How availability of mobile spectrum impacts speed of networks?

The availability of mobile spectrum has a significant impact on the download and upload speeds for both 4G and 5G networks, Opensignal’s latest study said.
Mobile spectrum and download speedThe study, which encompassed over 115 countries and more than 300 operators, found that higher amounts of spectrum resulted in remarkable speed improvements, with 4G experiencing the most prominent increase.

According to the analysis, users connecting to 4G services with greater spectrum capacity witnessed a nearly linear increase in download speeds. The average 4G download speeds rose by 43.3 percent when utilizing 20-40MHz spectrum bandwidth compared to connections with 20MHz or less spectrum. This trend continued as more spectrum was employed, with download speeds reaching 2.6 times faster for connections utilizing over 60MHz of mobile spectrum.

Similarly, 5G networks exhibited substantial improvements in download speeds with increased spectrum. Speeds soared from 160.2Mbps for 50MHz or less bandwidth to 277.8Mbps for more than 150MHz. This represented a remarkable 73.4 percent increase between the lowest and highest amounts of connected spectrum analyzed.
Mobile spectrum and upload speedThe study also highlighted the impact of spectrum on upload speeds. While download speeds generally received greater attention from operators, higher spectrum bandwidth positively affected upload speeds as well. With over 40MHz of spectrum capacity, the average 4G upload speed was over 9Mbps, more than a third faster than connections with 40MHz or less spectrum. In the case of 5G, upload speeds increased by over 50 percent, rising from 19.1Mbps for bandwidths of 50MHz or below to 29Mbps for bandwidths exceeding 150MHz.

Moreover, the analysis examined the influence of spectrum on user experience with video and gaming applications. In terms of gaming, users enjoyed an improved Games Experience on 4G networks with greater spectrum. However, this enhancement was not yet evident on 5G.

On the other hand, Video Experience witnessed improvements with more spectrum on 5G, although the increase was not as significant as the boost observed in average speed. The lower congestion levels on 5G networks contributed to enhanced mobile video streaming, while multiplayer gaming, which relies on small packets, did not benefit as significantly from additional spectrum capacity.

“With higher amounts of mobile spectrum users see faster download and upload speeds — both for 4G and 5G networks — with download speed increases of up to 2.6 times on higher spectrum bandwidth with 4G, and by up to 1.7 times on 5G,” Opensignal’s Robert Wyrzykowski said.

Opensignal’s study offers valuable insights into the impact of mobile spectrum on network performance. As the demand for faster and more reliable connectivity continues to grow, the findings emphasize the importance of sufficient spectrum allocation for operators to deliver optimal user experiences in both 4G and 5G networks.