Global Wireless Solutions’ test of the top four mobile carriers in host city Rio de Janeiro reveals the best networks and spots for mobile connectivity

JULY 27, 2016 – DULLES, VA –

Today, leading independent network benchmarking firm Global Wireless Solutions Inc. (GWS) has revealed the top mobile connectivity providers in Rio in preparation for the city’s upcoming sporting events. With the games set to be the most connected to date, the city’s 500,000 expected visitors will be able to share their experiences with friends and family in real-time—provided they choose the right mobile operator and stick to the best connected areas in the city. Unfortunately for them, the site of one of the city’s top tourist attractions, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, offers inconsistent connectivity across all major mobile providers. Even the best network (TIM) only gives users an 89 percent chance of successfully uploading images and video.

Who takes home the gold medal

Rio’s largest mobile network providers (Claro, Oi, TIM and Vivo) were put to the test by GWS engineers who carried out high-level performance benchmarking while visiting Rio’s top tourist attractions and sports venues.

To rank Rio’s top mobile providers, GWS applied its recently launched OneScore™, a single metric that allows people to accurately compare the overall performance of mobile networks, based on both in-depth data testing and an understanding of how consumers are actually using their mobile devices. Overall, TIM has the highest OneScore™ ranking for visitors to Rio this summer, having the top data reliability and speed at visitor hotspots Maracanã, Christ the Redeemer, and Barra.

GWS’ in-depth network tests benchmarked mobile internet performance across operators looking at typical usage scenarios including music and video streaming, social media browsing and posting and video calling; the following are key findings:

  • TIM scored top for speed at Barra, achieving the highest OneScore™ ranking for mobile internet upload and download speeds; showing that TIM is the best bet for a high speed experience at this top sporting location
  • The best connected locations in Rio are Copacabana beach and the Sambadrome, with all four networks scoring high for both speed and availability so
    posting a beach selfie and calling your friends back home on FaceTime will be a tropical breeze
  • On average, at the majority of locations hosting sporting events carriers nearly achieve 100 percent LTE across all sites. For tourist-specific locations, carriers TIM and Claro maintain the highest percentages of LTE services, offering the best 4G experience

The worst connection speeds were seen on the train up to the Christ the Redeemer statue and at the site itself. Those planning on live streaming their ascent should be warned that they will encounter challenges.

Mobile Operator Ranking: Overall Data Performance
(Task Success Rate & Speed)

CARRIER Maracanã Lapa Christ the Redeemer Copacabana beach Barra
TIM Tied for 1st Tied for 1st Tied for 1st Tied for 1st 1st Place
Claro Tied for 1st Tied for 1st Tied for 1st Tied for 1st 2nd Place
Oi 2nd Place 3rd Place 2nd Place 3rd Place 4th Place
Vivo Tied for 1st 2nd Place 3rd Place 2nd Place 3rd Place

Overall Winner:

While mobile data coverage is widespread, reliability is an issue

Network coverage and reliability are crucial for visitors who want to stay abreast of the panoply of event results and stay connected with loved ones. According to a recent GWS survey of 5,000 U.S. adults, connecting voice calls was rated as the most important area of network performance, with Americans also listing the reliability of text message delivery, voice quality and fast data speeds for web browsing and downloads as important services.

According to the GSMA, Brazil has a mobile broadband coverage level of more than 90 percent of the population. Yet, GWS’ test has shown that network reliability still seems to be an issue across mobile operators. While visitors are likely to be able to easily upload videos and selfies of themselves enjoying the wonders of Copacabana Beach or the Sambadrome regardless of the network they use (100% task success rate across all carriers), the same cannot be said by those venturing up to the Christ the Redeemer statue. TIM users will have a top success rate of 89 percent, and those on the Vivo network will only have a 38 percent chance of being successful sharing their visit to the Christ statue live.

Dr. Paul Carter, CEO of Global Wireless Solutions, commented:

“This summer, Rio’s mobile networks will be under the spotlight, with an unprecedented surge in the number of users and devices they will have to support. Therefore, it is critical that mobile operators take the necessary steps to support the increase in demand from fans, sightseers, and those who are lucky enough to be in Rio.

“While operators may be taking extra precautions like installing additional cell sites to help increase network capacity, just building out the network to support the influx in users doesn’t guarantee a great experience. In the end, what’s the point of being at an event and seeing a signal on your phone if you can’t share what’s going on? These are meant to be the fastest games ever – not just for the athletes, but also for mobile data speeds, and users will expect to be able to upload photos and videos in real-time. Our testing showed that when it came to the tasks consumers really look for – downloading event information and results to uploading a selfie, TIM came to win.”

Are the networks ready for the games? A US comparison

At a major sporting event in the US, GWS tested across tier 1 carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile) to determine network performance at a venue hosting more than 70,000 fans. The carriers were able to deliver average download throughputs of 7-10 Mbps on a fully loaded network, offering a comfortable mobile experience.

However, it is not just large-scale sporting events that test the limits of networks, as high foot traffic tourist destinations also pose challenges for operators. At Disney World, GWS collected performance data across tier 1 carriers on a fully loaded network. Disney World, on average, sees daily foot traffic from 53,000 visitors, each accessing carrier networks to complete daily mobile tasks. Supporting this visitor count, Disney was able to achieve average download throughputs of 4-24 Mbps across all carriers, offering a comfortable mobile experience overall, with some areas throughout the park excelling more so than others.

In comparison, during GWS’s testing in Rio, average download throughputs were 4-9 Mbps across carriers TIM, Claro, Vivo and Oi. Unlike the above testing scenarios, the networks were not under heavy load and in constant use for voice calls, sending text messages and servicing social media activity. Once the expected 500,000 tourists actively use their smartphones in Rio during the games, the average throughputs of 4-9 Mbps will likely decrease unless the carriers took additional steps beyond GWS testing dates (June 6 – June 13) to accommodate the influx of activity. If not, the tourists could be in for a rude awakening when attempting to share their moments in Rio with those back at home.

Methodology and notes to editors

GWS conducted this series of tests in order to evaluate mobile network performance at Rio across popular tourist locations ahead of the Rio games. Just
over 23,800 task tests were conducted in order to evaluate network performance of Tier 1 Brazilian carriers (TIM, Clara, Oi and Vivo) throughout Maracana, Lapa, Christ the Redeemer, Copacabana, Barra, Sugarloaf Mountain Cable Car, Botanical Gardens, Cinelandia, Flamengo Park, Lagoa de Freitas, Sambadrome, Sao Cristovao Fair and Urca on June 6 – 13, 2016. The tests were conducted using the GWS Mobile Diagnostic App running on Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphones.

About Global Wireless Solutions, Inc.

Global Wireless Solutions, Inc. defines the industry standard for network benchmarking, analysis and testing. Its proprietary OneScore™ network ranking combines high-level network testing data with real world network usage scenarios to make the results of testing relatable and easy to understand. Working with some of the world’s largest wireless network providers, GWS offers standardized, high-quality network data and engineering analysis through a suite of benchmarking products, services, and diagnostic apps that includes drive, venue, and in-building testing.

Firmly rooted in a deep understanding of network engineering, GWS provides best-in-class, turnkey solutions to help customers better understand overall network performance as today’s wireless networks grow and evolve. Founded in 1996, GWS is headquartered in Dulles, VA. At last count, GWS has driven nearly 10 million data collection miles for its customers. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter at @gwsolutionsinc.

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Global Wireless Solutions, Inc.