Mobile networks outpacing Wi-Fi around the world

The common assumption that a Wi-Fi hotspot is faster than cellular data is not always true as a new study from OpenSignal has revealed that mobile data is faster than Wi-Fi in 33 countries.

The difference in speed is also quite striking and in places like Australia, Oman and the Czech Republic cellular users typically have a 10Mbps advantage over Wi-Fi. However, in places like Austria, Iran and South Africa, cellular networks have a multi-megabit advantage over Wi-Fi.

There are also many countries where cellular and wireless speeds are about the same. In countries with relatively fast home broadband such as Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and the US, Wi-Fi has a clear advantage over cellular networks.

At the same time though, LTE offers a clear advantage in areas like Lebanon where download speeds tend to be 25Mbps faster than on Wi-Fi.

Arrival of 5G

The findings of OpenSignal's study suggest that device manufacturers and users need to rethink the assumption that Wi-Fi is always faster than cellular data. While that may have been the case when smartphones first arrived, it is no longer true in many areas of the world.

With 5G set to roll out next year, cellular speeds are set to improve even further. Though just as it was with the introduction of 4G LTE, there will likely be issues that lead consumers to switch back to Wi-Fi instead of staying on cellular data.

Disruptive Wireless' Dean Bubley explained to The Register how it will be difficult to ensure good coverage indoors during the early days of 5G, saying:

"At 26/28GHz, there will need to be an outdoor unit, connected to an indoor Wi-Fi-enabled hub. But it will need power, either way. So either people need to run an electricity cable up the wall of the building, or drill a hole for a power-over-Ethernet cable between them. And install the outdoor antenna on a bracket (like satellite dishes of yore). Not self-install, and not great if you live in an apartment or rented house." 

Via The Register

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