Everyone thinks their cellphone provider is the worst. So it might come as a surprise that, according to a new report on network performance, Canada's big three are actually quite closely matched.

The report, published by wireless-mapping company OpenSignal, compared download speeds, network availability and latency between Telus, Rogers and Bell.

While Telus and Bell came out on top in many of the tests, OpenSignal ultimately concluded the overall difference between the three providers was slim and all were equally strong performers.

"It's not just one standout operator performing well in our metrics," the report reads. "It's all of the big three."

A closer look at the report

OpenSignal's report was conducted between October and December of last year, with a sample size of 15,272 users across Canada. The company collected almost 290 million measurements. 

The data was crowdsourced from users of the company's Android and iPhone apps, which perform network measurement tests.

Among the report's key takeaways:

  • In a measure of 4G download speeds, Telus and Bell tied, with 30.5 Mbps (megabits per second) and 28.4 Mbps respectively. Why the tie if the numbers are different? According to OpenSignal, "overlapping statistical margins resulted in a draw."
  • OpenSignal doesn't track network coverage but rather availability — defined as the amount of time a 4G connection is available. For this test, Rogers and Telus tied with just under 81 per cent availability, while Bell came in at 78 per cent.
  • In terms of latency, or "the delay data experiences as it travels between points in the network," Telus was the clear winner with an average of 43.6 milliseconds of latency on its 4G network, followed by 47.1 ms for Bell and 51.2 ms for Rogers. (Because we're talking about delay, the smaller the number, the better.)
  • In a metric looking at overall download speed — one that combined speeds for both 4G and 3G networks, as well as availability — Telus again came out on top, with an average of 24.1 Mbps. This was followed by Bell with 22.1 Mbps and Rogers with 21.3 Mbps.

"In many of our metrics, we found no clear winners given how evenly matched the operators were in our measurements," the report reads.

What the big 3 can deliver

On its website, Bell says its LTE network is technically capable of delivering speeds of up to 335 Mbps, but that average speeds of 12 to 100 Mbps are more likely.

Telus says its network can achieve speeds of up to 225 Mbps, but that average speeds of 12 to 65 Mbps are more likely.

Rogers, meanwhile, has said its network can also deliver speeds of up to 225 Mbps, and that speeds of 12 to 25 Mbps are more likely — or up to 40 Mbps with some devices.

However, actual speeds on each network typically vary depending on such factors as location, the device being used and the time of day.

And if you're still grumbling that your mobile network is never as fast as you want it to be, look on the bright side: "The typical 4G connection in Canada is 26.6 Mbps," the report reads, "nearly twice that of the typical U.S. connection."