2019│02│05 – The Mobile Network Test in Switzerland

THIS YEAR, WE HAD TO SLIGHTLY POSTPONE OUR RENOWNED AND SOPHISTICATED NETWORK TEST FOR SWITZERLAND: BUT NOW; FOLLOWING THE PUBLICATION OF THOSE FOR GERMANY AND AUSTRIA IN DECEMBER 2018 THE SWISS RESULTS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE:

Due to logistical reasons, we had to schedule our Great Mobile Network Test in Switzerland a little later than its equivalents for Germany and Austria (see connect 1/2019). From November 28 to December 20, two of umlaut‘s drivetest vehicles equipped with sophisticated measurement gear visited 18 larger cities and 31 smaller towns in Switzerland, together covering a total of 6,500 kilometres. Of these, 3160 km accounted for the connecting roads between the cities and towns. Those measurements by car were complemented by walktests, conducted in eight Swiss cities, as well as by test journeys performed on Swiss trains.

Results enthusiastically awaited
Not just the Swiss operators and their customers, but also participants and users from other countries, eagerly expected the results. The reason for this anticipation is that the results of our network test in Switzerland traditionally range on a very advanced level – ahead of those from Germany and Austria. Once again, the Swiss operators gave each other a neck-and-neck
race. The 2018 network test in Switzerland resulted in a tie of
Sunrise and Swisscom. This time we have a clear winner, though
with a very narrow margin.

HANNES RÜGHEIMER

VOICE

THIS DISCIPLINE ALREADY DEMONSTRATES THE HIGH PERFORMANCE LEVEL OF THE SWISS MOBILE NETWORKS.

 

While Swisscom and Sunrise have already rolled out Voice over LTE (VoLTE) in their networks and additionally support the modern EVS codec („Enhanced Voice Services“), Salt‘s network does not yet offer this improved voice mode. Looking at the results of the drivetests conducted in 18 larger Swiss cities, Sunrise scores ahead of Swisscom in the voice discipline. Among other factors, this might be explained with the fact that almost a 100 per cent of the test calls set up in the Sunrise network could be established via LTE – thus allowing for fast call setup times. But even though Salt customers still have to use the older circuit-switched fallback (reverting to 3G) in order to conduct phone calls, they also get high voice quality and reliability.

In the walktests conducted within the larger cities, Swisscom leads by a narrow margin. In the smaller towns, Sunrise is ahead. Salt manages to keep up in the examined larger cities, but when it comes to the 31 smaller towns, this smallest Swiss operator falls a little behind.

Similar results can also be observed on the connecting roads, where Swisscom and Sunrise impress with a success ratio of 100 per cent. In such a strong environment, even Salt‘s high success ratio of about 97 per cent looks almost like a weak result. But as this operator also shows longer call setup times and a lower voice quality MOS, Salt overall falls a little behind on the connecting roads. Still, the partial scores of our telephony tests all in all range on a pleasantly high level.

This is also true for the measurements performed on the Swiss railways. Here, the operators from Switzerland traditionally demonstrate to their peers in Germany and also Austria what a leading performance means. This year makes no exception to this rule – particularly the success ratios and setup times of calls initiated while travelling on the trains score in a range that providers and customers from the neighbouring countries can only dream about.

DATA

WHEN IT COMES TO DATA COMMUNICATIONS, THE SWISS OPERATORS ONCE AGAIN COMPETE AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL.

 

In the important discipline of data communications, all considered scenarios reveal quite a similar picture: The two top contenders
Sunrise and Swisscom give each other a neck-and-neck race for the highest rank, while the smallest contender Salt follows at close distance with still very good results. In the big cities, Swisscom takes a narrow lead – both in the drivetests and in the walktests. However, all three providers achieve very high reliability rates, ranging well above 99 per cent for most of the examined use cases. In the small number of instances where this threshold is not met, the margin is only in a magnitude of some tenths of a percentage point.

