Report: In PH, download speed in mobile networks faster than WiFi

In the Philippines and 32 other countries, smartphone users experience faster average download speeds using a mobile network than using WiFi, according to new report by mobile analytics firm OpenSignal.

The range of countries where mobile proved faster vary widely from richer countries such as Australia, where the benefit of using mobile was greatest where smartphone users experienced average download speeds 13 Mbps faster on mobile than WiFi, and France (+2.5 Mbps) to markets across every continent, for example: Qatar (+11.8 Mbps); Turkey (+7.3 Mbps); Mexico (+1.5 Mbps) and South Africa (+5.7 Mbps).

In three highly developed geographies — Hong Kong, Singapore, and the USA — the mobile experience bucks the global trend and significantly underperforms compared with smartphone users’ WiFi download experience with a slower mobile experience of -38.6 Mbps, -34 Mbps and -25 Mbps respectively.

The time smartphones spend connected to WiFi has no significant correlation with users experiencing faster WiFi speeds relative to those on mobile, because smartphones will automatically connect to known WiFi networks without including speed as a factor in their decision.
In the 50 countries surveyed, 63% of those studied have 4G networks that offer a faster smartphone download experience than WiFi, up from 41% of countries when compared with overall mobile download experience instead of 4G.

Just seven countries saw a faster experience on 3G, and even in those countries the speed advantage of a 3G mobile experience was modest, at best an increase of 3Mbps in Lebanon.

“Mobile operators and smartphone makers must re-evaluate their WiFi strategies, especially around mobile offload, automatic network selection and indoor coverage, to ensure they do not accidentally push consumers’ smartphones onto a WiFi network with a worse experience than the mobile network,” the report said.

With 4G, or LTE, there is a much longer list of countries where smartphone users have a faster download experience on mobile networks than on WiFi.

In Australia, on average smartphone users receive 17.5 Mbps greater speed on LTE than on WiFi. There are similar increases across the board.

The countries where smartphone users have a faster mobile experience using 4G, but do not overall on mobile, include major mobile markets such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Finland, and Vietnam.

The report said there are a number of reasons why the cellular experience is faster:

• Relative ease of cellular deployments. It’s easier and usually cheaper to roll out new cellular standards fast and improve cell site backhaul than it is to run fiber to every premise to enable faster WiFi Internet access. Laying new fiber often requires special planning permission, and requires a significant amount of labor to lay in existing ducts or poles, and often requires new digging.

• Smartphone design priorities do not focus on WiFi. Smartphones are extremely complicated devices with enormous pressures to include almost every conceivable technology in a tiny volume, with a low weight, without using too much battery power, and without adding too much to the bill of materials cost. Smartphone makers must make tradeoffs and decide where to focus. And smartphone WiFi antennas and other WiFi hardware has been a lower priority than almost all other parts of smartphone hardware designs such as cellular modems, cellular antennas, display, audio, etc.

• 5 Ghz effect. Many smartphones do not work on 5 Ghz WiFi, so are limited by congestion on the extremely busy 2.4 Ghz unlicensed spectrum band also used for WiFi

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