Mobile Network Experience Report Japan September 2021

Japan

Mobile Network Experience Report
September 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

SoftBank wins the Games Experience and Video Experience awards again

In these categories, Opensignal measures the real-world experience of multiplayer mobile gaming and mobile video streaming. Our users connecting with SoftBank again have the best experience on both. For Games Experience, SoftBank scores 80.3 on a 100-point scale and on 75.1 for Video Experience. These scores reflect the experience of mobile users connecting with all mobile technologies, including both 4G and 5G measurements.

SoftBank closes the Voice App Experience gap with Rakuten

In our last report, Rakuten won the Voice App Experience award outright but this time SoftBank and Rakuten jointly win the award. Voice App Experience quantifies the perceived voice calling experience of popular over-the-top communications apps, examples of that type of apps include LINE, WhatsApp and Facetime.

Rakuten holds onto the Upload Speed Experience award

With an average speed of 13.4 Mbps, Opensignal's Rakuten users saw a much faster Upload Speed Experience than our users on the other operators. By comparison, SoftBank scored 9.6 Mbps, NTT DoCoMo 9.3 Mbps and au was in fourth place with 8.6 Mbps. Rakuten's Upload Speed Experience was at least 39.5% faster than all other operators.

With 52.4 Mbps, NTT DoCoMo wins the Download Speed Experience award

The rankings in the Download Speed Experience category are unchanged from the last Opensignal report. DoCoMo retains the award, with au in second place with 46.6 Mbps, SoftBank scored 40.6 Mbps and Rakuten was in fourth place with 24 Mbps.

au wins 4G Availability, but all operators have very high scores

The time users spend connected to 4G remains important with 5G, because most 5G connections require a smartphone to continue to be connected to 4G. 4G Availability reflects the proportion of time users are able to connect to 4G or better. With a near perfect score of 99.6%, au wins the award, but it is only slightly ahead of Rakuten with 99%, NTT DoCoMo's 98.8%, and SoftBank's score of 98.2%.

Introduction

Most Japanese users continue to connect with a range of mobile technologies including both 4G and 5G. This Japan Mobile Network Experience report quantifies the overall experience of mobile users across all the different technologies and is based upon real-world measurements taken on both 4G and 5G in the 90 days between June 1 and August 29, 2021. As well as national awards and results, we also examine the mobile experience across eight regions.

To provide a greater understanding of the mobile experience, we also publish additional metrics looking at the experience of 5G users in Japan. This differs from the awards because instead of representing the experience for all users, these additional metrics reflect the overall experience of those smartphone users that have both a 5G tariff plan and a 5G smartphone model taking into account the amount of time 5G users spend connected to 4G and 5G.

In addition, for the first time Opensignal has also examined the 5G experience across Japan's operators in a companion report. This 5G report looks at the quality of the mobile experience when a 5G user has a 5G network connection.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, Japan
September 2021, Japan Report
Video Experience
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
September 2021, Japan
Video Experience
Games Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
September 2021, 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
73.5
Rakuten
67.4
SoftBank
75.1
au
72.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

Video Experience

SoftBank is the outright winner of the Video Experience award and is the only operator with a Video Experience score that ranks as Excellent (75 or above). This means our SoftBank users saw a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling.

Video Experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over an operator's networks. The metric uses an International Telecommunication Union (ITU)-based approach, built upon detailed studies which have derived a relationship between technical parameters, including picture quality, video loading time and stall rate, with the perceived video experience as reported by real people. The videos tested include a mixture of resolutions and are streamed directly from the world's largest video content providers.

