Report: Population density, GDP major factors in mobile speed in Asean

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Mobile metrics firm Opensignal said that it has found a strong correlation between mobile “Download Speed Experience” and the GDP per capita of countries across Southeast and South Asia.

“Our approach revealed a completely different landscape compared with looking at Download Speed Experience, Games Experience or other measures of mobile network experience in isolation,” it said in a new report.

While the Philippines ranked towards the bottom out of 100 countries in Games Experience, when users’ Download Speed Experience is compared with GDP per capita, the Philippines is in the middle of the pack. Its users’ speeds were fractionally lower than Indonesia, but Indonesia has a higher GDP. The contrast with Malaysia is even more stark: although Malaysia has much higher GDP per capita, its users’ download speeds are only a little faster than the Philippines.

The study compared members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and neighboring countries that are part of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

“There also appears to be a link between a country’s population density and its users’ mobile download speeds. Countries with more dense populations tend to enjoy faster speeds, most likely because it is easier to serve dense urban populations than offer mobile connectivity in rural areas through jungle, mountains and areas with weak electrical infrastructure. Again, this helps to explain why Singapore often ranks so highly in global comparisons,” it observed.

“When we compare ASEAN and SAARC countries using population density, we again find that countries like the Philippines are again in the middle. This is where we would expect given the Philippines’ population density and the correlation we have found between population density and download speed across countries,” it added.

But, Opensignal said it’s possible to buck the GDP and population density trend, indicating that countries that implement their mobile networks shrewdly can rise up the international rankings.

“In our analysis, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos all offer users a Download Speed Experience higher than would be predicted from GDP per capita or population densities,” it said.

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