Many users may prefer internet messaging to traditional voice calls. But in those cases when they are talking on the phone, customers expect reliable connections and good speech quality. How do the Dutch networks fulfill these expectations?
When the tests started, T-Mobile was the only Dutch operator that had not commercially launched VoLTE yet, and KPN did not yet support this feature on the Samsung S7 smartphones that were used for testing. The network-wide introduction of Voice over LTE and its support on a broad range of smartphones take time. So, the test phones were only partly able to use VoLTE, even if they were in areas where they could establish a LTE connection.
T-Mobile first with legacy technology, Vodafone shows most significant improvement
Despite not offering VoLTE yet, T-Mobile is the overall voice leader. The operator thus proves that fast call setup times and excellent speech quality can be achieved with legacy voice technology too. But Vodafone, which has a quota of 99.7 per cent of successful VoLTE calls, follows closely at only three points distance. Also, Vodafone shows the most significant improvement over last year‘s result, gaining 15 points in the voice discipline. Tele2 supports VoLTE in its 4G network, but outside its LTE footprint it realises legacy voice services via national roaming on T-Mobile. In this scenario, Tele2 does not have access to the higher quality voice codecs, which may explain its lag compared to the two leading operators. Due to the lack of VoLTE support on the Samsung S7 test phones on the part of KPN, voice connections in this network were established via circuit-switched fallback. Still, the largest Dutch operator delivers very good speech quality and high success ratios in all examined scenarios.
Voice at a Glance
The overall winner in the voice discipline is T-Mobile – although this operator is the only one in the Netherlands that has not yet introduced VoLTE. Vodafone follows closely behind, while Tele 2 loses points due to legacy national roaming. KPN offers VoLTE, but not yet on the S7 test phones. If the evaluation had considered only legacy calls, KPN definitely would have ranked better.
The volume of transmitted data is steadily growing. So, all operators face the challenge to keep data rates and reaction times at a high level. Which Dutchoperator manages to best meet the growing demand?
Good news for Dutch customers: All mobile networks operating in the Netherlands show a very high degree of stability and performance in this benchmark. Whether our test teams drove through large cities, through smaller towns or on the connecting roads – the success ratios observed in each of these scenarios werealtogether remarkably high.
In order to check the reliability and performance of data connectivity in the Dutch networks, one Samsung Galaxy S7 per operator was installed in our test cars. The phones constantly performed a suite of tests including web-page downloads, file downloads and uploads as well as Youtube video playbacks. For most of these checks, success ratios and average session times were logged. For the downloads and uploads we also recorded the average throughputs. In order to get an idea of the typical performance, we determined the minimum data rates that are available in 90 per cent of the cases. To also reflect peak date rates, we additionally recorded the speeds that were surpassed in 10 per cent of the cases.
P3‘s approach for testing Youtube playback recognizes that this popular video service has recently introduced adaptive bit rates. This decision of the streaming provider aims at a better user experience, surrendering pixel resolution in favour of stable playback. As a consequence, besides success ratios, start times and the absence of interruptions, the average value of the received video resolution became another important performance indicator.
T-Mobile also leads the field in data
Although all four operators reach very high scores in the cities, T-Mobile takes a distinctive lead over its competitors. Here, KPN reaches the second rank with a gap of only five points to T-Mobile. Tele2 comes in third in the cities. However, slightly weaker values particularly in the file upload category lead to clear distance to the results of the two candidates on the higher ranks. With a very close gap of only one point behind Tele2, Vodafone comes in last in the cities. This position originates in the loss of a couple of points especially in the web browsing and file upload categories. Again, we must emphasize that this ranking order >> is achieved at very high levels of performance and stability, and the overall differences between all four networks are small.
In towns, we see an interesting ranking where T-Mobile and KPN share the same number of points at the top rank, while Vodafone and Tele2 share the second position, again with an equal number of points. The distance to the leading duo in this scenario is six points.
Basically, the same order can be observed on the connecting roads: Again, T-Mobile and KPN are leading the field at the same level, while Tele2 and Vodafone rank second – in this scenario, however, with a very close distance of only two points.
All in all, T-Mobile leads the data category, followed closely by a strong KPN and at a little distance by Tele2 and Vodafone. However, the fact that all four operators perform similarly well in all tested scenarios emphasises the high level of service and performance that Dutch customers can expect.
Data at a Glance
T-Mobile is also the overall winner in the data category, but the gap over the other Dutch operators is small. KPN follows at close distance on a strong second rank, with Tele 2 and Vodafone falling a little behind. However, even the latter two provide very good results in the data category.