We also analyzed the overall experience of our 5G users. These users have both a 5G smartphone and have used a 5G connection. However, 5G users spend part of their time on 4G and part connected on 5G, and our 5G user results represent the combination of this overall experience. Our SoftBank 5G users saw the highest overall video score of 76.7 (Video Experience – 5G Users) ahead of the other three mobile operators. Although on 5G technology alone, SoftBank and Rakuten share Opensignal's 5G Video Experience award in our companion 5G report.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
73.5
Rakuten
67.4
SoftBank
75.1
au
72.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Video Experience
Additional Metrics
in 0-100 points
Video Experience – 5G Users
75.5 (± 0.28) 72.0 (± 1.21) 76.7 (± 0.55) 72.9 (± 0.38)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Video Experience – 5G Users in 0-100 points
76 (± 0.28)
72 (± 1.21)
77 (± 0.55)
73 (± 0.38)
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

Games Experience

For multiplayer mobile gaming, SoftBank also wins the Games Experience award again. SoftBank's winning score of 80.3 on a 100-point scale is ahead of the other three operators, all of which have similar scores. Also, across 5G users — those with both a 5G smartphone and a 5G tariff plan — SoftBank's 5G users saw the highest overall score for mobile multiplayer gaming of 83.5.

Games Experience quantifies the experience when playing real-time multiplayer mobile games on mobile devices and networks 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. These parameters include latency (round trip time), jitter (variability of latency) and packet loss (the proportion of data packets that never reach their destination). Additionally, it considers multiple genres of multiplayer mobile games to measure the average sensitivity to network conditions.

Games Experience
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
76.7
Rakuten
77.5
SoftBank
80.3
au
77.2
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Games Experience
Additional Metrics
in 0-100 points
Games Experience – 5G Users
74.1 (± 0.46) 77.1 (± 1.30) 83.5 (± 0.72) 78.2 (± 0.63)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Games Experience – 5G Users in 0-100 points
74 (± 0.46)
77 (± 1.30)
84 (± 0.72)
78 (± 0.63)
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

Voice App Experience

The difference between the four operators in Voice App Experience has narrowed in the last six months. Then the scores ranged from 83.1 on a 100-point scale down to 81.7 but now there is under one point separating the four.

SoftBank is now level with Rakuten, and the two now jointly win the Voice App Experience award, when in the last report Rakuten won this award on its own. This represents the score for all Opensignal's users in Japan. However, looking at the overall experience of just 5G users — those users that have both a 5G phone and a 5G tariff plan — our SoftBank users have a higher score (83.5) than our Rakuten users (81.8).

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.

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.3
Rakuten
81.9
SoftBank
81.8
au
81.2
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Voice App Experience
Additional Metrics
in 0-100 points
Voice App Experience – 5G Users
81.5 (± 0.20) 81.8 (± 0.54) 83.5 (± 0.34) 82.1 (± 0.26)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Voice App Experience – 5G Users in 0-100 points
82 (± 0.20)
82 (± 0.54)
83 (± 0.34)
82 (± 0.26)
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

Download Speed Experience

NTT DoCoMo wins the Download Speed Experience award by a clear margin. The average download speed our users connecting with NTT DoCoMo saw was 52.4 Mbps, ahead of au on 46.6 Mbps in second place. The rankings between the operators are unchanged since the previous report

Rakuten is again in fourth place for the overall download speeds with its users seeing 24 Mbps this time, under half NTT DoCoMo's score. This result reflects the limited amount of 4G spectrum that Rakuten has licensed and the low amount of time its users are able to connect to the faster 5G service.

Looking at the overall experience for 5G users alone, rather than for all users, NTT DoCoMo again has the highest score with an overall average speed of 110.4 Mbps. This is faster than 5G users' using au (83.2 Mbps), SoftBank (75.6 Mbps) and Rakuten (54.6 Mbps).

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
52.4
Rakuten
24.0
SoftBank
40.6
au
46.6
0 13.75 27.5 41.25 55
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience
Additional Metrics
in Mbps
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
110.4 (± 1.47) 54.6 (± 6.26) 75.6 (± 2.66) 83.2 (± 2.18)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users in Mbps
110 (± 1.47)
55 (± 6.26)
76 (± 2.66)
83 (± 2.18)
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

Upload Speed Experience

Rakuten retains the Upload Speed Experience award with a score of 13.4 Mbps. Across the last 18 months, in Opensignal's analysis Rakuten users have consistently seen fast average upload speeds. Unlike the existing mobile network operators, Rakuten is building out a brand new access network for both 4G and 5G at the moment which helps to explain the difference in experience here.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
9.3
Rakuten
13.4
SoftBank
9.6
au
8.6
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Upload Speed Experience
Additional Metrics
in Mbps
Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users
8.2 (± 0.11) 16.6 (± 0.85) 13.4 (± 0.41) 9.3 (± 0.19)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Limited
Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users in Mbps
8 (± 0.11)
17 (± 0.85)
13 (± 0.41)
9 (± 0.19)
Mobile Network Experience Report | September 2021 | © Opensignal Inc.

