4G LTE speeds in the US are causing a “considerable drag” on global averages, according to a new report by OpenSignal, as the country struggles to advance its networks in the face of spectrum and technology challenges.

The study, which analysed both 4G worldwide availability and speeds based on 17 billion measurements from half a million OpenSignal 4G users, found that the US was achieving average 4G speeds of just 13Mb/s, below the global average of 17.4Mb/s.

To put the US performance into context, major Asian rivals Singapore and South Korea both achieved speeds of nearly 46Mb/s, while 8 countries fell into the 30 to 40Mb/s range. Notably, India was the lowest scoring in tests, with average speeds of 6.4Mb/s.

However, when it comes to 4G availability, it was some major western European countries that struggled, with countries including France, Germany, Italy and the UK languishing well below the 60 per cent mark for offering LTE.

The US, meanwhile, achieved more than 80 per cent, along with 10 other countries, from Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

OpenSignal found there were several countries with high 4G availability, such as the US, India and Kuwait, but which struggled with ‘low’ speeds, while other countries had fast LTE, but fairly low availability, such as Turkey, New Zealand and Romania.

“A lot of disparity between countries has to do with their own unique mobile markets,” said OpenSignal.

It highlighted the example in Turkey, where the majority of its 4G networks went live in April, “but they did so with a bang”, when three of the country’s operators launched LTE on multiple frequency bands, and all used LTE-Advanced for superfast connections.

However, they are still in the midst of building out 4G infrastructure, so finding a signal is a challenge.

In the case of the US, it has exactly the opposite situation.

US limitations
“It was among one of the first adopters of LTE technology and it’s built one of the most extensive 4G infrastructures in the world, hence its top 10 in 4G availability, but it’s still limited by spectrum and technology,” read the report.

“It can’t yet match LTE-Advanced networks that we’re seeing in many countries in the world.”

And the challenge for the US to keep up is only set to increase.

OpenSignal said it anticipates LTE speeds to be pushing beyond 50Mb/s in the near future.