5G is already boosting mobile network speeds in some small countries, Ookla Speedtest finds
Both wired and wireless network speeds are getting faster, although fixed broadband is accelerating more quickly than wireless, according to new analysis from Ookla Speedtest. The company also found a discernible impact on some country-level network speeds from early 5G deployments.
Ookla says in a new report on global internet speeds that the mean download speed over mobile networks was up 21.4% between July 2018 and July 2019, rising from 22.81 Mbps to 27.69 Mbps. On wired networks, the world average download speed was up 37.4% year-over-year, to 63.85 Mbps in July of this year versus 46.48 Mbps last summer.
Mean mobile upload speeds continue to operate at a fraction of download speeds: 10.78 Mbps in July 2019, an 18.1% increase from 9.13 Mbps in July 2018. On the wired network, Ookla pegged the mean upload speed at 33.53 Mbps, a 48.9% increase from the same time last year.
On a country-by-country basis, 5G is already having a noticeable impact on some country’s mobile network speeds. South Korea wasn’t even in Ookla Speedtest’s top ten-fastest countries last year. This year, it is in first place. In general, Ookla said, “mobile speeds in the fastest countries have skyrocketed in the past year” and noted that in South Korea’s case, its mean download speed saw a 165.9% increase in the past year. That was driven in large part by 5G deployment, the company added.
“A big part of South Korea’s mobile success in the past year is the way KT, LG U+ and SK Telecom banded together to release 5G at the same time,” Ookla’s Isla McKetta, head of content, wrote in a blog post on the data.
In Switzerland, which also has 5G networks deployed, the mean download speed was up 23.5% year-over-year. However, while Ookla said that 5G has the “potential to rocket a country to the top” of its mobile rankings, it tempered that with some caveats. Geographic size, the extent of 5G build-out and device availability all play a role in the extent to which 5G affects mean download speed at a national level.
In reality, McKetta wrote, “unless 5G is commercially available widely across a country and from all mobile operators (as was the case in South Korea), the change in speeds at the country level is not that significant. Though commercial 5G was launched widely across Switzerland by Sunrise and Swisscom in April 2019, the country’s mean download speed only increased 2.8% in the three months since. The average mobile download speed in the U.S. has actually declined slightly since 5G was initially deployed. This is because 5G is still only available in a very limited number of markets to consumers with 5G-capable devices.”
The countries with the fastest mobile networks, as ranked by mean download speed via Ookla Speedtest, are:
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
Ookla began ranking mobile and fixed network speeds from countries around the world two years ago. Get the full details of its latest report here.
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