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 ­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.




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. 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 ­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 Bonn-based 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

Modern cars demand online connectivy. Which of the ­German mobile networks live up to the constantly rising requirements?

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 itWh 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.