Sweden was the first country to launch an LTE network, and it retains plenty of bragging rights. According to a study by U.K. network-testing firm OpenSignal, Sweden has the fastest 4G networks in the world, averaging download speeds of 22.1 Mbps.
The U.S. was the second country to deliver commercial LTE networks on the world stage, but it ranks far lower in terms of 4G bandwidth delivered. OpenSignal found that networks in Hong Kong, Denmark, Canada, Australia, South Korea and Germany all performed better. The U.S. placed eighth, averaging downlink speeds of 9.6 Mbps.
Why the low scores? It probably has to do with the configuration of U.S. carriers’ networks. While most operators around the world secured 40 MHz of spectrum with which to launch their new 4G networks, U.S. carriers have been working with smaller swatches of airwaves. Verizon and AT&T are using 20 MHz for their initial rollouts, while Sprint and MetroPCS are dealing with as little as 10 MHz. If you’re working with half the spectrum, your connections will sport half the bandwidth.
Based in both London and Laguna Hills, Calif., OpenSignal collects its data through crowdsourcing, aggregating measurements recorded by millions of smartphones users who have downloaded its free Android app. There are a lot of similarities between the OpenSignal and Seattle’s RootMetrics. Root supplements its smartphone data with professional testing (see our video on one such drive test in Chicago), while OpenSignal relies entirely on crowdsourcing, but both have started generating very detailed maps of cellular network coverage and performance in different areas of the world. OpenSignal recently expanded its scope to encompass Wi-Fi.
What’s particularly noteworthy about OpenSignal’s latest report is just how far LTE has penetrated around the world in the last two years. OpenSignal tracked LTE signals in 62 countries, including multiple African countries and in the central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
LTE image courtesy of Shutterstock user Inq