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.

But 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.

source: OpenSignal

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8 Comments

1. datagrab

Posts: 49; Member since: Feb 13, 2015

Wow. india really sucks. Good thing i'm now in New Zealand. Good luck to my fellow indians!

7. Whistler

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 11, 2017

Well as an Indian I would not call this LTE Speed( Avg 5.14 Mbps) bad considering 400 Millions data users and asking greater average speed will be too much to ask from mobile operators when you are paying only USD 5 (309 in Indian Rupee) for a full month with unlimited calling on anynetwork even in National roaming + Unlimited SMS + 1GB data everyday(30 GB for 30 days) without any contract and with 81% average LTE coverage. LTE revolution in India started from Jio4G 's launch, Sept 2016 so after few months when coverage will reach more than 95% after that I am sure carriers will start adding capacity which will push the average speed.

8. datagrab

Posts: 49; Member since: Feb 13, 2015

i know. I just left last march 2017. Been to Vietnam then Philippines (to avoid getting suspicion from NZ immigration that i was looking for a job in their country like all our fellow indians who are now in USA, singapore, taiwan, philippines, UAE, qatar etc., i made it look like i was just travelling with multiple countries visited as proof), even their LTE was faster! Only time i had it tough was a part inside of some mall (food court) in Da Nang where it absolutely had no data signal. But other than that, everywhere else i experienced was faster than ours in india. You should leave too brother. Good luck.

2. KingSam

Posts: 1466; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

I just did a speed test on HSPA+ 2 Mbps. It truly sucks. LTE is only available in one of 14 parishes.

3. Ocr22

Posts: 29; Member since: May 12, 2017

Oh yes i been to mexico and their LTE is deff faster on average i was getting 50 mbps down everywhere in mexico city while roaming with my T-Mobile phone on Telcel Lte. And speeds were consistent. Here in the US i don't get speeds like that all the time . Not even on verizon . speeds are always different. Someone told me speed is faster over there because there's not a lot of people in the network. That's bull**** mexico city is one of the largest city's in the world with the most people in the world.so in sure there were A LOT of people in the network. And everywhere i went i was getting consistent speeds of more than 45+Mbps everywhere. Here in los Angeles with both T-Mobile and verizon it aint like that. I can be getting 25+ mbps on one street ,walk down another street and get 5mbps then walk another street and get 10mbps then walk another street and get less than 1 mbps its a mixed bag.

4. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"Someone told me speed is faster over there because there's not a lot of people in the network. That's bull**** mexico city is one of the largest city's in the world with the most people in the world.so in sure there were A LOT of people in the network." The person who told you that is correct. The US' s low LTE speeds is due to network congestion. The US's population is much bigger than Mexico!

5. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

You might consider a comparison against Washington D.C. System upgrades and priorities go to places with more money, people, or influence. The capital of a country would definitely fall into that category. As for LA, were you in an area with lots of buildings?

6. rebretz

Posts: 114; Member since: Dec 26, 2011

Are we really surprised that the U.S. cellular infrastructure is lagging behind other countries? For all the hoopla about America it lags behind a lot a lot countries in a lot of categories. The U.S. was once a leader in many aspects but those days are long gone.

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