back to article Turns out download speed isn't everything when streaming video on your smartphone

The Czech Republic and Hungary top the world for mobile video performance – even though they don't have the fastest networks. While politicos and telco marketing departments are obsessed with the headline figure of broadband speeds, the download rate doesn't give you the complete picture of network performance – particularly …

  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    How many devices are active in the top countries?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Exactly, contention ratio.

    2. JetSetJim Silver badge

      The UK has gone past 85% smartphone penetration into the population, suspect it's similar elsewhere in the study

    3. hellwig

      re: active devices

      Yep, I'd rather share a 100mbps connection with 10 people, than a 1gbps connection with 1000 people.

  2. Herring`

    Ah. A graph without a scale. Very informative.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Not forgetting a metric without defined units beyond a percentage and a wishy-washy phrase about video quality & buffering.

      At the end of the day, if the network can offer more than sufficient speed to serve a video, the buffering shouldn't be an issue as the s/w should be able to work far enough ahead. At the application layer, there's usually some rate adaptation stuff built into the s/w to optimise what the user sees based on the end-to-end connection characteristics.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Judging by the size of the bars

      It doesn't look like the countries at the bottom are all that much worse off than those on the top. Seems like alarmist nonsense created by someone with an axe to grind.

      Wireless coverage mapper OpenSignal's... Ah, there we go.

  3. m0rt

    I'd be happy with reliable voice and even 3g across everywhere.

    Hey ho.

    1. Dan Wilkie

      Living in rural Devon, I'd happily accept anything without having to walk to the end of the road where it's slightly elevated.

      They're always campaigning locally to get us better mobile signal.

      And then they always campaign against plans to build a new mobile mast.

      It's like the two are somehow linked...

      1. m0rt

        You live in rural Devon. You have vast niceness. Can't you get a mast disguised as a maypole or something?

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Using a smartphone in rural Devon is likely to get you burned at the stake.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Wonder what would happen if they threaten that and you respond by using your smartphone to request a helicopter water drop...

  4. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Interesting picture. Most of the countries at the top of the list are small countries with lower infrastructure requirements (you see the same trend with wired performance: the best performers tend to be small countries like South Korea). The first "big" country on the list appears to be Australia. Also, the article seems to be missing something. WHY isn't speed everything? What else do these top performers provide that improve video performance: lower latency, higher provision, what?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      The best explanation I can think of is coverage, such that a country with good download speeds but bad video would have a fast network that isn't reliable, probably when moving. Video consumed while on a train or something like that could cut out a lot. But really, I have no clue. Maybe the article could get some more details?

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        > Maybe the article could get some more details?

        OpenSignal don't publish much more in the way of detail. They collect "stats" from their app that is installed on myriad devices around the world. The app presumably collects RF and performance metrics much like other network performance monitoring apps (e.g. Root Metrics), perhaps even running their own in-app performance tests to test network speed, jitter and whatnot while collecting GPS. These are then rolled up into the metrics they publish.

        Knowing a little about programming for Android, and that iOS is more restrictive, it seems unlikely that they are collecting information about YouTube & iPlayer performance, but are instead spoofing a video stream from a server to their app, collecting packet timings if at all possible. OpenSignal then infer some sort of score based on how much jitter there is and how the bandwidth varies during the test, possibly assuming a minimum required bitrate to support a video stream, perhaps adding in some magic to cover application buffering.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Most of the countries on this list are what right wing americans would call "socialist failed states"..

    3. Steve the Cynic

      What else do these top performers provide that improve video performance: lower latency, higher provision, what?

      I would say that the two key metrics for "video performance" (the term's a little vague), once there's enough bandwidth available for the stream, would be jitter (crude definition: variation in latency) and packet loss. Both of those should be as low as feasible, and both are dependent on a wide range of stuff, of which the number of devices on the network *relative to the network equipment provision* is a major contributor. (That returns to the theme of 10:1 contention in a 100Mbps network being better than 1000:1 in a 1Gbps network.)

  5. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Empty assertion with no data to back it up

    The article states, "... which derived the data from 87 billion measurements on 8 million devices between May and August this year."

    But neglects to say *what* was measured. There is also no mention of *how* video streaming is degraded. As such it is akin to saying "Persil washes whiter." IOW a completely meaningless statement because it lacks any terms of reference. Maybe video quality is rated higher in some countries because the local YouTube servers are less loaded and it has sod-all to do with the mobile network. Or maybe it is rated according to users' subjective opinion and they have cuter looking kittens in that country.

    1. Keven E

      Re: Empty assertion with no data to back it up

      Nice ranking, US. No surprise... the monopolies are keeping the supply side as expensive as possible by loudly marketing just the little bit better "coverage" than the next guy (of which there really are only two, at the most in any area) and over selling capacity. They aren't selling an *actual customer service... just the illusion of it.

  6. jobst

    Missing info.

    The article has loads of missing info:

    1) legends on the graph

    2) what was measured and how

    3) network speed, band specs and protocol

    4) density of users

    5) density and quality of tower equipment

    so not very well researched.

    Also surprised to see Australia up there considering we are unique that 95% live in cities but those cities are area wise very, very large. Also how can you compare that to a country like Germany where in the Ruhr Valley (Ruhrgebiet) nearly live more people than in entire Australia?

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Missing info.

      that to a country like Germany where in the Ruhr Valley (Ruhrgebiet) nearly live more people than in entire Australia?

      Um, Australia population ~ 25 million.

      Ruhr Valley population ~ 5.6 million.

      But that aside.... pffft. You call that sparse?

      Just Sydney, Australia, has about 33% bigger population than the whole of Wales, and a population density roughly 14 times greater.


  7. Eddy Ito

    USA! US-hey?

    Well, 59th isn't so bad. At least we're out of the bottom 10 [golf-clap].

    Hmm, maybe that's why Spectrum keeps asking me if I want to sign up for their TV bundle. Could they know streaming video on their internet service is totally craptastic? Why it's almost like it's intentional.

  8. Zmodem

    you can watch 1080p for hours on three 3G, it normally runs at 10Mbps and can handle the bitrate of the video and audio, most networks are to dumb to understand especially if it has anything todo with BT, and throttle your connection to 0.5Mbps

    take advantage of three's go binge with free mobile app data for netflix and miracast it to the TV

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