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VOICE

Even with the increasing importance of data, voice customers still expect reliable connections. How do the Spanish mobile networks fulfil these expectations?

On their tour through Spain, P3‘s four test cars visited 17 of the largest Spanish cities and many smaller towns and also covered the connecting roads. For the voice rating, each car carried eight Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphones that permanently called each other. The connected testing equipment registered success ratios, setup times and speech quality. In order to simulate normal smartphone usage, data transfers took place in the background of the test calls.

Vodafone ranks best in voice and overall, Orange is second in the voice discipline

At the time of testing, Orange was the only operator that offered VoLTE (Voice over LTE) to its customers. This resulted in fastest call setup times in all categories. However, Vodafone delivered the best speech quality and also showed excellent success ratios especially in big cities and smaller towns.

In terms of call success ratios, Movistar follows closely behind Vodafone and takes the lead on connecting roads. When analysing speech quality, Movistar is on par with Orange in big ­cities and slightly ahead of Orange in towns and on the roads. In the overall voice ranking, however, Orange comes in second after Vodafone due to the significantly faster call setup times, relegating Movistar to the third rank.

Yoigo‘s results are particularly interesting, bearing in mind, that the smallest contender ­recently switched from Movistar to Orange for national roaming. Yoigo still scores clearly behind its competitors. In comparison to the previous year, Yoigos voice results declined ­somewhat in the bigger cities and considerably in smaller towns, while they noticeably improved on the connecting roads.

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VOICE RESULTS AT A GLANCE

Vodafone delivers the best results in all tested voice categories. Orange achieves a second rank, probably due to its unique VoLTE offering. Movistar had the best success ratios on connecting roads. Yoigo ranks last with mixed results compared to the previous year.


Data

The volume of transmitted data is steadily growing. So, all operators face the challenge how to maintain data rates and reaction times at a high level. Which of the Spanish operators manages to best meet the growing demand?

The volume of mobile data downloads and uploads is exponentially growing. 4G/LTE currently is the best technology to cope with these increasing demands, while all Spanish 4G networks have increased their coverage in terms of the population. While Movistar, Orange and Vodafone also compete about who delivers the highest data rates, Yoigo is still mainly concen­trating on expanding its LTE footprint. According to its own claims (also see page 3), the smallest Spanish contender has now reached 89 per cent 4G coverage of the Spanish population.

P3‘s testing rewards coverage and stability as well as fast data rates. The benchmarking of web-page downloads as well as file downloads and uploads is testing the maximum throughputs available to customers. At the same time, it assesses the networks‘ availability and stability by examining success ratios.

In order to assess typical performance as well as peak speeds, we determined two values: the minimum data rate that is available in 90 per cent of the cases, and additionally the peak data rate that is surpassed in 10 per cent of the cases.

P3‘s approach for YouTube testing recognises that the popular video service uses adaptive bit rates. This method strives for a better user experience, subordinating pixel resolution to stable playback. As a consequence, besides success ratios, start times and the absence of interruptions, we have added the average video resolution as another important per­formance indicator.

Vodafone leads in data in the cities, but faces strong competitors – including Yoigo

The results show that all operators offer a mature level of LTE coverage in the big cities. Here, all four Spanish networks show excellent success ratios. All four candidates reach their best performance values in this environment, but in contrast to the previous year, the gap between big cities and smaller towns has narrowed. 

In the web-page category examined in the cities, Orange comes in closely behind Vodafone and with a narrow lead over Movistar. However, on the whole Movistar achieves the second rank in the “data in cities“ category – mainly due to higher data rates achieved in the file downloads and uploads. 

Yoigo ranks behind the other three contenders also in this category – but presents its strongest data results in the cities. With high success ratios and data rates not far behind the middle field, Yoigo is a serious alternative for data communications in the cities.

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All operators have improved in smaller towns

In the smaller towns, the four Spanish operators show similar results and a similar ranking order as in the bigger cities. The best news, however, is that the reliability and performance of each Spanish mobile network has clearly improved over last year‘s results. Another nice observation are the excellent YouTube results of all Spanish networks that we determined in the towns as well as in cities and even on the roads. Watching video streams on the go in Spain in 2017 is a far more pleasant experience than it used to be one year ago.

Yoigo shows biggest improvement in data

What was true for the smaller towns, also applies to the connecting roads: The ranking order in the data disciplines remains the same in all tested categories. And, in comparison to 2016‘s results, all operators clearly managed to improve their scores. This is especially applicable for Yoigo, which only achieved 41 per cent of the possible points in this category in the previous year, and improved its score to a respectable 74 per cent this time. This is a truly remarkable result for Spain’s smallest contender.

Overall, Movistar ranks second in data discipline

In the overall examination, Movistar ranks second in the data discipline after a strong Vodafone – but also Orange is following at a not too far distance.

 
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DATA RESULTS AT A GLANCE

Vodafone also clearly wins the data categories, resulting in the overall win of this benchmark. Movistar ranks second in all tested data scenarios, with Orange closely following. Yoigo still ranks last, but improved its results considerably over the previous year’s P3 connect Mobile Benchmark in Spain. Especially pleasant is the distinct advancement of the results in smaller towns and on the connecting roads – the Spanish operators have obviously taken great efforts to narrow the former gap over the big cities.