High share of 4CA at Swisscom Market leader Swisscom achieves its narrow lead over the also very strong Sunrise mostly due to slightly higher data rates. A more detailled view at the gathered measuement results reveals Swisscom achieving a high share of connections with “4 carrier aggregation“ – downlinks on four combined carrier frequencies, which allows a theoretical maximum data rate of 900 Mbps on suitable enduser devices in accordingly equipped LTE network cells. However, the average data rates achieved in the measurements are considerably lower (see adjacent table). Sunrise also offers carrier aggregation technology in a number of Swiss cities. Outside of these urban regions, the operator supplies its customers at least with up to 300 mpbs. Therefore, it is no surprise that the data rates measured in Sunrise‘s network are in a similar range than those of Swisscom. In mid 2018, Salt reported to have upgraded more than a hundred mobile network basestations to “4G+“ with up to 500 Mbps. This is indeed reflected in the data rates that we have gathered during our drivetests and walktests. The results of our measurement cars visiting smaller Swiss towns also reveal similar tendencies – and once more pleasantly good results with the same ranking that we already determined in the bigger cities.

All three Swiss mobile networks offer top reliability In this context, especially the high success ratios in smaller towns as well as on the connecting roads must be highlighted. Even though the data rates and reaction times fall a little behind in comparison to the urban areas, Swiss mobile customers can count on getting reliable and high-performance data connections in most rural areas and also while driving in their cars. It is particularly pleasant to observe that this is not only true for the market leader Swisscom but also for the two smaller contenders Sunrise and Salt. Swiss customers who are are looking for the highest possible performance are in good hands at Swisscom and Sunrise. If bargain tariffs are the top priority, Salt is a good choice – where customers still receive a convincingly strong network performance.

DATA ON RAILWAYS

Connectivity on Swiss trains well ahead in Europe

As already observed during the voice tests, it is quite obvious that
the described results are also valid (with only very small deviations) while travelling on Swiss railways.

The walktest team covered some of the distances between the visited cities by train. In these situations, it also determined success rates of mostly over 99 per cent, comparably high data rates and fast reaction times. While railway customers in almost all neighbouring countries have to live with considerable limitations in this respect, working online while travelling on Swiss trains is convenient and stress-free. The 2019 network test once again confirms that Switzerland is well ahead in Europe in this category.

CROWD

IN ORDER TO CONSIDER IN TH USER EXPERIENCE OVER LONGER PERIODS AND ALSO LOCATIONS OFF OUR TEST ROUTES AND PLACES, THE RESULTS OF CROWDSOURCING ANALYSES ARE INCLUDED WITH 15 PER CENT IN THE OVERALL EVALUATION.

 

We have filtered a small number of outliers with conspiciously good results from our crowd evaluation as we could not absolutely exclude
the suspicion of fraud. Further details about this can be found in
the online version of this test on www.connect-testlab.com. High values for the crowdsourced network coverage for voice and 4G once more emphasise the good network performance in Switzerland. Also the “quality of coverage“ (how often the customers could have actually used a respective network technology) is pleasantly high.

Swisscom shows somewhat higher top values for the effectively achieved data speeds. Here, Sunrise and Salt are on a par, but behind Swisscom. For „Data Service Availability“, we have extended the observation period to last from May until November 2018. Here, Sunrise shows a convinding zero observed degradations. In the Swisscom network, we identified only one event with a length of up to one hour in August 2018. In the Salt network, we recognised degradations on eight days over a total of 22 hours in the Salt network.

SINGLE REVIEW

The overall 2019 winner in Switzerland is Swisscom – with a razor-thin lead of just one point. The market leader outperforms its strong rival Sunrise thanks to the data and crowdsourcing disciplines. However, its voice results fell marginally behind in comparison to the previous year. But all in all, Swisscom deservedly claims the total victory of this test and receives the grade “outstanding“.

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As in the year before, Sunrise scores ahead of its rival Swisscom in the voice discipline. The results of the data measurements and the crowdsourcing analyses are also top-class. We especially did not observe any degradations at all in Sunrise‘s network between May and November 2018. Scoring only one point behind the test‘s winner, Sunrise achieves the second rank and also the grade “outstanding“.

Salt scores third, but shows the most distinct improvement over previous year‘s results. Both in the voice and in the data disciplines, the successor to Orange achieves better results than in our measurements conducted one year ago. Even if the crowdsourcing reveals a comparatively high number of degradations, Salt thus rises from last year‘s grade “good“ to an impressive “very good“.