Canadians may not like the prices they pay for wireless services, but a new report says in terms of network availability and downloading speeds they're among the best in the world.
That's one of the takeaways from a new report by U.K.-based mobile mapping company OpenSignal, which put out its annual State of LTE report on Wednesday.
OpenSignal collects data from millions of users worldwide who download the company's free speed-testing app. For this report, in the first three months of 2017 OpenSignal collected more than 19 billion data points from 558,260 devices in 75 countries, to see what mobile users around the world were getting.
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OpenSignal instead collects data periodically — when users are inside, outside or underground, as well when they are in both rural and urban environments. It then collects that info into an aggregate number of what users get in reality.
By OpenSignal's calculations, Canadians can expect wireless speeds of up to 30.58 megabits per second, on average. That's good enough for 13th in the world, and more than twice as fast as the 14.99 Mbps speeds that U.S. users get.
With its small size and tech-connected economy, the city state of Singapore had the fastest connections in the world, clocking in at 45.62 Mbps. South Korea came next at 43.46, followed by Hungary at 42.61.
The average across all 75 nations ranked was 16.2 Mbps on LTE networks. Older 2G and 3G networks are much slower.
"The best performers in our speed rankings continue to push LTE to its technological limits," OpenSignal said. "15 countries now deliver typical downloads in excess of 30 Mbps."
Many of LTE's earliest adopters dominate the speed list. Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Norway and the Netherlands have had the better part of six years to fully deploy, optimize and upgrade their original LTE networks, which helps explain their strong performance.
Network access improving
Canadians are also pretty well served in terms of having access to those high-speed networks. By OpenSignal's calculations, a Canadian with an LTE-enabled wireless device can expect to have a high-speed signal more than 81 per cent of the time.
That's not as much as the 96.3 per cent of the time that South Koreans can, but well ahead of nations such as the U.K. at just over 66 per cent, Switzerland at 74 per cent and Brazil at 55 per cent.
Next to South Korea, Japan was the only other country to achieve 4G connectivity better than 90 per cent of the time.
The last time OpenSignal crunched the numbers only 11 countries had exceeded the 80 per cent threshold. Now that tally is 16 countries. And six months ago 31 nations had 4G availability less than 60 per cent of the time. Today, only 19 do.
Price still an issue
In a speech at the Canadian Telecom Summit on Monday, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains gave the industry credit for building and investing in their networks to make them more powerful and able to reach more Canadians.
But he singled out one consistent problem that Canadians are very familiar with: high prices.
"Access isn't the only challenge," Bains said. "A bigger barrier is price."
Wireless subscribers pay more for basic cellphone services in Canada than people in the U.S and U.K. do for similar service, Bains said. "They are being priced out of the market."