Costa Rica ranks just above average in 4G mobile coverage

February 25, 2016

A study on 4G LTE mobile networks ranks Costa Rica’s carriers just above the world average in terms of performance and coverage. Just over 40 percent of the country is covered by 4G networks.

South Korea topped the list of countries where 4G — the newest and fastest mobile network — performs the best, with 97 percent of the country covered.

Japan ranked second with 90 percent coverage, while Hong Kong was third with 86 percent.

The U.S. ranked 7th with 81 percent, while Costa Rica ranked 67th with 41 percent coverage, just above Sri Lanka with 39 percent.

The only other Central American country included in the study, Guatemala, ranked well above Costa Rica, with 4G mobile coverage in 57 percent of the country.

In most countries evaluated in the study, 4G coverage ranged from 40 to 75 percent and with speeds ranging between 8 and 25 megabits per second (Mbps).

The study also found average speeds worldwide are “in a fair range from 8 to 25 Megabits per second (Mbps).” The best rating was for mobile carriers in Singapore that recorded an average speed of 37 Mbps, followed by New Zealand with 29 and Hungary with 27.

The report by London-based consulting company OpenSignal was conducted between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015 and is based on real-time data collected by a mobile phone app in 187 countries.

Country benchmarks

The report only included results from Costa Rica’s state-owned ICE-Kölbi, the carrier with the most extensive coverage. However an interactive map (see below) at OpenSignal’s website shows Internet coverage and speed comparisons for 2G, 3G and 4G networks that include private carriers Movistar and Claro.

According to the map, ICE-Kölbi offers the best geographical coverage followed by Movistar, while Claro’s 4G network only appears to cover a limited area within the Central Valley.

The country scored poorly on Internet speed: ICE Kölbi ranked 179th out of 187 countries, with an average speed of 3 Mbps, just above Iran.

ICE’s manager of innovation and business strategy Francia Picado in a written response said overall results are very positive as they show that ICE-Kölbi is currently the only telecommunications company offering a real 4G LTE network in Costa Rica.

“The report does not even show results from other carriers,” Picado noted.

The interactive map for download speed, however, shows Claro is the fastest 4G network in Costa Rica with 12 Mbps, followed by ICE-Kölbi with 2.7 and Movistar with 2.6.

As for upload speed Claro again is first with 9.2 Mbps, Movistar is second with 5.9 Mbps and ICE-Kölbi is third with 2.3 Mbps.

Picado said the data collection for the report was conducted during a period when ICE was working on improvements to its 4G network.

The company noted that, as opposed to drive-test data, which simulates the typical user experience by employing a limited set of devices to measure networks in a small number of locations, “OpenSignal takes its measurements from smartphones owned by normal people and are taken wherever users happen to be, whether indoors or out, in a city or in the countryside, representing performance the way users experience it.”

4G coverage map by Open Signal
Click here to see the live version of the interactive map showing 2G, 3G and 4G network coverage/speed in Costa Rica by carrier. Map by Open Signal

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