Florian Wehde - Unsplushh
In Germany, Deutsche Telekom achieves its twelfth test victory in a row – and for the first time the grade “outstanding“. Vodafone and Telefónica also improved compared to the previous year – particularly in the important data category. It should be remembered that these increases were achieved despite stricter evaluation criteria, which we rise every year.
The measurements in Germany took place from 22.10. to 6.11.2022. The drive test teams visited 20 cities and 23 towns, and the walk tests visited eleven cities. Thus, about 16 million inhabitants were covered, which corresponds to about 19.3 percent of the German population. The drive tests covered approximately 12,000 km.
For the crowdsourcing, samples collected from mid-May to the end of October 2022 (week 19 to week 42) were evaluated. Around 2.1 billion individual samples were analysed from Germany, statistically representing 99.9 percent of the German population.
A detailed explanation of our methodology can be found here.
DRIVE TESTS AND WALK TESTS
km drive test
weeks (early May of mid-October 2022)
of built-up area covered
of population covered
Results at a Glance
For the twelfth time in a row, Telekom wins our mobile network test in Germany and now, for the first time, has cracked the mark of „outstanding“, which has not yet been achieved in this country. Despite increased test requirements, the Bonn-based company improved its voice and data performance once again.
Vodafone keeps its very good result – the slight increase in points compared to the previous year even means an improvement in performance given the stricter criteria. The Düsseldorf-based company has improved in particular in the important data category – in Crowd and Voice it has maintained its previous year‘s result.
The most significant increase in points among the German providers this year is achieved by O2/Telefónica – which underlines its progress in network expansion. In the voice rating, the Munich-based company is almost on a par with Vodafone, and they have improved most significantly in the important data discipline.
“I congratulate all the operators on their great results. Special congratulations go to the winners Deutsche Telekom, Swisscom and Magenta. Despite additional challenges, for example the rollouts during the Corona epidemic, rising energy prices and rapidly growing traffic on the networks, this is a clear confirmation that the mobile industry is doing an excellent job.”
Although data applications are continuously gaining in importance, mobile phone calls are still a core application of mobile communications. Therefore, they account for 27 percent of our rating.
The 5G equivalent to VoLTE („Voice over LTE“) with the designation VoNR („Voice over New Radio“) is not yet supported by any of the German mobile networks. As a result, smartphones have to switch back to 4G to make calls, even if a 5G connection is available. They then benefit from the fact that the German networks support the now proven VoLTE technology in high quality.
This is also reflected in the quite short call set-up times that all three candidates achieve not only in large cities, but also in smaller towns, on connecting roads and even on trains. Success rates and voice quality of the connections are also at a high level in bigger and smaller cities and on connecting roads. In all scenarios tested, Telekom comes out on top. In large cities and on connecting roads, however, O2/Telefónica achieves slightly better results than Vodafone – a somewhat higher success rate on connecting roads reveals Telefónica to be an interesting Telekom alternative for frequent travellers. In the small towns, however, the picture turns and Vodafone can get ahead of O2.
Telekom also leads in all scenarios when it comes to MultiRAB connectivity – the test of whether data connections remain possible in the background even during ongoing voice calls. Except for the tests in German trains, O2/Telefónica again achieves slightly higher percentages here than Vodafone. In the overall ranking for the voice discipline, however, the Düsseldorf-based company defends second place with a narrow margin of one point ahead of O2.
Improvements on trains
When it comes to phoning on trains, Telekom and Vodafone perform slightly better than last year. Telefónica/O2 remains at the previous year‘s level. Nevertheless, especially in comparison with the performance of the Swiss operators, there is still room for improvement for all three German providers.
Apps, messaging, streaming and web surfing are the focus for smartphone users. The share of the data discipline was thus increased to 48 percent of the overall score.
In addition to the network architecture, the frequency spectrum available to the mobile operators is the most important factor when it Comes to data rates and capacities. Deutsche Telekom still has the biggest piece of the pie and knows how to use it. This can be seen in all tested scenarios, for example, in the fact that the Bonn-based company is clearly ahead in terms of basic data rates (P10 value – i.e. 90 percent faster than) as well as peak values (P90 – 10 percent faster than). Number two in the available spectrum is Telefónica/O2, which can
be seen above all in the results in large cities.
