A new data that show that African countries like Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria are doing well in terms of 4G availability and speed have Nigeria conspicuously absent.
4G stands for the fourth generation of data technology for cellular networks – following 3G, the third generation. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and is short for a technical process for high-speed data for phones and other mobile devices. The specification for 4G standards was decided in March 2008, by the International Telecommunications Union-Radio (ITU-R), a United Nations official agency for all manner of information and communication.
The ITU-R decided that LTE, the name given to the technology used in pursuit of those standards, could be labelled as 4G, if it provided a substantial improvement over the 3G technology. A user that requires a lot of data each month or relies on their smartphone or tablet to browse the internet, 4G LTE is usually the best choice.
Telecommunication companies in Nigeria such as Spectranet, Smile, iPNx, Glo and MTN, have been rolling out 4G LTE internet services to subscribers. However, availability to more consumers and speed of the services has yet to be felt. Broadband is also growing at a very snail pace. In 2017, fixed broadband grew only 1 percent.
Customers experiences of the existing 4G LTE services mostly negative puts a question on the claims of most of the telecom companies.
According to OpenSignal the company that conducted the 4G LTE research and released it in February 2018, how fast a country’s 4G speed is can depend on many factors including how much spectrum is devoted to LTE, whether it has adopted new 4G technologies like LTE Advanced, how densely networks are built and how much congestion is on those networks. Countries with the fastest speeds tend to be the ones that have built LTE-Advanced networks and have a large proportion of LTE-Advanced capable devices.
In terms of availability, Morocco with 69.34 percent to rank 60th on the globe, led other countries on the African continent. Cote d’Ivoire followed closely at 69.30 percent (61st). OpenSignal measured availability by tracking the proportion of time users have access to a particular network.
On the whole, consumers in five countries had access to an LTE connection more than 90 percent of the time – up from a mere two countries just three months ago.
While nations like Singapore, Netherlands, Norway and South Korea occupy the top four positions of 4G speed in the world, South Africa leads the rest of Africa as the country with the fastest 4G speed.
“There is no hard and fast rule, though. Countries can have highly accessible networks, but their speeds can be limited by capacity constraints. Meanwhile countries with new LTE networks may have limited 4G availability but, due to their light loads, can support considerably fast speeds,” OpenSignal noted in the report.
The report suggests that the industry may have reached the limit to what current technology, spectral bandwidth and mobile economics can support on a national level. Citing previous reports, OpenSignal says the average LTE download speeds appear to have stalled at just over 45 Mbps.
“The industry is still waiting on that spark that will push speeds beyond 50 Mbps on a national level,” the report noted.