Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada, and Telus Corp.’s dominance of Canada’s mobile market might be a key reason the average Canadian’s wireless fees are among the highest in the world, but at least all three provide equally reliable service, according to a new report.
London, U.K.-based OpenSignal, which uses crowdsourced data from its eponymous app to gauge signal strength in wireless markets around the world, has released a report evaluating Canada’s so-called “big three” – and concluded that Bell, Telus, and Rogers all provide similar levels of high-quality service.
“From a network perspective, Bell, Rogers and Telus all have more in common than not,” the company wrote in the report. “All three are fast and offer excellent access to LTE signals to the point no single operator dominated any of OpenSignal’s metrics.”
The “State of Mobile Networks” report, OpenSignal’s second for Canada, drew from 289 million datapoints during a sample period spanning between Oct. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016, and measured three key characteristics for Canada’s three major operators: network availability, speed, and latency.
The company found that Bell and Telus shared the gold medal for speed, with overlapping statistical margins between Telus’s 30.5 Mbps LTE network and Bell’s 28.4 Mbps network resulting in a draw. A similar result occurred when OpenSignal tested 3G speeds, with Bell and Telus averaging 6.3 Mbps and 6.2 Mbps, respectively.
However, it was Rogers that statistically tied with Telus for first place in the company’s 4G availability metric – a close contest in which all three were separated by only two percentage points.
OpenSignal noted that it was hardly a surprise that Bell and Telus offered similar speeds, since the two wireless giants share an extensive network that not only involves shared towers and radio access infrastructure but also shared spectrum. The results aren’t exactly the same because both companies are traditionally stronger in different regions of the country. They also maintain different network cores which, OpenSignal noted, can lead to subtle differences in performance – particularly in latency, the only characteristic in which one of the big three came out unambiguously ahead.
Latency measures the length of a delay as data travels from one network point to another. Like golf, the lower the latency score, the more responsive the network – and Telus had the most responsive latency measurement, of 73.2ms on a 3G network and 43.6ms on a 4G network.
More importantly, however, each of Canada’s big three stood out on the global stage: With nearly 80 per cent LTE availability and average speeds of nearly 30 Mbps, Telus, Rogers, and Bell all landed in the top tier of global 4G performance.
“The slowest Canadian 4G network in our tests was still 10 Mbps faster than the global LTE average connection speed of 17.4 Mbps,” OpenSignal wrote.
Canada even beats its neighbour to the south, the company argued: while Canada’s service providers lag slightly behind the U.S. in LTE availability, they make up for it in performance. The average Canadian 4G connection is 26.6 Mbps, OpenSignal said – nearly double the power of a typical U.S. connection.
Check out OpenSignal’s breakdown of how the big three scored in network availability, speed, and latency below (click for a larger version).