EVEN WITH THE INCREASING IMPORTANCE OF DATA, VOICE CUSTOMERS STILL EXPECT RELIABLE CONNECTIONS WHEN ACTUALLY PLACING OR TAKING PHONE CALLS. HOW DO THE SWEDISH MOBILE NETWORKS MANAGE TO FULFIL THESE EXPECTATIONS?
All four operators in Sweden support Voice over LTE (VoLTE) – to a different degree escpecially in less densely populated parts of the country. Particularly, Tre showed a lack of VoLTE support in the northern part of Sweden. VoLTE transmits voice calls as data packets over a 4G connection. This way, the otherwise necessary “circuit-switched fallback“, which forces smartphones to switch back to 3G or 2G in order to conduct a phone call, can be avoided. Also, VoLTE supports better audio codecs providing operators with the opportunity to deliver higher speech quality to their customers.
For the voice rating, each drivetest car and each walktest team carried one Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone per operator. The smartphones in the cars called a counterpart in one of the other cars. The phones carried by the walktest teams called a stationary counterpart. The connected testing equipment registered success ratios, call setup times and speech quality. In order to simulate normal smartphone usage, data transfers took place in the background of the test calls.
TELIA STONG IN VOICE IN BIG CITIES
In the voice drivetests conducted in 20 Swedish cities, Telia achieves the highest score, with Tele 2 following closely. Both offer call setup ratios close to 100 per cent. Above that, Telia stands out with a higher speech quality than the other contenders by using predominantly the high-quality EVS (Enhanced Voice Services) codec. Tre ranks third with proper results in all KPIs. Telenor shows comparably long call setup times and a high share of call setup failures.
TELIA TAKES A NARROW LEAD IN VOICE WALKTESTS IN BIG CITIES
In the walktests which took place in eight Swedish cities, the four operators rank closer together. Telia still takes the lead, but the other candidates are following at close distance. In this scenario, Telia and Tele 2 achieve an impressive success ratio of 100 per cent. Telenor shows no particular call setup limitations. Again, Telia provides the highest speech quality due to a wide use ot the EVS codec.
TELIA LEADS VOICE DRIVETESTS IN TOWNS, TELE 2 ALSO STRONG
In the voice results of the drivetests conducted in 27 Swedish towns, Telia and also Tele2 show an impressive call success ratio of 100 per cent. As in the categories before, Telia achieves the best score by providing a higher speech quality. In towns, Telenor also provides a high call reliabilty and ranks third considering all KPIs. Tre follows at some distance, but still provides reasonable voice results in this category.
GOOD VOICE RESULTS ON ROADS.TELIA LEADS, TELE 2 FOLLOWS CLOSELY
When it comes to conducting voice calls on the roads, Telia and Tele2 are again in the lead. Once again, Telia provides a better, EVS-based, speech quality. Tre and Telenor rank at some distance compared to the leading two contenders. In terms of call success ratios and speech quality, Tre and Telenor are on a similar level, but slightly longer call setup times make Telenor rank last in this category. As both Telenor and Tre have implemented a lower share of VoLTE up to now, a higher amount of calls with circuit-switched fallback (CSFB, also see page 5) may explain their longer call setup times.
THE VOLUME OF TRANSMITTED DATA IS GROWING RAPIDLY, WHICH EMPHASISES THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA CONNECTIVITY. WHICH SWEDISH OPERATOR MANAGES BEST TO KEEP UP WITH THE INCREASING DEMAND?
Data connectivity is the most prestigious discipline in our benchmark and also in the operators’ marketing. All four Swedish networks claim to cover a large part of the population with LTE services – the claimed percentages all range in the high nineties. And all four operators continue to spend large sums on upgrading and expanding their networks to meet the growing demand – including the installation of early 5G network cells. Today, all four Swedish operators have equipped their 4G networks to offer the combination of LTE carriers in different frequency bands. This “carrier aggregation” is the technical basis for the so called “4G+” services which theoretically support data rates of up to
In order to assess the performance and reliability of data connections, each of our two drivetest cars and also the walktest team carried one Samsung Galaxy S9 per operator. Supporting the so-called LTE category 18, these smartphones were able to benefit from carrier aggregation with download speeds up to 1.2 Gpbs.
P3’S SCORING REWARDS HIGH PERFORMANCE AS WELL AS THE NETWORKS’ AVAILABILITY AND STABILITY
The smartphones constantly performed a suite of tests covering the the download of different types of web pages, downloads and uploads of large files as well as the increasingly important reception of video streams from services like Youtube. For downloads and uploads we recorded average throughputs. In order to assess typical performance as well as peak speeds, we determined the minimum data rates that are available in 90 per cent of the cases plus the peak date rates that would be surpassed in 10 per cent of the cases. At the same time, P3 assesses the networks’ availability and stability by examining the success ratios for each of the mentioned use cases. P3‘s approach for Youtube testing recognizes that this 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.
TELIA TAKES THE LEAD IN DATA DRIVETESTS CONDUCTED IN CITIES
As in the voice discipline, Telia also takes a clear lead in the big city data drivetests with high success rates and an impressive average throughput of more than 110 Mbps in file downloads. A possible explanation is that Telia shows the highest share of 3CA (aggregation of three carrier frequencies) in the cities. Tele2, Telenor and Tre rank closely together, but at a distance to the leading Telia. All operators achieve high success ratios in the data drivetests conducted in cities, providing very good data reliability to their customers. In the Youtube category, Tre shows a particular good performance, ranking closely behind Telia.
TELIA ALSO SHOWS BEST PERFORMANCE IN CITY WALKTESTS
The results of the data walktests that were conducted in eight large Swedish cities, are very similar to those of the city drivetests for data services. Once more, Telia takes the lead with high success ratios but overall somewhat lower data rates than those observed in the drivetests. Tele2, Telenor and Tre also achieve very good scores, performing on a similar level. High success ratios in this category mean a good reliabilty for the use of data services by pedestrians.
TELIA ALSO LEADS IN THE DATA
DRIVETESTS CONDUCTED IN TOWNS
In the 27 smaller Swedish towns visited by our drivetest cars, the ranking is similar to the results achieved in the bigger cities. Telia takes the lead here as well, with Tele2 and Telenor following at some distance, but almost on a par. These two operators, who share their 4G infrastructure, show a wide bandwidth utilization via carrier aggregation in the towns (and also on the roads). Tre scores last in this category, showing some room for improvement concerning service reliability and also in the data rates, particularly in the upload tests.
TELIA ALSO RANKS FIRST ON THE ROADS,WHILE ALL FOUR OPERATORS OFFER VIABLE AUTOMOTIVE CONNECTIVITY
When it comes to using data services while driving on the connecting roads in Sweden, Telia once more achieves the highest score showing high success ratios and overall the fastest throughputs. Tele2, Telenor and also Tre follow at a not too far distance. offering good reliability as well as viable data rates. So, all in all, Swedish customers can rely on stable and fast data connections for the increasingly important automotive connectivity.