5G User Experience Report Canada April 2021

Canada

5G User Experience Report
April 2021

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
Hardik Fenwick Technical Analyst

Key findings

Bell and Telus jointly win Opensignal’s first 5G Download Speed award in Canada

The average 5G download speeds of our Canadian users on Telus and Bell are closely matched with speeds averaging just above 165 Mbps — their statistically tied 5G Download Speed scores are 165.6 Mbps and 166.2 Mbps, respectively. In contrast, on Rogers’s network, our users experienced 5G Download Speed of 106.1 Mbps, on average — at least 59.5 Mbps slower than Bell and Telus.

Users on all three national Canadian networks spent similar time connected to 5G

Bell, Rogers and Telus are statistically tied for our 5G Availability award, with scores between 8.2% and 8.7%. This means that all of our 5G users in Canada were able to connect to an active 5G signal for a similar amount of time regardless of their choice of carrier. Opensignal's 5G Availability measures the amount of time 5G users spend connected to 5G — the higher the percentage, the more time users on a network were connected to 5G.

Bell, Rogers and Telus have similar 5G Reach

As with 5G Availability, we saw statistically tied scores for all three carriers on 5G Reach — ranging between 2.8 to 3.2 points (out of 10). However, this means that our 5G users experienced 5G in almost one-third of locations they visit, while 5G users spend under 10% of time connected to 5G. Opensignal’s 5G Reach is a measure of the average proportion of locations where 5G users have connected to a 5G network out of all the locations those users have visited.

Bell and Telus tie for 5G Video Experience

Our first look at the 5G Video Experience in Canada has revealed a statistical tie between Bell and Telus, with scores of 80.8 and 81.8 points respectively (on a 100-point scale). Rogers is further away with a score of 75.2 points. All three carriers’ 5G Video Experience scores place in the Excellent category (75 and above). An Excellent rating indicates a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling.

The typical 5G Games Experience in Canada ranges from Good to Excellent

When it comes to playing multiplayer games over a 5G connection, our Bell and Rogers users reported the best experience. The 5G Games Experience scores of both the carriers place in the Excellent category (more than 85 on a scale of 0-100), while Telus’ score was 1.2 points short of achieving the same rating and placed in the Good category (75-85) instead. An Excellent rating means that the vast majority of our users found the multiplayer mobile gaming experience acceptable and in nearly all cases, the game was responsive to the actions of the player, with them having received immediate feedback to their actions in the game.

Canadian users observe a Good 5G Voice App Experience

Rogers and Telus are the joint winners for 5G Voice App Experience with scores of 84.4 points and 83.5 points, respectively, while Bell followed close behind with a score of 82.8 points. With these scores, all three garnered a Good rating (80-87) — the third-highest rating category for this measure of mobile network experience. Opensignal's Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience for over-the-top (OTT) voice services — mobile voice apps such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger on a scale of 0-100. A Good Voice App Experience means that many users were satisfied, although some may have experienced minor quality impairments such as clicking sounds or distortion.

Introduction

In Opensignal’s first comparison of the 5G experience across carriers in Canada, we found a mobile network experience landscape characterized by extreme competition. Out of seven awards for the taking, not one award category was won outright by any of the operators. Our users saw three-way statistical ties between Bell, Rogers and Telus on three metrics — 5G Availability, 5G Reach and 5G Upload Speed — and in the remaining categories, users saw ties between two operators.

Historically, Canada has been one of the leading 4G markets globally when it comes to mobile network experience. In our latest Global Mobile Network Experience Awards report, all three national carriers — Bell, Rogers, and Telus — placed in the top ten for Download Speed Experience, but when it comes to 5G, Canada is losing global leadership.

Due to challenges with limited 5G spectrum Canada is nowlosing ground in 5G compared with other countries. This change of fortunes as we enter the 5G era is likely because Canada’s carriers are limited to deploying 5G in lower spectrum bands for now, as the auction of the critical 3.5 GHz mid-band spectrum was delayed until June 2021 due to COVID-19. However, even then, Canadian carriers will have access in this auction to a very limited amount of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band — 200 MHz (maximum of 150 MHz for Bell, Telus and Rogers) — which is significantly lower compared to many other 5G countries. The full capabilities of 5G are best realized through the wider channel sizes in the new 5G bands, as for users to enjoy the best 5G speeds, carriers need to be able to deploy 5G with 100 Mhz channel sizes which is extremely difficult for carriers to achieve without access to new mid-band spectrum.

