The United States isn't in the top 60 countries by average 4G LTE download speeds, according to the latest edition of "The State of LTE" study authored by OpenSignal, with the London-based wireless company putting the U.S. average at 13.98Mbps, which is even lower than the 14.99Mbps figure reported by the same firm in June. The score puts the U.S. at the 61st place in the world by 4G LTE download speeds, suggesting that its wireless carriers are still struggling to provide consumers with cutting-edge service. The highest average was observed in Singapore and amounted to 46.64Mbps, being followed by South Korea, Norway, Hungary, and the Netherlands, the latter of which is the only country in the top five to drop below the 40Mbps mark.
In terms of general 4G LTE availability, the U.S. is doing much better, placing fifth with a coverage of nearly 87 percent. Hong Kong and Norway also scored in the high 80s and took the fourth and third place on the same list, respectively, with the chart being led by Norway at third, Japan at second, and South Korea at the top position, having 4G LTE coverage of almost 97 percent. Unlike similar studies, OpenSignal doesn't measure wireless coverage on a geographic basis, with the company instead opting to track the percentage of time during which a representative sample of users has access to 4G LTE while using any cellular network. This approach completely eliminates the impact of dead zones with no coverage but also allows areas covered with 4G LTE by only some wireless carriers to reduce the overall score in an attempt to serve as a more reliable indicator of how often do consumers in any given country actually have access to a high-speed mobile connection.
In the last five months since OpenSignal's last report, not a single country managed to break the 50Mbps average download speed despite a handful of them showing some potential to do so, the new findings show. This trend appears to be intentional, with many mobile service providers now apparently placing a much larger focus on expanding their coverage instead of improving their average speeds, and a significant portion of their resources also being committed to maintaining and increasing the reliability of their networks. This state of affairs still allows 4G LTE connectivity to continue expanding its availability, albeit its real-world performance continues to vary to a great degree depending on the territory.
OpenSignal's findings on 4G speeds around the globe are impacted by numerous factors, from the exact technologies adopted by individual wireless carriers to telecommunications regulators and their decisions on how much spectrum to make available, as well as operators' choices in regards to the amount of spectrum to dedicate to 4G networks. Unsurprisingly, the report reveals that countries with high adoption rates of wireless technologies appear to have the highest average download speeds, with those very same nations also being statistically more likely to have a higher number of 4G LTE-enabled devices.
While the British company didn't specifically detail the case of the United States, the fact that stateside download speeds are worse by around seven percentage points on average compared to their June performance may be partially explained by the unlimited race in the country that's still heating up. T-Mobile would likely agree with that assessment, with the Bellevue, Washington-based company and its CEO John Legere always being keen to claim that Verizon "can't keep up" with providing unlimited plans, though the drop in average speeds across all carriers may also be a result of a business strategy and not a byproduct of any technical shortcomings.
OpenSignal is convinced that the stagnation of average 4G download speeds around the world is just a temporary development and that network performance will resume its trend of improvements in the near future, possibly even by the time its next report is set to be completed in mid-2018. The United States also isn't the only country whose average download speeds have been declining, suggesting that existing wireless technologies that are in widespread use may have plateaued and that new advancements are needed. Refer to the banner below for a more in-depth breakdown of OpenSignal's findings, as well as two interactive maps visualizing the company's latest report.