User data suggests carriers delivers faster speed, people stay on LTE longer

Every day Canadians are bombarded with marketing from the country’s three biggest wireless carriers about their fast and extensive LTE networks.

Which begs the question which of BCE Inc.’s Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications or Telus Corp.  has the best LTE network in the country?

According to one measure, Rogers Communications is the winner according to data collected by  British-based OpenSignal.com, which distributes free Android and iOS apps for collecting wireless data from 6 million users around the world. In a report released Thursday it concluded that Rogers has the best combination of speed and coverage. But Bell and Telus aren’t that far behind.

OpenWireless created a measure called breadth, which plots LTE download speeds against the time users stay on the network before it defaults to a lower protocol (such as HSPA) or the call gets dropped.

On average 73 per cent of the time Rogers subscribers who had the app (and an LTE-capable  handset)  spent on the network had an LTE signal. They were also seeing average download speeds of 21 Mpbs.

By comparison data from Telus and Bell subscribers with the app were only LTE only 60 per cent of the time, with average download speeds of around 18 Mbps.

(To see the full report click here)

Looked at another way, Canadian subscribers ranked fifth in the world for the time they were able to spend on an LTE network before defaulting to a slower speed or being knocked off: On average 67 per cent of the time. The leader was South Korea with 91 per cent, followed by Sweden, Hong Kong and Japan. The U.S. tied with Canada.

On the other hand, Canada was far ahead of the U.S. in average LTE download speeds reported: We had an average of 19.3 Mbps (sixth compared to all reported countries) while the U.S. had an average of 6.5 Mbps.

The numbers were collected over the second half of 2013.

Average LTE download speeds in this country have been going up slightly, the report also said, from 19.1 Mbps to 19.3 Mbps compared to number collected in 2012. Meanwhile the average LTE speed in the U.S. went down to 6.5 Mbps from 9.6 per cent.

The numbers underscore OpenSignal’s finding that not all LTE networks are equal.

In an interview OpenSignal CEO Brendan Gill said that while Rogers was the top Canadian LTE carrier in breadth, Bell and Telus’ numbers are “respectable.”

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