In the future, Canada’s carriers need access to comparable amounts of new 5G spectrum to carriers in other countries. Otherwise, if Canada’s carriers are forced to continue to rely on re-using existing spectrum for 5G, or lower frequency bands for 5G that offer great coverage but lower capacity, then Canada risks falling further behind in the global 5G race for offering the best mobile network experience. Opensignal will continue to analyze the real-world 5G experience to see the impact on our users.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, Canada
April 2021, Canada Report
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
5G Download Speed
5G Upload Speed
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Mobile Experience Awards Draws
April 2021, Canada
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
5G Download Speed
5G Upload Speed
Download Image

Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Availability
in %
Bell
8.7
Rogers
8.3
Telus
8.2
0 2.5 5 7.5 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Availability

There was no outright winner of our first 5G Availability award in Canada; all three carriers were closely matched with scores statistically tied for first place — ranging between 8.2% to 8.7%. This means that our 5G users in Canada, on average, spent between 8.2% and 8.7% of their time connected to 5G.

5G Availability
in %
Bell
8.7
Rogers
8.3
Telus
8.2
0 2.5 5 7.5 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

5G Reach

In our inaugural analysis of 5G Reach, we saw a three-way statistical tie between all three Canadian operators — Bell, Rogers and Telus — with scores ranging between 2.8 and 3.2 points. Opensignal’s 5G Reach analyzes the average proportion of locations where users were connected to a 5G network out of all the locations those users have visited. In simple terms, 5G Reach measures the mobile 5G location experience in all the places that matter most to everyday users —– i.e., where users live, work and travel. 5G Reach for each carrier is measured on a scale from 0 to 10.

5G Reach
in 0-10 points
Bell
2.9
Rogers
3.2
Telus
2.8
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Video Experience

Opensignal’s 5G Video Experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over an operator's networks where users are connected to 5G technology

Bell and Telus statistically tie for the top spot on 5G Video Experience with scores of 80.8 and 81.8 respectively and both placed in the Excellent category (more than 75, on a 100 point scale). Meanwhile, Rogers was further behind but still managed to achieve an Excellent rating with a score of 75.2 points. An Excellent 5G Video Experience represents a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling.

5G Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Bell
80.8
Rogers
75.2
Telus
81.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Games Experience

Bell and Rogers are top for our first 5G Games Experience award in Canada with statistically tied scores — 85.4 points and 87 points, respectively. With these scores, both operators gained an Excellent (85 or above) 5G Games Experience rating. Meanwhile, Telus’ score of 83.8 placed it in the Good category (75-85) — just 1.2 points short of Excellent.

An Excellent rating means that the vast majority of our users found the multiplayer mobile gaming experience acceptable and in nearly all cases, the game was responsive to the actions of the player with them having received immediate feedback to their actions in the game. And as we move down the ratings the responsiveness to the player’s action reduces and users start experiencing delays between their action and the game.

5G Games Experience
in 0-100 points
Bell
85.4
Rogers
87.0
Telus
83.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Voice App Experience

We saw a tight competition on our measure of 5G Voice App Experience, with just 1.6 points separating all three carriers’ scores. Roger and Telus are joint winners for this category, while Bell follows not far behind with a slightly lower score. With scores ranging between 82.8 to 84.4 points, all three operators placed in the Good (80-87) category.

A Good Voice App Experience means that many of our users, on all three networks, were satisfied when using over-the-top voice apps such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger over a 5G connection. However, some of them experienced minor quality impairments. Sometimes the background was not quite clear; it could have been either hazy or not loud enough. Clicking sounds or distortion were very occasionally present.

5G Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
Bell
82.8
Rogers
84.4
Telus
83.5
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Download Speed

Bell and Telus are the first winners of the 5G Download Speed award in Canada, with our users observing average 5G download speeds of 166.2 Mbps and 165.6 Mbps on their networks, respectively. By contrast, our Rogers users saw a 5G Download Speed of 106.1 Mbps. These results represent the real-world 5G speeds where our users had an active 5G connection. Opensignal's 5G results represent the end-to-end experience of users.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
Bell
166.2
Rogers
106.1
Telus
165.6
0 42.5 85 127.5 170
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Upload Speed

All three carriers — Bell, Rogers and Telus — are joint winners of the first 5G Upload Speed award in Canada, with scores ranging between 18.8 Mbps and 19.2 Mbps. While download speeds always attract the most attention, upload speeds are becoming increasingly important to users. Sharing photos and videos on social media or large files all benefit from fast upload speeds.

5G Upload Speed
in Mbps
Bell
19.1
Rogers
18.8
Telus
19.2
0 5 10 15 20
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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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.

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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