OpenSignal published a report recently detailing the current state of LTE coverage and download speeds around the world and the top countries with the best LTE might surprise you. Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong currently dominate the top 3 spots of the ranking respectively with coverage in South Korea leading with 97 percent LTE coverage, followed by Japan with 90 percent and Hong Kong coming in at 86%. The US comes in at a respectable tenth place while most European countries occupy a good chunk in the middle.
However, while the above countries have a larger LTE coverage, the rankings are different when it comes to download speeds and the report shows that it is actually countries who have only recently started implementing LTE that are the ones with faster download speeds. In this case, New Zealand, which launched their LTE just 2 years ago is the country that comes out on top with an average download speed of 36Mbps, which is significantly higher compared to the top countries like South Korea and Hong Kong which averages at about 29Mbps and 11Mbps respectively.
Early adopters of LTE such as the US, Sweden, and Germany have also started showing decrease in download speeds with averages from 10 to 13Mbps. Why countries like New Zealand and Singapore are able to achieve such high download speeds as compared to the US, who is an early adopter of LTE and has a significantly larger coverage area considering the size of the country comes down to the number of users on LTE. The US introduced LTE back in 2010 and the number of users have gone up tremendously in the course of five years. Because of this, “those subscribers are all competing for the same network resources, slowing down average speeds.” Countries with higher download speeds are usually those who have only recently launched LTE, “newer networks in South America and Europe are more lightly loaded.”
South Korea, while not being the top when it comes to download speeds despite the coverage area has managed to stay high in the rankings because they are expanding their LTE network into more frequencies so as to keep up with the increasing number of users. The US can do the same and start expanding into different network frequencies and LTE-Advanced.