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

Alex Kidman 4 February 2016 NEWS

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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:

Carrier Average Download Speed (Mbps) LTE Availability (%)
Telstra 29Mbps 77
Optus 19Mbps 76
Vodafone 17Mbps 71

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.

Country LTE Availability (%) Average Download Speed (Mbps)
Singapore 83 37
New Zealand 54 29
Hungary 79 28
Israel 52 28
South Korea 97 27
Romania 61 26
Denmark 70 25
Australia 75 24
Netherlands 84 23
United Arab Emirates 76 23
Austria 66 23
Spain 59 21
Norway 79 20
Oman 54 20
Canada 76 19
Latvia 71 19
Belgium 66 19
Greece 57 19
Switzerland 69 18
Slovakia 64 18
France 51 18
Finland 75 17
Italy 57 17
Ecuador 41 17
Taiwan 79 16
Morocco 60 16
Slovenia 73 15
Colombia 59 15
United Kingdom 53 15
Estonia 78 14
China 76 14
Czech Republic 65 14
Germany 56 14
Ireland 44 14
Sweden 79 13
Portugal 67 13
Poland 61 13
Guatemala 57 13
Dominican Republic 53 13
India 49 13
Japan 90 12
Hong Kong 86 12
Uruguay 81 12
Georgia 64 12
Thailand 56 12
Malaysia 55 12
Brazil 53 12
Chile 47 12
Qatar 79 11
Sri Lanka 39 11
United States 81 10
Peru 66 10
Venezuela 57 10
Russia 55 10
Bulgaria 50 10
Mexico 61 9
Argentina 51 9
Jordan 65 8
South Africa 60 8
Kuwait 85 7
Kazakhstan 75 7
Bolivia 61 6
Puerto Rico 57 6
Philippines 43 6
Pakistan 58 4
Saudi Arabia 65 3
Iran 52 3
Costa Rica 41 3

Image: Shutterstock

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