A recent analysis conducted by Opensignal has shed light on the profound influence of spectrum bandwidth on mobile user experiences across various Asia Pacific (APAC) markets. The study examined the effects of both wider spectrum bandwidths and inadequate spectrum resources on mobile connectivity quality, particularly in terms of download speeds for 4G and 5G networks.
According to Opensignal’s findings, users in the APAC region observe strikingly faster 4G and 5G download speeds when connected to larger amounts of spectrum bandwidth as compared to lower amounts. In particular, the data indicates that 4G download speeds can be up to two or even three times faster with extensive spectrum bandwidth connections, while 5G download speeds are approximately 50 percent quicker under similar circumstances. This disparity in performance due to spectrum bandwidth is more pronounced on 4G networks than on 5G networks.
The analysis by Opensignal encompassed average 4G download speeds in the APAC region, categorizing them based on five different levels of spectrum bandwidth connections. These levels reflect the total spectrum currently in use across all connected carriers. For 4G networks, a single carrier’s maximum bandwidth is 20MHz, whereas 5G networks can have a total bandwidth per connection of up to 100MHz. This capacity can exceed the aforementioned limits when carrier aggregation is employed.
When users connect with larger amounts of 4G spectrum bandwidth, they experience notably accelerated average download speeds across APAC markets. This observation holds true even as 5G networks continue to roll out. In areas where 4G is still dominant, it significantly contributes to the 5G experience, especially in non-standalone access (NSA) scenarios, the report said.
Specifically, Opensignal’s data reveals that average 4G download speeds spike significantly when more spectrum bandwidth is utilized. For instance, average download speeds for bandwidths of 20-40MHz — indicating the use of at least two 4G carriers — are 55.2 percent faster than connections employing 20MHz or less spectrum capacity.
The download speed score climbs even higher when three or more carriers are used in conjunction with more than 40MHz of spectrum. With over 80MHz of mobile spectrum connected, average 4G download speeds skyrocket to 64.1Mbps, nearly three times faster than speeds achieved with only 0-20MHz of spectrum.
Similarly, wider spectrum bandwidth significantly boosts 5G download speeds across the APAC region. When smartphones are connected to more than 100MHz of total spectrum capacity, average 5G download speeds reach 271.4Mbps — a substantial 50 percent increase compared to 5G speeds using 100MHz or less spectrum bandwidth. Notably, while there is only a 3.3 percent increase in 5G download speeds for bandwidths of 50-100MHz compared to 0-50MHz, the impact of wider bandwidth is still evident.
Among the APAC markets studied, Malaysia stands out as the most notable beneficiary of wider spectrum bandwidth. Users in Malaysia experience speeds nearly twice as fast for bandwidths of 40-60MHz, and 2.3 times faster for 60-80MHz spectrum capacity, as compared to the baseline of 0-20MHz bandwidth. In Indonesia, 4G download speeds more than double with the use of more than 60MHz of spectrum, and similar trends are observed in Australia and South Korea. Meanwhile, the impact is somewhat less pronounced in Japan, with speeds around 40 percent faster for 40-60MHz bandwidths and slightly over 70 percent faster for 60-80MHz.
Overall, the Opensignal study underscores the critical role that spectrum bandwidth plays in shaping mobile user experiences in the Asia Pacific region. As users demand faster and more reliable connectivity, this analysis provides valuable insights for both network operators and regulators aiming to optimize network performance and customer satisfaction.