However, Vodafone also gets the best out of its resources and scores16 points ahead of the competition from Munich in the data ranking. All three German network operators continue to make good progress with their 5G rollouts in 2022. Still, the ranking resulting from the entirety of all test scenarios and test points in the data discipline is once again confirmed by a detailed look at 5G (see box on the next page).
O2 and Vodafone almost on a par in cities
As in the voice discipline before, the Bonn-based company also comes out on top in the data tests in all individual scenarios. However, the gap between second-placed Vodafone and O2/Telefónica becomes razor-thin in the drive tests and walk tests conducted in the bigger cities.
Small towns and streets: Telekom - Vodafone - O2
However, the gap between the Düsseldorfers becomes more pronounced in small towns and – somewhat in contrast to the voice discipline – also on the connecting roads. Here, success rates and data rates again speak in favour of Telekom, and at a smaller margin also for Vodafone.
In the small towns, all three providers improved in comparison to the previous year; on the roads, only Telekom succeeded in doing so, while Vodafone and Telefónica/O2 essentially stagnated in this scenario. The further our test vehicles moved away from the big cities, the clearer the ranking emerged: Telekom – Vodafone – Telefónica/O2.
Mixed picture on railways
While we saw slight progress in the voice connections in long-distance trains, this unfortunately turned out to be considerably less true in the data discipline. However, we should not conceal the fact that this year, too, numerous track renovations often led the trains away from their main lines, which are better supplied with mobile radio. However, the three network operators were at least able to improve slightly compared to the previous year – so the direction is right, hopefully this train will continue to pick up speed. Because at present, the gap between data communication in German railways and the two neighbouring countries in the Alps remains strikingly clear.
5G is being included in our data evaluation at an increasing rate. Nevertheless, we want to take a look again this year at the results achieved via 5G alone from our drive and walk tests. Because it shows how the providers have progressed with their 5G rollouts.
For the exemplary analysis, we again use the results from the category “File download (7 seconds)“ achieved via
5G alone. The shares of samples with 5G or 5G-DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing – the demand-dependent distribution of bandwidth between 4G and 5G) shown for this part of our test are in the same order of magnitude also for the other data tests.
Compared to the previous year, it is clear that all three providers have once again made great progress in upgrading their networks to 5G. Not only in large cities have 5G rates increased significantly, but also in the smaller towns, on roads and even on trains. Data rates remain essentially at the previous year‘s level, but this is no surprise. After Telekom and Vodafone, which have been using DSS for a long time, especially in the rural areas, Telefónica is now also making use of this sharing technology for the first time. Overall, however, the O2 network has the largest share of pure 5G.
While the drive and walk tests focus on the maximum possible performance in the networks, the crowd analyses show what is actually received by users.
The crowdsourcing discipline also shows the same ranking that is already known from the other categories – at a distance of four or five points respectively between the three providers. In detail, however, there are some surprises: For example, although Telekom is ahead in all three aspects of broadband quality, Telefónica overtakes its competitor Vodafone in terms of broadband coverage. In terms of broadband quality, these two competitors are on a par, while in terms of time share, Vodafone is just ahead of Telefónica.
Regarding the availability of HD voice, the upload data rates determined with active measurements as well as in the stability assessment, Telefónica is just ahead of Vodafone. However, Telekom is the undisputed leader in these categories again – clearly visible even in the active download measurements. In the passively determined data rates, Telekom and Vodafone again take the lead together. The champion in the demanding gaming latencies is Vodafone by a narrow margin.
Although we separate the compulsory programme from the “freestyle“ programme in this consideration of our test results, the familiar order of operators is evident in Germany.
The chapter “reliability“ is new this year. However, it is not based on additional test points, but is more a different look at the results of the preceding chapters. The analysis is based on the fact that umlaut differentiates between “Qualifier KPIs“ (mandatory, so to speak) and “Differentiator KPIs“ (equivalent to freestyle) for all KPIs – see also the methodology description on page 79. The providers who score well in the mandatory programme deliver reliable services, irrespective of any top performance they may or may not achieve in the freestyle.
Nevertheless, Telekom is ahead in this analysis as well. Its lead is evident in all individual disciplines – more pronounced in the drive and walk tests, more narrowly in crowdsourcing. The fact that all providers achieve very good or even outstanding scores here underlines the increased reliability of the German mobile networks.
All values rounded to whole numbers. The internal calculation of points and percentages was done with three decimal points. The 493 maximum points achieved here are an extract from the total of 1000 points (see also methodology linked below).
Cedric Letsch -Unsplash