A report by OpenSignal, a company that specialises in wireless coverage mapping using crowd-sourced data, has found that the developing world – including South Africa – has made great strides in increasing 4G speeds and availability, although there is still much work to be done.
IS boosts SA’s rise in global rankings of LTE performance
OpenSignal compiles its State of LTE report every few months. In February 2018, of the 88 countries surveyed, South Africa came in 50th with an average 4G/LTE download speed across all networks of 20.4Mbps. This is an increase from 19.34Mbps in June 2017 when we were in 59th place.
South Africa is proudly ahead of some developed regions like Hong Kong (17.73Mbps) and countries like the United States (16.31Mbps), as well as fellow Brics nations Brazil (19.67Mbps), Russia (15.77Mbps) and India (6.07Mbps), with the latter in last place on the list. Singapore has the highest speeds at 44.31Mbps and it’s worth noting that some developing nations rank higher than South Africa, including Mexico (23.35Mbps) and Ecuador (23.39Mbps).
OpenSignal uses a separate metric to measure 4G availability which, instead of geographic coverage, tracks the proportion of time when users have network access. On this index, South Africa ranked 67th with a 4G availability measurement of 68.3% (up from 62.68% in June 2017), which is higher than Germany’s 65.67% and Ireland’s 56.67%. South Korea takes first place with 97.49% while Algeria is last with 40.94%.
The report explains futher: “Countries can have highly accessible networks, but their speeds can be limited by capacity constraints. Meanwhile, countries with new LTE networks may have limited 4G availability but, due to their light loads, can support considerably fast speeds.”
Findings indicate that the industry has begun to reach the limits of current available technology. The average speeds in top-performing countries have plateaued at just over 45Mbps, where they have remained for the last few reports.
South Africa has been catching up and increasing the adoption of more sophisticated 4G technology and LTE-Advanced is playing a key role in driving that process. OpenSignal states that the top-performing countries were generally those that had invested heavily in LTE-A networks and have a large proportion of LTE-A-capable devices. Other factors include the amount of spectrum devoted to LTE, how densely networks are built and the amount of congestion on these networks.
5G technology is no longer a distant prediction, there are signs that it’s rollout is steadily approaching. In December 2017, 3GPP, the organisation that determines cellular standards, agreed on a universal standard for 5G called 5G NR. The first 5G-enabled devices are likely to be available as early as 2019, but mobile network operators will first have to invest in the infrastructure needed to deliver 5G.
Internet Solutions is already planning to meet the challenge head-on when that time comes. Meanwhile, IS will continue to drive the steady increase of 4G availability and network speed. If you would like to join us in this journey to the next level of mobile connectivity, why not become a reseller?
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