4G Availability

All four operators have near perfect 4G Availability, or, the time that our users are able to connect to 4G or better. While 5G is now available on all the operators, the initial type of 5G technology deployed — non-standalone access (NSA) — requires that a smartphone must continue to be connected to 4G all of the time, even when the smartphone is also connected to a 5G signal. This means that a good 4G network continues to be important in a 5G world. However, as operators switch to standalone access (SA) 5G technology the importance of 4G will decline.

4G Availability
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.8
Rakuten
99.0
SoftBank
98.2
au
99.6
0 25 50 75 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Regional Analysis

Across Japan's eight regions we see both similarities and differences from the national awards picture.

In Kanto, which includes Tokyo, SoftBank wins all three experiential awards — Games, Voice App and Video Experience. NTT DoCoMo and Rakuten mirror their national wins for Download Speed and Upload Speed Experience respectively and au holds 4G Availability. But unlike in the national awards, Rakuten fails to jointly win Voice App Experience.

Rakuten users have a weaker experience in the more rural parts of Japan. While the new operators comfortably wins the Upload Speed Experience award in Kinki, Chubu as well as Kanto in sparsely populated Chugoku it is SoftBank that wins this award, while in Tohoku and Kyushu it is SoftBank and au that jointly win, and in Hokkaido Upload Speed Experience is a tie between NTT DoCoMo, Rakuten and SoftBank. Also, Rakuten jointly wins with au on Upload Speed Experience in Shikoku.

NTT DoCoMo uses had the fastest download speed in all eight regions.

The extent to which SoftBank's national success in Games and Video Experience is reflected at the regional level varies across the country. On Video Experience, SoftBank wins outright in Chubu, Chugoku, Hokkaido, Kanto, Kinki and Tohoku but has to settle for joint wins elsewhere. On Games Experience it has a clear win in Chubu, Kanto and Kinki, and has joint wins in Tohoku and Shikoku and jointly wins the the other three regions.

Select any region or city below to display individual breakdown

Chubu

Video Experience
in Chubu
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
73.3
Rakuten
66.8
SoftBank
75.7
au
72.0
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Games Experience
in Chubu
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
77.6
Rakuten
77.7
SoftBank
81.0
au
75.8
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Voice App Experience
in Chubu
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.7
Rakuten
82.2
SoftBank
82.1
au
81.2
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Download Speed Experience
in Chubu
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
55.2
Rakuten
22.3
SoftBank
40.4
au
42.9
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Upload Speed Experience
in Chubu
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.9
Rakuten
11.8
SoftBank
10.0
au
7.8
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4G Availability
in Chubu
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.6
Rakuten
99.0
SoftBank
97.9
au
99.6
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Chugoku

Video Experience
in Chugoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
72.9
Rakuten
61.8
SoftBank
75.1
au
72.4
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Games Experience
in Chugoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
75.6
Rakuten
78.6
SoftBank
78.5
au
78.5
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Voice App Experience
in Chugoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.6
Rakuten
83.0
SoftBank
80.9
au
81.9
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Download Speed Experience
in Chugoku
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
44.4
Rakuten
13.6
SoftBank
40.1
au
40.9
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Upload Speed Experience
in Chugoku
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.4
Rakuten
8.2
SoftBank
10.0
au
9.1
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4G Availability
in Chugoku
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.6
Rakuten
99.0
SoftBank
97.9
au
99.6
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Hokkaido

