Opensignal has analyzed how much time our German smartphone users spent connected to 4G networks — 4G Availability — during the 90 days period starting on April 1, 2020. Our 4G users on average experienced 4G Availability of 90.9% and 84.2%, respectively, across urban and rural districts. These scores were 8.7 and 10.7 percentage points higher than the respective averages we measured in June last year, when Opensignal published its first analysis looking at 4G Availability across Germany’s urban and rural districts.
In this analysis we found that our smartphone users in 77 out of 401 districts spent more than 90% of their time connected to 4G networks, compared to just one last year - the urban district of Halle, which we saw reaching 90.2% in 4G Availability then. Of these 77 districts, 59 were urban districts, with Fürth, Aschaffenburg and Halle coming at the top scoring 95.3%, 94.7% and 94.4%, respectively.
Peine was the rural district showing the highest 4G Availability score of 92.5%, while the highly populous Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich also all featured 4G Availability higher than 90%, with scores of 92.9%, 92.6%, 92.0% and 91.7%, respectively. Out of these four urban districts, Berlin recorded the largest improvement of 9 percentage points compared to last year’s report, while Munich saw the smallest increase of 5.6 percentage points.
In this analysis, the bottom five districts by 4G Availability were all rural districts. Südliche Weinstraße came at the bottom of our list with a 4G Availability score of 57.5%, while Südwestpfalz, Waldshut, Freudenstadt and Kaiserslautern scored 63.2%, 67.5%, 68.3% and 68.5%, respectively.
Last year we observed 88 districts with average 4G Availability lower than 70%, and of those only four were urban districts. This time, seven districts scored below 70% with no urban district among them. Frankfurt an der Oder, the urban district that last year surprisingly featured the lowest 4G Availability score of 47.5%, showed the largest improvement having now reached 74.3%, an increase of 26.9 percentage points.
A lot has happened within Germany’s mobile industry since our first urban-rural analysis last year, that highlights the continuous improvements made by the German mobile operators:
Mobile operators have extended 4G to reach new towns and areas. For example, Vodafone announced that it expanded its 4G service to new locations including Schluechtern, Straelen, Kranzberg, Bernried and Grossengottern. On the other hand, Telekom deployed 4G in 260 locations along the border, where customers were able to access the 4G network for the first time.
Vodafone, Telefonica and Telekom announced their collaboration to eliminate mobile broadband coverage gaps by sharing infrastructure in rural areas and alongside transport routes. Vodafone and Telekom later confirmed their collaborative intentions.
In the past few months we have seen how the COVID-19 pandemic affected users’ mobile network experience across the globe, although we saw no impact on Germany’s 4G Download Speeds, suggesting that mobile networks have been highly resilient.
Germany’s urban-rural 4G Availability gap is narrowing, but more time is needed to match the other major European countries
Similarly to our first urban-rural analysis last year, in 2020 we still measure a different mobile experience across urban and rural districts, but now our analysis shows that Germany’s smartphone users are benefitting from mobile operators’ efforts in closing the urban-rural broadband connectivity gap, and that in the past year we have seen 4G Availability on average rise faster in the rural districts.
Provided mobile operators continue to upgrade their networks, Germany’s smartphone users should expect to see their 4G Availability rise even further in the coming months. However, Germany still has some way to go to close its 4G Availability gap with the other European countries.
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