Telco coverage mapping company OpenSignal has released its Q3 2015 report into the state of 4G LTE worldwide, reporting that while Australia has increased its average download speed by 5Mbps and covered an extra 2 percent of the population with 4G over the past three months, it has dropped one place on coverage and retained the same ranking for speed.
While Optus claims that its 4G network covers 90 percent of the population, Vodafone Australia says it covers 96 percent of the population, and Telstra lays claim to covering 94 percent of the population; according to OpenSignal, Vodafone covers 77 percent, Telstra 76 percent, and Optus 70 percent.
OpenSignal calculates "time coverage" by taking a reading from devices every 10 to 15 minutes to see whether they are connected to a 2G, 3G, or 4G network. The company then takes the proportion of time per mobile device, takes the average, and comes up with each telco's level of time providing 4G coverage.
Australia is positioned 14th in global 4G coverage, after South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Singapore, Uruguay, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Bahrain, the United States, Sweden, China, and Qatar. Australia has 74 percent coverage, according to the report, while first-placed South Korea covers 97 percent.
Telecommunications carrier LGT in South Korea is the number one provider worldwide, covering 100 percent of its users' time with its 4G network. Australia's telcos Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus earned 29th, 34th, and 52nd places worldwide, respectively.
In regards to speeds, however, New Zealand -- which is ranked a distant equal 48th place with Morocco and Italy in terms of coverage, covering only 51 percent of its population with 4G -- provides the fastest 4G network on average, with download speeds of 36Mbps. Only one telco was taken into account, however. Australia is in equal ninth place, alongside Greece, with an average download speed of 21Mbps.
Singaporean telco StarHub provides the fastest overall speed out of all carriers worldwide, at 38Mbps. Telstra is in 21st place, at speeds of 23Mbps; Vodafone is in 37th place and Optus is in 43rd place, both with average download speeds of 19Mbps. Spark, the only New Zealand telco accounted for in the report, is in eighth place, with 29Mbps download speeds.
By comparison, for Q2 2015, Australia was one place higher for coverage, in 13th place with 72 percent coverage. Telstra, Vodafone, and Optus were in 34th, 39th, and 47th places, respectively.
Australia held down equal ninth spot alongside Taiwan and Greece for average download speed in Q2, at 16Mbps. Optus had the fastest speed out of the Australian carriers last quarter, in 26th place globally at 17Mbps; Telstra and Vodafone followed in 33rd and 38th places, both at 16Mbps.
Optus has been switching on its 4G+ network in Newcastle and Melbourne, with more major cities planned for the future -- trailing Telstra and Vodafone by more than six months, which in November had activated their own 4G-Advanced networks in Melbourne.