Mobile speeds now better than Wi-Fi in 33 countries

But it's still better to be on a wireless network in the UK according to new report

Smartphone users in 33 countries now experience faster average download speeds using a mobile network than using Wi-Fi, according to research.

In the State of Wi-Fi vs Mobile Network Experience as 5G Arrives report, published by mobile analytics company OpenSignal, Australia tops the world when it comes to getting the most from mobile data speeds. Smartphone users experienced average download speeds 13 Mbps faster on mobile than Wi-Fi down under.

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However, in Hong Kong, Singapore and the US, the mobile experience bucks the global trend and significantly underperforms compared with smartphone users' Wi-Fi. In the US, Wi-Fi is still faster by 25Mbps on average. 

In the UK, Wi-Fi speeds average around 30.8Mbps (compared to mobile speeds of 19Mbps). 

The report said that a decade ago Wi-Fi was faster than mobile almost all of the time as well as being cheaper and offering much greater capacity. Since then, the world has "changed dramatically", the report added with 4G networks boosting the quality of smartphone users' experiences.

"The perception that mobile networks are inferior to Wi-Fi has persisted, wrongly," said the report. Overall, 41% of the 80 countries analysed by OpenSignal experience faster downloads on mobile compared to Wi-Fi.

The report added that 5G will accelerate the advantage of mobile technology "because of the pace of mobile innovation and the dependency of Wi-Fi network experiences on the quality of fixed network broadband deployments which are slow and expensive to upgrade with fibre to the premise (FTTP)".

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OpenSignal said mobile operators and smartphone makers must "re-evaluate their Wi-Fi strategies", especially around mobile offload, automatic network selection and indoor coverage, to ensure they do not accidentally push consumers' smartphones onto a Wi-Fi network with a worse experience than the mobile network.

"Wi-Fi no longer has a guaranteed advantage over mobile in the speed experience it offers smartphone users. With 5G, there will be many more countries where mobile delivers a faster experience than Wi-Fi," the report said.

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