The 2022 Mobile Network Test in the Netherlands
For the seventh time, we – the benchmarking expert umlaut and connect magazine – have conducted our tough benchmark of the mobile networks in the Netherlands. Once again, we have refined our methodology in the process.
All Dutch operators have worked hard to expand their 5G coverage and to strengthen their 4G offerings. So we wanted to find out, which of the contenders offers the best performance and the highest reliability of mobile voice and data services.
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Results in a nutshell
KPN wins the umlaut connect Mobile Benchmark in the Netherlands for the first time and reaches the highest score achieved in our 2021/2022 benchmarking season. T-Mobile, who had won five times in a row before, ranks second this year at a narrow gap in a neck and neck race. As in the previous benchmark, Vodafone comes in third with the grade “very good“.
The network benchmarks conducted by umlaut, part of Accenture, and connect are widely accepted as the de-facto industry standard and for being highly objective. The carefully designed methodology of our benchmark in the Netherlands represents a holistic approach to network benchmarking. It combines drive tests and walk tests for executing detailed voice and data measurements under controlled circumstances combined with a sophisticated crowdsourcing methodology. This provides profound insights into the overall coverage of voice, data and 5G services as well as real-world User Download Speeds and Latencies. The drive tests and walk tests allow for the maximum capabilities of the networks to be evaluated. Crowdsourcing unveils the service quality and performance actually experienced by real users. We have thoroughly weighed these components in order to give a realistic and conclusive assessment of the rated networks‘ true potential and performance.
KPN is the overall winner, with T-Mobile following closely and both achieving the grade “outstanding“. Vodafone ranks third with the overall grade “Very good“.
In a neck and neck race on a very high technological level, this year KPN manages to outscore the also extremely strong T-Mobile, which had won the previous umlaut connect Mobile Benchmarks in the Netherlands five times in a row. Both operators deservedly achieve the rare grade “outstanding“. KPN scored highest in the data category and also leads in the voice category, together with T-Mobile. In an isolated consideration of its 5G performance, KPN leads in terms of 5G coverage in the bigger Dutch cities. T-Mobile is co-best together with KPN in the voice category and co-best together with Vodafone in the crowdsourcing category. This operator also provides the highest share of 5G coverage in towns and on roads. Vodafone comes in third with the overall grade “very good“. It scores relatively close to its competitors in the voice category and is ahead together with T-Mobile in the crowd category. The third place is obtained mainly due to a slight drop in performance in the data category. In terms of 5G, Vodafone offers a good coverage and good performance KPIs, but somewhat falls behind its two competitors in both aspects.
The Dutch Operators
Traditionally, the mobile operators in the Netherlands compete on the highest performance level. The history of relatively frequent mergers and acquisitions on the Dutch mobile market was seamlessly continued in 2021 – however the ranking of market shares remained unchanged in comparison to our previous test, which was published in late 2020.
In 2000, Deutsche Telekom bought a minority of the Dutch mobile network operator Ben, which was later extended to a 100 per cent acquisition. In 2003, Ben was renamed T-Mobile Netherlands, with the brand “Ben“ becoming a “no-frills“ offer within its portfolio. In 2007, T-Mobile NL additionally acquired Orange. At the end of 2018, the company completed its acquisition of the smallest Dutch mobile operator, Tele2. In 2020, T-Mobile NL also acquired the former virtual network operator Simpel.In the fall of 2021, T-Mobile Netherlands was acquired by the private equity investors Apax and Warburg Pincus. At this time, the company reported a total of 6.9 million mobile customers, which corresponds to a market share of approx. 42 per cent, making T-Mobile the largest Dutch mobile operator. T-Mobile‘s network offers 2G mostly at 900 MHz, 3G at 900 MHz and 4G/LTE at 800, 900, 1800, 2100 and 2600 MHz. Its 4G network supports both VoLTE as well as “4G+“ (carrier aggregation) up to 1 Gbps. T-Mobile launched 5G soon after the end of the spectrum auction in July 2020. It meanwhile claims that around 98 per cent of the Dutch population lives within its 5G coverage area.
