Benchmarking the GCC 5G Experience

Thursday 1 Dec 2022 | Case Study | Member Resources |

In this analysis Opensignal continues to track the progress of 5G networks using experience data collected from our users across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region that comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This is the second GCC 5G Experience Benchmark, where Opensignal quantifies users’ 5G experience for mobile video streaming, multiplayer mobile gaming, voice app communication, availability, speed, as well as the uplift in experience compared with older 4G services. Across the Gulf ongoing 5G development is boosting the mobile experience, but with significant differences between the individual markets.

Markets in the region measured notable improvements in user experience over the last GCC 5G Benchmark, which looked at the period over 1 April – 29 June 2022. Bahrain registered an improvement in measured 5G Download Speed of 26.8% (going from 187.0 to 237 Mbps), and 5G Upload Speed improvement of 25.4% (from 15.3 to 19.1 Mbps) – the highest proportional increase across the region. 5G Video Experience and 5G Games Experience had the most significant improvement in Oman, with uplifts of 8.3% and 18.9% respectively. Oman and Kuwait registered the biggest increase in 5G Availability, with the measure going up by 1.8 and 2.9 percentage points over the earlier respective period.

The UAE tops 5G Download Speed in the GCC region, where our users measured 333.3 Mbps on average, followed by Qatar and Kuwait down on the table. Both UAE and Qatar are in a statistical tie for the top spot for 5G Peak Download Speed, with statistically tied scores of 792.9-866.3 Mbps and for 5G Upload Speed with scores of 26.7-28.5 Mbps. Across the Gulf, the speed metrics of the top placed countries were significantly higher than the bottom ones – with UAE leading Oman by 62.5% in 5G Download Speed. 5G Peak Download Speed was at least two and a half times as fast as the average 5G Download Speed in all six GCC markets.

Analyzing the user experience while they were connected to an operator’s 5G network, all countries in the Gulf measured a 5G Video Experience score that was either Very Good (65-75) or Excellent (75 or above). Kuwait is top for 5G Video Experience and is the only market with an Excellent experience score of 77.3 points.

The story is different for 5G Games Experience, which is influenced by different types of mobile network conditions including latency, packet loss and jitter – for which UAE and Bahrain were the top performers with 74.4-75.7 points.

There was a significant difference in the real-world experience across markets. On the 100 point scale, top ranking Kuwait was 12.2 points ahead of bottom placed Qatar in 5G Video Experience. Similarly, UAE and Bahrain users experienced a 13.7-14.9 points higher 5G Games Experience than bottom placed Qatar.

There was only a modest difference in the 5G Voice App Experience between markets, equivalent to 2.5 points on the 100 point scale. All countries in the Gulf had a Good (75-85) experience score. This measure quantifies the experience of over-the-top voice services using popular mobile voice apps, examples of which include WhatsApp and Facetime. Kuwait, Oman and UAE top the table here with statistically tied scores of 80.7-81.5 points on a 100 point scale.

Users experienced a staggering uplift in the speeds on 5G networks when compared with older 4G technology. Across the six markets in the GCC, average download speeds were between 5.6 and 10 times faster on the new 5G network compared with older 4G. Similarly, there was a large jump in 5G Video Experience with 5G connectivity boosting the mobile video streaming experience by between 22.6% and 46.2%. These stark differences highlight the importance of helping users to connect to 5G as often as possible so they can enjoy this better experience.

When we compare the proportion of time our 5G enabled users spent with an active 5G connection across the markets — the measure of 5G Availability — Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia did remarkably well. While Saudi Arabia ranks third, it is by far the largest market in both geographic area and by population – and its score of 22.5% represents a reasonably high 5G network availability among its users. Still it is behind Kuwait (at 36.5%) and Bahrain (at 32.9%), which statistically tied for the top spot. Much smaller markets than Saudi Arabia scored lower, with Qatar, UAE and Oman all in a statistical tie, 6.1-6.8 percentage points behind Saudi Arabia.

5G is continuing to advance across the GCC. With newer versions of 5G technology on the way, and the extent of 5G services growing, Opensignal will continue to gauge the real-world 5G experience across the GCC and how fast GCC users’ experience improves.

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