4G speeds have stalled and even decreased in some of the world’s most developed LTE markets, although availability of the technology continues to expand globally, OpenSignal revealed.

In its latest State of LTE report (measuring LTE performance in 77 countries between July and end-September) the wireless mapping company found the number of “top performing countries” with average 4G data rates of more than 20Mb/s is falling rather than increasing.

OpenSignal added no new country had joined the “40Mb/s club” since its last report (covering the three months to end-June), while exceeding the 50Mb/s barrier continued to prove elusive.

Indeed, in its previous LTE report, OpenSignal anticipated it would soon see a country exceed 50Mb/s on average 4G download speeds, setting a new benchmark. But the closest market in the latest reaserch was Singapore which averaged 46.6Mb/s.

The number of countries hitting an average download speed of 30Mb/s declined from 14 in its June report to 13, while 42 countries managed a speed of 20Mb/s or greater, down from 45 countries that achieved the feat six months ago.

“A year ago it appeared 4G speeds were steadily marching forward across the globe, and it wouldn’t be long before we saw our first 50Mb/s-plus country. Now it appears mobile speeds have stalled,” the company wrote.

Developed markets
But, it was not all doom and gloom: OpenSignal noted typical download data rates improved slightly from 16.2Mb/s to 16.6Mb/s in the last six months.

This is an indication average data rates are growing in developing countries, offsetting any declines in developed markets.

OpenSignal noted the drop in overall LTE speeds isn’t necessarily bad news, explaining the market had “hit a plateau in LTE technological evolution”.

“4G’s first movers in the developed world have built out their LTE-Advanced infrastructure and are now focused on bringing all of their customers to these new high-powered networks,” the company stated, adding: “Meanwhile, in the developing world operators have largely completed their initial LTE rollouts and are turning their 3G customers into 4G customers.”

Availability increase
To that end, there is now a bigger focus on availability rather than speed. OpenSignal found increases in 4G availability in “almost every country covered” in the report.

The study found 50 countries were able to provide an LTE signal more than 70 per cent of the time, up from 33 countries at end-September 2016.

Availability in “elite countries” is also on the rise, with 20 countries hitting a 4G signal of 80 per cent or greater, compared to 16 countries achieving the feat six months prior.

Two countries, meanwhile, managed to break the 90 per cent mark; South Korea and Singapore.