The Koninklijke PTT Nederland N.V. emerged from the privatisation of the formerly state-owned PTT in 1998. The company focuses on marketing its flagship KPN brand, however with Simyo, it also has offerings in the “no-frills“ segment. For 2021, the company reported a total number of 6.5 million revenue-generating SIM cards (consumer and business). This makes KPN the second largest mobile operator in the Netherlands. KPN operates 2G/GSM at 900 MHz, 3G/UMTS at 900 and 2100 MHz and 4G/LTE at 800, 1400, 1800, 2100 and 2600 MHz. The company announced to complete the phase-out of 3G by April 2022 and to refarm its spectrum to 4G and 5G. KPN launched 5G at the end of July 2020, reaching about half of the Dutch population at the start. Over the past two years, the company has renewed a large part of this antenna network. It announced that the modernization will be largely completed by the end of this year. In early 2022, it claimed to offer the largest 5G antenna footprint of all Dutch operators and a population coverage for 5G of 81 per cent. The operator expects 95 per cent of the Netherlands to be covered by its 5G network by the end of 2022.
The Dutch subsidiary of the international Vodafone Group acquired the operator Libertel in 2003, forming Vodafone Netherlands. In 2016, it merged with the cable and fibre operator Ziggo. Today, 50 per cent of the joint company VodafoneZiggo is owned by the Vodafone Group and another 50 per cent by Liberty Global. Currently, VodafoneZiggo is the smallest mobile operator in the Netherlands, reporting approx. 5 million mobile customers (5.4 million mobile SIMs, of which the company designates 2.4 million “converged“ SIMs). VodafoneZiggo also specifies 3.7 million fixed (broadband, video and telephony) subscribers. The company operates 2G networks at 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G at 2100 MHz and 4G/LTE at 800, 1800, 2100 and 2600 MHz. It was the first Dutch operator to phase out 3G in order to devote its spectrum to 4G and 5G. VoLTE is supported all over its 4G network, and with “4G+“ the operator offers carrier aggregation up to 1 Gbps. At the end of April 2020, VodafoneZiggo was the first carrier to offer 5G in the Netherlands, starting on already available frequencies and later extending the service to spectrum acquired in the frequency auction which had ended in July 2020. Meanwhile, VodafoneZiggo claims to have reached national coverage with 5G.
A Close Look at the Dutch Networks
The network benchmarks conducted by umlaut and connect are widely accepted as a completely objective authority. In 2022, we present the umlaut connect Mobile Benchmark in the Netherlands for the seventh time, further enhancing its methodology.
Congratulations to KPN for winning the umlaut connect Mobile Benchmark in the Netherlands for the first time! We would also like to recognize T-Mobile’s co-best in voice and crowd performance, and Vodafone’s co-best result in the crowdsourcing category.“
Hakan Ekmen, CEO umlaut
umlaut, headquartered in Aachen, Germany, is a world leader in mobile network testing. The company was formerly known as P3, changed its name in autumn 2019, and has become a part of Accenture in 2021. umlaut has over 4,300 employees, distributed in over 50 locations all around the world, with a turnover of more than 400 million Euros. umlaut is partnering with the international telecommunications magazine connect, which has 29 years of editorial expertise and is one of the leading test authorities in Europe for telecommunication products and services. Together, we – umlaut and connect – have been conducting the most important network benchmark test in Germany for almost 20 years, extending it to other European countries since 2009. As the de-facto industry standard, our benchmarking methodology focuses on customer-perceived network quality.
The 2022 umlaut connect Mobile Benchmark in the Netherlands consists of drive tests and walk tests conducted from February 1st to 11th, 2022. Two drive test cars together covered about 6000 kilometres, visiting 21 cities and 13 towns. Additionally, two walk test teams visited eight cities and travelled on trains between them. The test areas account for 5.83 million people, or approx. 34 per cent of the total Dutch population. In addition, the results of extensive crowdsourcing analyses, considering 24 weeks from end of August 2021 to early February 2022 are included in the score.
Drive Test and Walk Test Facts
million people covered
km drive test
users providing relevant samples
weeks (end of August 2021 to early February 2022)
of built-up area (99.8% of population) covered
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