Australia’s mobile networks have again risen in the global rankings to being the fifth fastest in the world with an overall speed of 26.25Mbps across 3G and 4G, according to telecommunications coverage mapping company OpenSignal’s latest report.
South Korea was ranked first, with 37.54Mbps overall speeds — calculated on the average mobile data connection based on speeds and availability of 3G and 4G networks — followed by Norway, with 34.77Mbps; Hungary, with 31.04Mbps; and Singapore, with 30.05Mbps.
New Zealand lagged behind the Netherlands, Denmark, Lithuania, Sweden, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Belgium, Slovakia, Austria, and Croatia, with an overall speed of 18.73Mbps.
The United Kingdom placed 26th, on 15.13Mbps, and the United States was in 36th place, with 12.48Mbps overall speeds.
“In our latest round of tests, the number of countries sporting 20Mbps or faster connections has risen to 13,” OpenSignal said.
“Those top performers have largely remained the same, dominated by South Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Australia in the east and a handful of northern and eastern European countries in the west. The only country on another continent to break the 20Mbps barrier in our tests was Canada.”
Users in the Netherlands spent the most amount of time connected to Wi-Fi networks rather than cellular networks, at 68.53 percent of the time, followed by China, at 65.42 percent of the time; Germany, at 61.44 percent; Canada, at 60.65 percent; and Belgium rounding out the top five, on 59.57 percent.
Australian mobile users were connected to Wi-Fi networks just 46.35 percent of the time, placing it 53rd in the category, while New Zealanders were connected 55.86 percent of the time, at 13th place.
“While 4G continues to extend its reach and speed across the globe, Wi-Fi’s importance as a mobile data technology hasn’t waned,” OpenSignal said.
“We see a high proportion of time spent on Wi-Fi in the majority of the 96 countries we analysed. Specifically, 38 of those countries had time on Wi-Fi scores of 50 percent or greater, meaning in a large part of the world, our users are spending as much time connected to Wi-Fi networks as they are to cellular networks.
“Rather than acting as a mere supplement to 4G networks, Wi-Fi remains as important a technology as any cellular system in mobile communications.”
Last year, OpenSignal ranked Australia’s 4G networks as eighth globally in terms of download connection speeds, at 32.5Mbps, and 13th place worldwide in terms of 4G availability, at 79.34 percent.
Singapore was the leader in 4G speeds, with 45.86Mbps on average, followed by South Korea, with speeds of 45.77Mbps; Hungary, at 40.61Mbps; Romania, at 35.61Mbps; New Zealand, at 34.94Mbps; Bulgaria, with 34.26Mbps; and Netherlands, with 33.84Mbps. New Zealand’s average 4G speed was 34.94Mbps.
OpenSignal tracks availability by the proportion of time that users have access to 4G networks, including when indoors and during times of high congestion. South Korea led this metric, at 95.71 percent, followed by Japan, with 92.03 percent; Lithuania, at 84.73 percent; Hong Kong, with 84.52 percent; and the Netherlands, with 84.1 percent.
New Zealand trailed in 55th place worldwide, with 57.88 percent availability.
In terms of mobile network share, Telstra, Optus, Amaysim, and Aldi Mobile have again expanded their customer bases, according to market research company Kantar’s latest statistics on mobile market share in Australia released earlier this week.
Vodafone Australia, Virgin, TPG/iiNet, and other mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) dropped customers, while Boost remained stagnant.
Telstra’s total market share rose from 39.3 percent to 40.3 percent — with 42.3 percent of the post-paid market, 40.1 percent of prepaid, and 32.2 percent of the no-contract segment.
Optus now holds 23 percent of the total mobile market in Australia, followed by Vodafone Australia, with 14 percent; other MVNOs, with 6.3 percent; Amaysim, with 5.2 percent; Virgin, with 5.1 percent; Aldi Mobile, with 2.9 percent; TPG/iiNet, with 2.4 percent; and Boost, with 0.8 percent.
The trend in mobile has swung in favour of post-paid contracts, which grew from 53.6 percent to 54.5 percent of all mobile plans, while prepaid grew from 32.4 percent to 33.2 percent and the no-contract segment shrank from 14 percent to 12.3 percent.
In relation to network coverage, the Productivity Commission’s draft report into the universal service obligation (USO) in December showed that although Vodafone Australia covers 96 percent of the Australian population or 7.5 percent of the continent’s landmass with its mobile network, Optus covers 98.5 percent of the population and 15.6 percent of the nation, and Telstra covers 99.3 percent of the population, which amounts to covering more than 31 percent of the landmass with its mobile network.