Mobile Network Experience Report Hong Kong May 2021

Hong Kong

Mobile Network Experience Report
May 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
Ian Fogg VP Analysis

Key findings

csl pulls ahead of CMHK to win the Download Speed Experience award with 29.6 Mbps

Our csl users experienced the fastest average download speeds increasing from 25.6 Mbps in the last Opensignal report to 29.6 Mbps. CMHK was in second place, scoring 24.9 Mbps with the gap between CMHK and both 3 and SmarTone widening.

SmarTone wins the Games Experience award

With a score of 74.8 on our 100 point scale, SmarTone retains the award, ahead of CMHK's score of 72.3 in second place. Notably, where last time CMHK, 3 and csl were tied, CMHK has pulled ahead of two of its rivals. Opensignal's Games Experience measures the multiplayer mobile gaming experience of popular game genres including battle royale, example titles include PUBG or Fortnite, and massive online battle area titles (MOBA) such as Arena of Valor.

Video Experience is highest rated among our csl users, and ranks as Very Good

With a score of 73.8 csl wins Opensignal's Video Experience award narrowly ahead of 3 and CMHK both of whom are statistically tied on scores of 71.4 and 71.8 respectively. All three operators place in the Very Good (65 < 75) category. Our SmarTone users observed the lowest Video Experience and fell into the Good category (55 < 65) with a score of 64.1 on the 100 point scale. Video Experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over an operator's networks.

For Voice App Experience, SmarTone retains the Opensignal award

On three of Hong Kong's operators — 3, CMHK and csl — our users experience an Acceptable Voice App Experience (74 < 80) with scores ranging from 77.2 to 78.3 on the 100 point scale. However, SmarTone narrowly rates in the Good category (80 < 87) with a score of 80.4 meaning that minor quality impairments may have been experienced by some users. Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience for over-the-top (OTT) voice services, for example for mobile voice apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Skype, or Facebook Messenger.

There are only small differences in 4G Availability and 4G Coverage Experience across operators

Even with 5G, the older 4G technology remains important to act as an anchor for 5G non-standalone access (NSA) meaning that a 5G smartphone also needs a 4G signal in order to connect to 5G. On two measures of mobile network experience that reflect the extent of 4G in Hong Kong there is little difference between operators. Three operators jointly win 4G Availability — time connected to 4G — with 3, CMHK and csl scoring 95.7%, 95.3% and 95% respectively. While for 4G Coverage Experience, which reflects the locations 4G is experienced, CMHK, csl and SmarTone all score 9.9.

Introduction

Hong Kong is a fiercely competitive mobile market with four leading mobile network operators competing for the best mobile experience. The results across Opensignal's range of award categories highlights the importance of using multiple measures to understand how users' experience varies because we see all four operators jointly win, or win, at least one award.

While commercial 5G services are available in Hong Kong, it's still early days for this latest mobile technology generation. The reach of 5G is still growing, and the bulk of users continue to rely on 4G. In 2021, 4G remains important even for 5G usage, because with 5G non-standalone access, users must be connected to a 4G signal for 5G to operate. This will change as 5G standalone access arrives, but for now this is in trials.

Operators also need more spectrum to boost the 5G experience and drive higher 5G adoption. Hong Kong's Communications Authority plans to award 325 MHz of new spectrum suited for 5G — a large amount — across the 600 MHz and 700 MHz bands suited for in-building reach as well as rural services, alongside the 4.9GHz higher capacity mid-band. This will help operators transform Hong Kong's 5G experience.

In this report we examine Hong Kongers' mobile network experience in the 90 days between January 1 and March 31, 2021. Our award categories include users' measurements from all mobile network technology generations including 5G.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, Hong Kong
May 2021, Hong Kong 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
May 2021, Hong Kong
Video Experience
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
May 2021, Hong Kong
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
Video Experience
in 0-100 points
3
71.4
CMHK
71.8
csl
73.8
SmarTone
64.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

Video Experience

There are under three points on our 100 point Video Experience scale separating 3, CMHK and csl but the latter again wins the Opensignal Video Experience award with a score of 73.8. Alongside csl, our 3 and CMHK users also enjoyed a Very Good (65 < 75) Video Experience. This rating means users saw generally fast loading times and only occasional stalling but the experience might have been somewhat inconsistent across users and/or video providers/resolutions.

However, fourth placed SmarTone scored 64.1 which rated in the Good category. This means that users had a less consistent experience, even from the same video streaming provider and particularly for higher resolutions, with noticeably slower loading times and stalling not being uncommon.

