal Inc.

4G Availability

2degrees continued to reign in terms of 4G Availability, as its score of 89% beat that of second-placed Spark by 2.1 percentage points. However this was down from the gap of 2.8 percentage points that existed between the two operators’ scores in our previous report. 2degrees’ diminishing lead was driven by its score increasing by 1.1 percentage points compared to the 1.8 percentage point gain seen by our Spark users. However, both operators’ recent accomplishments in this area were far behind the massive 6.7 percentage point increase in Vodafone’s 4G Availability score. As a result of this improvement, what was a 13.1 percentage point gulf between Vodafone and second-placed Spark’s score has narrowed to 8.2 points. While Vodafone’s score remains below the 80% mark, if it can keep up this pace of improvement over the next couple of reports, then Spark and 2degrees might have a fight on their hands.

4G Availability
% of time
Vodafone
78.7
Spark
86.8
2degrees
89.0
0 22.5 45 67.5 90
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Our 4G Availability metric shows the proportion of time users with a 4G device and subscription have an LTE connection. When we report an average 4G availability of 75%, that means our LTE users were, on average, connected to LTE services on their network 75% of the time.

Availability is not a measure of coverage or the geographic extent of a network. It won’t tell you whether you are likely to get coverage if you plan to visit a far flung region that is off the beaten track. Instead, it measures what proportion of time people have a network connection, in the places they most commonly frequent, something often missed by traditional coverage metrics.

4G Coverage Experience

All three operators have made modest progress on 4G Coverage Experience since our last report, with our Vodafone and 2degrees users seeing their scores rise by 0.2 points, while Spark saw its score increase by just 0.1 points. Given this lack of movement, it is perhaps unsurprising to see that Spark remains the winner of the 4G Coverage Experience award, though its lead has shrunk slightly — from 0.7 points down to 0.6 points.

4G Coverage Experience
in 0-10 points
Vodafone
8.6
Spark
9.2
2degrees
8.1
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Opensignal’s 4G Coverage Experience metric is a measure of how mobile subscribers experience 4G coverage on an operator’s network. Measured on a scale of 0-10, it analyzes the locations where customers of a network operator received a 4G signal relative to the locations visited by users of all network operators.

In simple terms,4G Coverage Experience measures the mobile coverage experience in all the locations that matter most to everyday users — i.e. all the places where they live, work and travel. It considers all the areas that Opensignal users visit, the portion of locations that 4G is available to them, and locations that more users visit have higher importance to them.

Regional Analysis

Turning to our first analysis of the mobile network experience in three of New Zealand’s largest cities, the competition was so fierce that outright wins were few and far between. Spark racked up two outright wins — one for Download Speed Experience in Wellington and one for 4G Availability in Christchurch — along with 15 draws. 2degrees only won outright for Video Experience in Wellington, but it was a joint winner for 13 city-level awards, while Vodafone failed to win any awards outright but notched up 10 joint winner awards, which included three-way ties across all three cities and all three operators for Games Experience and Voice App Experience.

Our Spark users in Wellington observed the fastest average overall download speeds at the city-level, clocking in at a blisteringly fast 61.5 Mbps, while our 2degrees users in Wellington had the best Video Experience across all three cities and all three operators, with a score of 78.8 out of 100. In all three cities, our 2degrees and Spark users observed an Excellent Video Experience — our highest rating for this metric. Their Vodafone counterparts gave their experience in Wellington and Auckland a Very Good rating, while those in Christchurch had to content themselves with a Good rating.

A similar story could be seen with Voice App Experience — both Spark and 2degrees picked up Good ratings in all three cities. However, Vodafone placed in the Good category in both Christchurch and Wellington, but dropped down to an Acceptable rating in Auckland.

Moving onto the last of our experiential metrics — Games Experience — Spark and 2degrees each picked up two Good ratings, but in different cities — Auckland (both), Christchurch (2degrees) and Wellington (Spark). In all three cities our Vodafone users had a Fair Games Experience.

Select any region below to display individual breakdown

Auckland

Video Experience
in Auckland
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
67.7
Spark
75.7
2degrees
75.1
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Games Experience
in Auckland
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
73.0
Spark
76.8
2degrees
76.2
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Voice App Experience
in Auckland
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
79.5
Spark
80.5
2degrees
80.2
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Download Speed Experience
in Auckland
in Mbps
Vodafone
45.6
Spark
46.2
2degrees
33.0
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Upload Speed Experience
in Auckland
in Mbps
Vodafone
12.0
Spark
11.9
2degrees
12.1
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4G Availability
in Auckland
in %
Vodafone
86.3
Spark
93.5
2degrees
92.7
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Christchurch

Video Experience
in Christchurch
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
57.1
Spark
75.0
2degrees
75.3
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Games Experience
in Christchurch
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
74.4
Spark
74.6
2degrees
77.4
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Voice App Experience
in Christchurch
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
82.0
Spark
81.6
2degrees
81.6
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Download Speed Experience
in Christchurch
in Mbps
Vodafone
49.7
Spark
48.2
2degrees
40.3
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Upload Speed Experience
in Christchurch
in Mbps
Vodafone
10.5
Spark
11.1
2degrees
12.9
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4G Availability
in Christchurch
in %
Vodafone
86.0
Spark
94.4
2degrees
89.9
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Wellington

Video Experience
in Wellington
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
70.1
Spark
76.7
2degrees
78.8
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Games Experience
in Wellington
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
74.3
Spark
76.5
2degrees
73.4
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Voice App Experience
in Wellington
in 0-100 points
Vodafone
81.2
Spark
81.5
2degrees
80.6
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Download Speed Experience
in Wellington
in Mbps
Vodafone
43.5
Spark
61.5
2degrees
38.6
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Upload Speed Experience
in Wellington
in Mbps
Vodafone
11.7
Spark
12.2
2degrees
13.5
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4G Availability
in Wellington
in %
Vodafone
82.7
Spark
93.6
2degrees
92.8
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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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