2018│12│04 – The Mobile Network Test in Germany and Austria

IN ITS 25TH YEAR, THE CONNECT MOBILE NETWORK TEST IS STILL CONSIDERED THE HIGHEST BENCHMARK, OFFERING MAXIMUM OBJECTIVITY AS WELL AS A DISTINCT CUSTOMER ORIENTATION. WE HAVE FURTHER REFINED OUR METHODOLOGY IN ORDER TO PROVIDE AN EVEN BROADER PICTURE OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE TESTED MOBILE NETWORKS.v

A quarter of a century! The renowned mobile Network test conducted by connect and P3 communications has already arrived in its 25th year. The Aachen-based company which spezialises in network testing teamed up once again with the experienced editorial staff of connect. In in a combined effort we make sure that the results are determined according to realistic and statistically reliable methods. In our close cooperation, we go to great lengths in order to investigate the performance and reliability of mobile networks. The figures below impressively prove our efforts. The reward of this effort is not only that the tested operators assign a much higher significance to our results than to those of less sophisticated network examinations. But also that connect readers can definitely rely on our findings when they chose a mobile network operator.

Further refined methodology
However, we did not rest on our laurels but continuously worked on further refining our methodology. Our aim is to present the most accurate picture of the actual quality of mobile networks. Last year, we started to amend the results of our elaborate drivetests and walktests with the additional findings of crowdsourcing analyses. Now, we have further strengthened this approach by considering not only the networks‘ stability, but also their coverage as well as the data rates actually received by their users. This is the only way to get the complete picture: The drivetests and walktests provide information about the maximum performance of a network; crowdsourcing reveals which share of this performance actually arrives at the average user. Those who limit their evaluations to just one of these two aspects, can only depict part of the complex reality. Regarding the mobile network test for Switzerland, we have to inform you that, due to the extensive testing efforts, it was not possible to conduct the testing campaign in Switzerland simultaneously to Germany and Austria this time. But we will catch up and Present the results from this traditionally strong alpine country in the 3/2019 edition of connect. HANNES RUEGHEIMER

A 360 degree view at network quality
The crowdsourcing results, which have been added to our evaluation, have a share of 15 per cent in the overall grades. As in the years before, we have then splitted the remaining points in a proportion of 40 to 60 among the disciplines voice and data.

HANNES RÜGHEIMER

GERMANY

VOICE

ALTHOUGH SMARTPHONES OFFER MANY MEANS OF COMMUNICATION, VOICE TELEPHONY IS STILL IMPORTANT. WHICH OPERATORS OFFER STABLE AND HIGH-QUALITY CONNECTIONS?

 

In Germany, Voice over LTE (or short VoLTE) is already an Established standard. Smartphones equipped for this standard transport voice calls in 4G networks via LTE data packets and do not have to switch back to 3G or 2G for telephony. This enables considerably shorter call setup times and usually also more solid connections. As all three German mobile networks not only support VoLTE but also the higher bandwidth EVS (Enhanced Voice Services) codes, our measurement values overall show a high speech quality. Telekom leads the field with mostly very good results. This operator offers the shortest call setup times in larger cities, small towns and also on the connecting roads. In the drivetest scenarios the company also achieve the highest success The parameters for data connectivity determined by the measurement cars and the walktest teams are still the most prestigious category of our network test and thus contribute the highest number of possible points to the overall score. As already in voice, Telekom scores best also in this discipline. A detailled look at the single sub-categories reveals pleasant improvements in the O2 network, particularly in the walktests conducted in larger cities. The operator puts a special focus on these areas while merging the formerly separate networks of O2 and E-Plus. Thus, in this category Telefónica almost ranks the same as Vodafone. However, in the other disciplines of our test, the ranking is distinct: Telekom leads, Vodafone follows at a clear rates and a narrow lead concerning speech quality. In the walktests which we conducted in ten German cities, Vodafone scores a little better due to slightly higher success rates. Speech quality is on a very high level in this scenario for all three candidates.

O2 shows weaknesses in smaller towns and on the roads
In smaller towns, O2 distinctly falls back behind Telekom and Vodafone.Compared to the large cities, the call setup times increase in the Telefónica network, while success ratios and measured speech quality drop. On the highways and roads examined in the test, talking on the phone works best in the Telekom network. Here, Vodafone and especially O2 show some room for improvement concerning all measured parameters.

Still unsatisfactory:
Voice calls in German railways When it comes to placing and taking phone calls while travelling on German railways, the results of all three operators are still not particularly good. What makes this especially sad: Compared to the previous year, almost nothing has changed when looking at the measured values. The slightly improved speech quality can probably be explained with the factors VoLTE and EVS as mentioned before. Vodafone scores slightly better in this discipline than the two other networks. However, looking at only 48 per cent degree of fulfilment related to the total of points achievable in this category,this is no true comfort.

DATA

WEB SURFING, MESSAGING, UPLOADING, DOWNLOADING OR STREAMING – WHO DELIVERS THE BEST MOBILE INTERNET PERFORMANCE?

 

The parameters for data connectivity determined by the measurement cars and the walktest teams are still the most prestigious category of our network test and thus contribute the highest number of possible points to the overall score. Als already in voice, Telekom scores best also in this discipline. A detailled look at the single sub-categories reveals pleasant improvements in the O2 network, particularly in the walktests conducted in larger cities. The operator puts a special focus on these areas while merging the formerly separate networks of O2 and E-Plus. Thus, in this category Telefónica almost ranks the same as Vodafone. However, in the other disciplines of our test, the ranking is distinct: Telekom leads, Vodafone follows at a clear distance and O2 brings up the rear.

