4G LTE broadband: Australia ranks amongst the world’s best

Alex Kidman 4 February 2016

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Australian mobile LTE broadband ranks amongst the world’s best for both availability and speed according to a new report.

The next time you complain about your mobile broadband speed, consider this: It could be a lot worse.

Admittedly, just like any shared spectrum network, our mobile broadband networks can get congested from time to time, as anyone who’s ever tried to frantically download some email while waiting at a busy airport or on a peak hour train could tell you. But by world standards, Australia’s got a lot to be proud of.

A new report from OpenSignal, The State Of LTE tracks and analyses global broadband trends for LTE availability and speed. Based on the responses of some 357,924 global OpenSignal LTE Android users over the period between 1 October 2015 and 31 December 2015, Australian average LTE availability -- the percentage of time users on the app could connect to an identifiably 4G LTE service -- ranks at only 20th in the world at 75 percent. However, when you take speed into consideration, we jump up to 8th overall with an average download capacity of 24Mbps.

Of the other 7 nations ahead of us in speed terms (Singapore, New Zealand, Hungary, Israel, South Korea, Romania and Denmark), only Singapore, New Zealand and Hungary beat us out in availability percentage terms. That’s a particularly impressive achievement when you consider that none of the faster download countries have anywhere near the land mass of Australia to cover.

For the purposes of comparison a close match in landmass terms would be the USA. It is just a little larger at around 9.16 million square kilometres to Australia's 7.62 million square kilometres. The States do beat out Australia in 4G LTE availability terms with 81% coverage. However, its average download speed of 10Mbps is less than half our average speed.

In terms of bottom of the ladder placement, 4G LTE users in Costa Rica have the most to complain about, with only 41% recorded coverage and a comparatively lousy 3Mbps average connection speed to use. Users in Iran and Saudi Arabia have identical average speeds, but you're at least likely to connect more than half the time in those locations.

OpenSignal breaks its data out by carriers in each nation as well, which means we can compare the averages for the big three Australian carrier networks, remembering that no matter which brand you’re getting your mobile service from, it’s ultimately only running on Telstra, Optus or Vodafone’s Networks.

Here is how the three Australian carriers compare for 4G LTE availability and speed:

CarrierAverage Download Speed (Mbps)LTE Availability (%)
Telstra29Mbps77
Optus19Mbps76
Vodafone17Mbps71

The Telstra figures are particularly impressive. OpenSignal ranks Telstra as the 12th fastest mobile broadband service in the world, behind M1 (Singapore), T-Mobile (Netherlands), T-Mobile (Hungary), TDC (Denmark), Vodafone (New Zealand), Vodafone (Romania), olleh (South Korea), Orange (Israel), SaskTel (Canada), StarHub (Singapore) and the world's best, which is SingTel (Singapore). Yes, that's Singtel, the owners of Optus. Just by itself, Telstra would count as the world’s equal second fastest country (with New Zealand) by speed ranking.

In global terms, though, the countries to be entirely envious of are clearly South Korea and Singapore, where both availability and speed across all carriers as an average is very high.

The data also has implications if you’re going to be roaming globally on your phone at any time in the near future, but only particularly if you plan on picking up a local SIM to go in your phone, as most roaming arrangements and travel SIMs do not typically include 4G data access as part of their plans. You would also need to ensure that your handset was compatible with the 4G LTE frequencies and bands in those locations.

Here are the full lists by country of average availability and speeds. You can sort by country, availability or speed by clicking on the selectors at the top of each column.

CountryLTE Availability (%)Average Download Speed (Mbps)
Singapore8337
New Zealand5429
Hungary7928
Israel5228
South Korea9727
Romania6126
Denmark7025
Australia7524
Netherlands8423
United Arab Emirates7623
Austria6623
Spain5921
Norway7920
Oman5420
Canada7619
Latvia7119
Belgium6619
Greece5719
Switzerland6918
Slovakia6418
France5118
Finland7517
Italy5717
Ecuador4117
Taiwan7916
Morocco6016
Slovenia7315
Colombia5915
United Kingdom5315
Estonia7814
China7614
Czech Republic6514
Germany5614
Ireland4414
Sweden7913
Portugal6713
Poland6113
Guatemala5713
Dominican Republic5313
India4913
Japan9012
Hong Kong8612
Uruguay8112
Georgia6412
Thailand5612
Malaysia5512
Brazil5312
Chile4712
Qatar7911
Sri Lanka3911
United States8110
Peru6610
Venezuela5710
Russia5510
Bulgaria5010
Mexico619
Argentina519
Jordan658
South Africa608
Kuwait857
Kazakhstan757
Bolivia616
Puerto Rico576
Philippines436
Pakistan584
Saudi Arabia653
Iran523
Costa Rica413

Image: Shutterstock

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