In this report, we've analyzed our data gathered in the 90 days from the start of August 2020 to see how Russia’s four national operators — MegaFon, Tele2, Beeline and MTS — measure up.
Our users across all four operators have seen their average download speeds increase by 0.9-1.5 Mbps. Despite these improvements in average download speeds, MegaFon’s lead is essentially unchanged since our last report — clocking in at least 6.1 Mbps. These changes also mean that MTS has moved into second-place for Download Speed Experience, after being neck-and-neck with Beeline in our previous report. The changes in the overall download speeds seen by our users were driven by improvements in operators’ 4G Download Speed scores, with there being little change in average 3G download speeds.
Looking at our experiential metrics, our users have seen falls in their Video Experience and Voice App Experience since our last report across all four operators. There was one exception, namely our Tele2 users saw a 0.1 point improvement in their Video Experience. However, none of these declines caused any of the four operators to drop down a category for either measure of the mobile experience. As a result, MegaFon and Tele2 have stayed in the Very Good (65-75) category for Video Experience, while Beeline and MTS still have to make do with a Good (55-65) rating. For Voice App Experience, MegaFon, Tele2 and Beeline remain in the Acceptable (74-80) category, while MTS continues to have a Poor (66-74) rating.
Our users spent 2.7-4.6 percentage points less of their time connected to 4G services, when compared to our previous report. This is likely an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which in many countries has caused users to spend more time in different locations than they did before its onset. The fact that average download speeds actually increased, despite lower 4G Availability scores and operators’ Video Experience and Voice App Experience have fallen only slightly, is a testament to the resilience of the Russian mobile experience when faced with an unprecedented situation.
All four operators have also been busy increasing their coverage as our users saw their 4G Coverage Experience improve by 0.2-0.4 points, depending on their choice of operator. Both our MegaFon and Tele2 users were at the high-end of that range, while it was our MTS users who saw their 4G Coverage Experience improve by 0.2 points. The former is perhaps not surprising, given news that
Tele2 has expanded its coverage to 68 out of 83 regions.
Looking ahead, it is interesting to note the Russian government’s plans to allocate frequencies in the 4.8 GHz band to a single operator to create a 5G network, as the more widely used frequencies for 5G in the 3.4-3.8 GHz and 700 MHz bands are unavailable. How a single operator-model will work and whether the problems associated with non-standard frequency use can be resolved without making 5G prohibitively expensive to deploy in Russia are key questions at this time.