Telekom ahead in almost all data disciplines

Whether we look at web browsing, file uploads and downloads or Youtube playback – the Bonnbased operator achieves the strongest results in every single sub-category. In most cases, Vodafone follows and achieves a good second position. And O2 ranks third. One of the rare exceptions are the success ratios of file uploads during the walktests in large cities. The results from the smaller towns that we have considered in our test, constantly rank behind those from the large cities. But while Telekom still scores very well and Vodafone at least well in this category, we see a considerable drop in the performance of the O2 network.

CONNECTING ROADS

­Connected navigation, streaming apps residing in the infotainment systems of modern cars as well as applications like parking space finders or fuel information – they all base on reliable connectivity on the road. Performance in the car is in the focus of our drivetests anyway. What is particularly interesting in this context are the highways and rural roads that our measurement vehicles passed while travelling between the larger cities and smaller towns con-sidered in our test route.

Distinct ranking on the roads
In this discipline, the well-known picture from the earlier categories repeats itself: Telekom takes the lead, Vodafone follows second (but falls back surprisingly in comparison to the previous year, and O2 remains on the third rank. However, it is at least good news for Telefónica customers that their operator has managed to improve a little in this category compared to last year‘s result. This may be an indication for the advanced merger of the two networks. However, for drivers who are looking out for the best success ratios possible and the highest mobile data rates, there is currently almost no way around Deutsche Telekom.

DATA ON RAILWAYS

WORKING ON YOUR NOTEBOOK, TABLET OR SMARTPHONE – OR JUST WATCHING A YOUTUBE VIDEO. HOW WELL DOES THIS ACTUALLY WORK TODAY? OUR TEST RESULTS ARE DISILLUSIONING.

Hoping for better results regarding the mobile internet connectivity on German trains after the weak results of all three operators in the voice category, leads to another disappointment. In this discipline, the level of the measurement values practically remains unchanged after a full year.

In German trains, even the strongest contender is not good
Compared to the previous year, Telekom shows a small performance improvement. With this, it can overtake the Vodafone network which led by a narrow margin in this category last year. However, a 42 per cent degree of fulfilment this is hardly a reason to celebrate. Anybody who wants to work on their notebook, tablet or smartphone while travelling on a German train and has to access web sites or transmit data, will have to put up with rather poor success ratios of 80 to 90 percent. Watching Youtube videos during the train ride can be even more frustrating – here, the success ratios are at even lower values of 67 to 76 per cent. So, the conclusion of this not too glorious discipline in our

2019 network test can only be: When it comes to using the internet on trains in Germany, a lot still need to be done.

CROWD

Strong Deutsche Telekom

Performance losses at O2

But our test results also expose the problems currently met by Telefónica and its customers. Since O2 acquired its former competitor E-Plus in October, 2014, the technicians have been working hard in order to consolidate the formerly separate cells of both networks. The measurement values at hand clearly indicate that this task is everything but trivial. The O2 network already ranked distinctly behind Telekom and Vodafone in our previous mobile network test (2016/2017). But this year, the gap did actually increase.

O2 manages to keep up its last year‘s level in the drivetests conducted in larger cities. However, the operator massively loses points in the inner city walktests. This suggests that fine tuning the merged networks is especially demanding at locations with high numbers of users simultaneously accessing the mobile network. Considerably lower success ratios and data rates than those delivered by Telekom and Vodafone result in a significant loss of points for Telefónica. Customers who join O2 due to its undoubtedly attractive tariffs must, at his point in time, be somewhat patient especially when they are using the mobile internet.

Vodafone makes up leeway over Telekom in smaller towns

In the drivetest conducted in smaller towns, O2 also ranks substantially lower than in the previous year. At least, the level of results rises a little in this scenario in comparison to the inner city walktests. As was to be expected, the leading duo also shows somewhat weaker results in the smaller towns than in the metropolises. Interestingly, in this category, Vodafone catches up closely to Telekom. Especially the success ratios of the Dusseldorf-based contender are a tiny step ahead of its Bonn-based competitor. Telekom counters this with slightly better data rates as well as an excellent Youtube performance.

All in all, Telekom and Vodafone customers in cities and towns can be very pleased with their operators. For O2, this currently applies only with some restrictions.

SINGLE REVIEW

telekom_logo

For the eighth time in a row, the Bonn-based operator wins connect‘s mobile network test in Germany. Compared to the previous year, Telekom was able to slightly improve its performance – this is also true when segragating the newly added crowd points. The very good overall result would arithmetically equal a school grade of 1.3 (of 6 levels, with 1.0 being the best grade).

connect_bestintest

vodafone

When directly comparing the degrees of fulfilment in the separat test categories with those of the Previous year, the Dusseldorf operator falls back slightly. But as we have further enhanced our test methods year over year, the overall performance probably remained constant. The achieved second rank and the overall grade “good“ would arithmetically equal a school grade of 1.8.

o2

In comparison to the previous year, O2 managed to improve considerably – both in the voice and data disciplines. The advancements in larger cities stand out particularly. The results in smaller towns, on the connecting roads and on railways (where all German operators perform poorly) remain weak points. O2 improves its results, now reaching the grade “satisfactory“, which equals a school grade of 3.1.