Friday, February 21, 2014

U.S. ranks next to last in terms of mobile broadband LTE speed

We've complained before about the speed of broadband in the U.S. and how it trails other countries badly, but a Thursday report from OpenSignal shows that lagging U.S. broadband speeds extend to mobile broadband, as well.

According to the report, the U.S. finished next to last in 4G (LTE) mobile broadband speed, surpassing only the Philippines. Of course, to be honest, LTE hasn't rolled out everywhere. More on that later.

Things aren't improving, either. In fact, they are getting worse. U.S 4G download speed has dropped from an average of 9.6Mbps in the second half of 2012 to 6.5Mbps in 2013. That 30 percent decline wasn't the fault of any particular carrier, either, as the report stated that "the USA networks uniformly perform poorly for speed." However, it was noted that Metro PCS recorded the slowest speed of all eligible networks."

The downgrade in speed could be the result of additional LTE customers loading down the carrier networks; Verizon recently upgraded the infrastructure in some of its regions because of that. The decline was the biggest among the countries in the survey.

As we said, the U.S. managed to beat one other nation, the Philippines, which brought up the rear at 5.3Mbps.

At the top of the list of countries was Australia, which saw its average download speed improve by 42 percent, rising from 17.3Mbps to 24.5Mbps.

One problem customers still have, though, is coverage. Many carriers are only now rolling out LTE coverage. A good example in the U.S. is Sprint, which spent a lot of time betting on WiMax for 4G, only to realize its mistake later.

The top four in the coverage rankings probably won't surprise -- well, one of them might -- they are South Korea (91 percent of the time), Sweden (88 percent), Hong Kong (74), and Japan (68). In fifth place was Canada at 67 percent; the U.S. also has a 67 percent numeric rating, but must lose in the tenths somewhere, as it is ranked sixth.

Australia, the fastest country, was down in ninth place at 58 percent.

Among other notable rankings in the report were Claro Brazil (27.8Mbps) as the fastest LTE network, Japan (66 percent) as most improved country for LTE speed, and Tele2 Sweden (93 percent coverage) as the network With best coverage.

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