Opensignal's Video Experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over an operator's networks with an International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-based approach. To calculate video experience, Opensignal has directly measured video streams from end-user devices measuring a series of technical characteristics. The score represents users' perceived video experience derived from experimental studies of the relationship between these technical parameters — including picture quality, video loading time and stall rate — with real users' perceived video experience.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
3
71.4
CMHK
71.8
csl
73.8
SmarTone
64.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

Games Experience

Games Experience quantifies the multiplayer mobile gaming experience of smartphone users. Opensignal measures technical parameters that are important in determining the gaming experience — including latency (round trip time), jitter (variability of latency) and packet loss (the proportion of data packets that never reach their destination) — and combine these into a single score representing users' perceived experience based on several years of research into popular games genres such as Battle Royale and MOBA, examples of which include Fortnite, PUBG and Arena of Valor.

SmarTone wins the Games Experience award with a score of 74.8 on our 100 point scale, ahead of CMHK in second place with 72.3. Notably, CMHK has moved ahead of rivals 3 and csl compared with the last two reports when all three were statistically tied. SmarTone users' Games Experience narrowly misses out on ranking in the Good category (75<85) this time. All four operators have significant room for improvement to reach an Excellent (85 or above) Games Experience. Otherwise operators risk many of their users preferring to use Wifi, and not the mobile network, for multiplayer gaming on their smartphones.

Games Experience
in 0-100 points
3
66.5
CMHK
72.3
csl
69.1
SmarTone
74.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Voice App Experience

With a score of 80.4, SmarTone narrowly wins the Opensignal Voice App Experience award and places in the Good (80<87) category. Our users experience with the three other operators rates as Acceptable (74<80) meaning some users experienced perceptible call quality impairments and a short duration of clicking sounds or distortion can be heard or the volume may not be sufficiently loud. Listener was generally able to comprehend without repetition. However, there are less than four points on our 100 point scale that separate all four operators this time so 3, csl and CMHK are not far from catching the winner and SmarTone must continue to execute well to retain its award in future.

Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience for over-the-top (OTT) voice services using popular mobile apps — such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger etc. — using a model based on an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) approach for quantifying overall voice call quality and a series of calibrated technical parameters. Voice App Experience represents the relationship between the real-world technical measurements and users' perceived call quality.

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
3
77.2
CMHK
78.3
csl
78.2
SmarTone
80.4
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

Download Speed Experience

With 29.6 Mbps, csl wins the Download Speed Experience award. Our csl users' average download speeds were almost 5 Mbps faster than the speeds seen by our users connecting with second-placed CMHK (24.9 Mbps). However, 3 and SmarTone were a long way from leading the market with scores of 18.8 Mbps and 19.9 Mbps respectively.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
3
18.8
CMHK
24.9
csl
29.6
SmarTone
19.9
0 7.5 15 22.5 30
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Upload Speed Experience

While we have seen changes in the download speed, the Opensignal Upload Speed Experience results are very similar to our last report. In both, csl and CMHK jointly win the award for Upload Speed Experience, now with statistically tied speeds of 7.8 Mbps and 7.7 Mbps respectively. This means our users on these two operators are able to share photos or video on social networks and send email attachments more quickly than users connecting with 3 or SmarTone.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
3
6.4
CMHK
7.7
csl
7.8
SmarTone
6.1
0 2.5 5 7.5 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Availability

On all four operators, our users have seen slightly greater time connected to 4G services — 4G Availability — than in the last report. The three winning operators all have 4G Availability scores of 95% or more and are closing on a perfect score. Our SmarTone users see a slightly lower experience with a score of 93.9%.

While 5G has launched in Hong Kong, 4G remains an important foundation even for users connecting to 5G. In part, this is because the non-standalone access (NSA) technology used to deploy 5G in Hong Kong initially and globally requires 5G smartphones to connect to 4G in order to use 5G. Also, even when connected to 5G, the quality of the 4G network helps augment the experience, as data may travel over both 4G and 5G connections simultaneously and the backhaul links from cellular base stations are a shared capacity. If a mobile operator upgrades those links it helps improve both users' 4G and 5G experience.

4G Availability
% of time
3
95.7
CMHK
95.3
csl
95.0
SmarTone
93.9
0 25 50 75 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

4G Coverage Experience

There is little difference in 4G Coverage Experience between Hong Kong's operators. On a ten point scale, CMHK, csl and SmarTone tie on 9.9 and jointly win the award. But 3 is only just behind with a score of 9.8.

Opensignal's 4G Coverage Experience 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.

4G Coverage Experience
in 0-10 points
3
9.8
CMHK
9.9
csl
9.9
SmarTone
9.9
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
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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