U.S. LTE coverage is top-tier but speeds are lacking, according to OpenSignal's latest report
Wireless coverage mapping company OpenSignal has released its biannual "The State of LTE" report today, which highlights some of the interesting trends when it comes to worldwide 4G coverage.
South Korea is, unsurprisingly, the country with the best quality LTE connectivity in the world, but its competition is catching up fast as well. The United States, for example, has the fourth-best nationwide coverage (measured not geographically, but rather based on what percentage of the time a user is connected to LTE). This is thanks to a push from carriers which brought coverage to 86.5 percent, up from the previous report's 51.3 percent. And this isn't a small increase, either, when taking into consideration the United States' size.
U.S. LTE Speeds are below the world averageBut now, the bad news: while U.S. coverage is exceptionally good, the speeds delivered to the end user are below the world average. In fact, the States take 59th place (out of the 75 countries in the list), falling behind countries such as Germany, Russia, and Mexico. The top average worldwide speeds can be achieved in Singapore, with its 45.62 Mbps, while the lowest can be found in Costa Rica, with its measly 5.14 Mbps. Meanwhile, the U.S. has an average of 14.99 Mbps.
As OpenSignal points out, there are many factors into play when asking the question of why there is such a massive speed discrepancy across the map: adoption of new technologies such as LTE-Advanced, network density, and traffic congestion.
Moving away from the United States, a couple of outliers are well worth mentioning. The biggest one is India, which managed to achieve a staggering 81.6 percent availability in a record amount of time, thanks in most part to new market player Jio. Curiously, though this comes at the cost of speed: India has the second worst LTE speeds with an average of 5.14 Mbps, the same as Costa Rica's. Also, European countries are seeing a lot of progress as well, with Eastern Europe emerging as "hotbed for powerful LTE connections", while a couple of Western European countries are finally catching up in terms of availability.
As for the future, a major expectation is for countries to soon start passing the 50 Mbps threshold, though the room for improvement beyond that doesn't seem to be much – at least for LTE, that is. With the sector steadily shifting its attention towards 5G, current LTE technologies may soon end up stalling in terms of speed, at least in countries near the top of the chart.