Last year, RootMetrics, an independent U.S.-based network performance company, performed its first Canada-wide mobile speed test in several high-density cities. The results largely favoured Telus and Bell, especially in Ontario and Eastern Canada, with Videotron taking top spot in Quebec and Rogers performing best in the Metro Vancouver area.
The company is at it again for its H2 2015 performance index. It found that Rogers has since been supplanted in both speed and response times, or latency in the Vancouver area. Based on more than 25,000 tests, which included phone calls, text messages and data usage at all times of the day throughout April 2015, Telus nearly doubled its median download speeds over LTE, from 15Mbps to 26Mbps, while more than quadrupling its median upload speeds, from 4Mbps to 18Mbps. Bell also raised its game in Vancouver, rising from a median download speed of 17Mbps to 24Mbps, and more than doubling its median upload speeds, from 7Mbps to 15Mbps.
RootMetrics claims that while Rogers didn’t come first in a single test, it did still manage to earn the fastest scores, though far less consistently, at 35Mbps and 20Mbps median download and upload speeds, respectively. Most criticisms of Rogers’ service involved dropped or blocked calls.
“There are two major reasons for changes in the Overall RootScore rankings: Bell’s and Telus’s own improvements; and weaker call performance from Rogers,” said Annette Hamilton, RootMetrics’ director of marketing. “Compared to the second half of 2014, both Bell and Telus greatly improved in their data speeds and in their reliability. Furthermore, both had about the same dropped-call rates, and there was improvement in their blocked-call rates. This helped their Reliability and Call Index scores. [In the] meantime, Rogers had significantly higher blocked- and dropped-call rates this time compared to last. This not only affected their Reliability Index score, but also their Call Performance score.”
According to the report, both Telus and Bell showed “near-perfect” reliability in the metro Vancouver area, an improvement of their already-high marks from last year. Wind finished last in all four categories.
While Telus is the biggest winner of this tally, the scores are so close largely because Telus and Bell share much of their networks, and because the Vancouver-based company began implementing much of its newly-bought spectrum in the last few months. Bell’s existing 2500Mhz spectrum, which it does not share with Telus, was being leveraged to achieve higher speeds, the advantages of which have been negated by 700Mhz.
And though speeds are critical to consumers, RootMetrics says that reliability and response times are going to be more important in the future. “Fast speeds have helped transform how we use our phones, making it easier to download things like movies and other large files,” says Hamilton. “But speed alone doesn’t do you much good. The bottom line is if you can’t get on the network and stay on the network, speed doesn’t matter. It’s like having a fast sports car that won’t start or often stalls.”
Telus also picked up a significant portion of the same 2500Mhz spectrum in the last auction that Bell and Rogers already possessed, closing the gap even further. And with AWS-3 devices on the the verge of being finalized, all three carriers are going to possess very similar spectrum footprints in the coming months and years.
RootMetrics says it will release eight such reports for specific Canadian locations in 2015, moving from west to east. Starting next year, the company will perform two tests per year for each of the eight surveyed areas.
(Image courtesy ofAndriy Baranskyy via Flickr)