Video Experience
in Hokkaido
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
72.6
Rakuten
65.9
SoftBank
75.2
au
71.6
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Games Experience
in Hokkaido
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
75.4
Rakuten
75.1
SoftBank
78.8
au
77.9
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Voice App Experience
in Hokkaido
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
82.1
Rakuten
82.2
SoftBank
81.7
au
82.0
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Download Speed Experience
in Hokkaido
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
54.0
Rakuten
16.1
SoftBank
43.9
au
41.6
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Upload Speed Experience
in Hokkaido
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
9.9
Rakuten
9.6
SoftBank
10.3
au
9.3
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4G Availability
in Hokkaido
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.4
Rakuten
98.9
SoftBank
97.8
au
99.5
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Kanto

Video Experience
in Kanto
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
73.8
Rakuten
69.2
SoftBank
75.0
au
72.0
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Games Experience
in Kanto
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
78.4
Rakuten
77.8
SoftBank
81.2
au
77.9
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Voice App Experience
in Kanto
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.4
Rakuten
81.6
SoftBank
82.1
au
81.2
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Download Speed Experience
in Kanto
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
52.7
Rakuten
28.5
SoftBank
39.6
au
49.6
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Upload Speed Experience
in Kanto
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
9.5
Rakuten
15.8
SoftBank
9.2
au
8.3
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4G Availability
in Kanto
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.8
Rakuten
98.8
SoftBank
98.1
au
99.6
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Kinki

Video Experience
in Kinki
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
73.8
Rakuten
69.6
SoftBank
75.6
au
72.3
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Games Experience
in Kinki
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
76.0
Rakuten
78.4
SoftBank
81.7
au
76.7
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Voice App Experience
in Kinki
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.4
Rakuten
82.3
SoftBank
82.1
au
81.4
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Download Speed Experience
in Kinki
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
55.2
Rakuten
27.5
SoftBank
41.8
au
51.0
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Upload Speed Experience
in Kinki
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
9.9
Rakuten
15.3
SoftBank
9.8
au
8.5
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4G Availability
in Kinki
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.7
Rakuten
99.1
SoftBank
98.3
au
99.6
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Kyushu

Video Experience
in Kyushu
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
73.4
Rakuten
61.0
SoftBank
73.2
au
71.6
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Games Experience
in Kyushu
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
75.2
Rakuten
75.2
SoftBank
77.6
au
75.6
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Voice App Experience
in Kyushu
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.6
Rakuten
81.9
SoftBank
81.1
au
80.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Kyushu
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
46.9
Rakuten
11.6
SoftBank
37.2
au
39.6
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Upload Speed Experience
in Kyushu
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.1
Rakuten
7.4
SoftBank
9.1
au
8.7
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4G Availability
in Kyushu
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.5
Rakuten
99.3
SoftBank
97.6
au
99.4
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Shikoku

Video Experience
in Shikoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
74.2
Rakuten
65.5
SoftBank
75.1
au
73.7
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Games Experience
in Shikoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
77.5
Rakuten
80.4
SoftBank
78.0
au
78.4
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Voice App Experience
in Shikoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
82.1
Rakuten
83.0
SoftBank
80.9
au
81.3
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Download Speed Experience
in Shikoku
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
56.3
Rakuten
21.2
SoftBank
42.3
au
45.0
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Upload Speed Experience
in Shikoku
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
9.5
Rakuten
10.9
SoftBank
9.3
au
10.0
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4G Availability
in Shikoku
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.4
Rakuten
99.1
SoftBank
98.0
au
99.4
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Tohoku

Video Experience
in Tohoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
73.1
Rakuten
63.9
SoftBank
74.7
au
73.1
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Games Experience
in Tohoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
77.6
Rakuten
77.8
SoftBank
78.2
au
79.7
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Voice App Experience
in Tohoku
in 0-100 points
NTT DoCoMo
81.8
Rakuten
82.2
SoftBank
80.8
au
81.8
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Download Speed Experience
in Tohoku
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
48.4
Rakuten
12.8
SoftBank
42.0
au
41.0
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Upload Speed Experience
in Tohoku
in Mbps
NTT DoCoMo
8.0
Rakuten
8.2
SoftBank
8.9
au
9.2
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4G Availability
in Tohoku
% of time
NTT DoCoMo
98.5
Rakuten
99.0
SoftBank
97.5
au
99.5
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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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