Benchmarking the 5G Experience – EMEA – June 2021

Across Europe and the Middle East we see a wide range of 5G experience because of different deployment strategies and types of spectrum available for 5G services. In every country our users saw a much better mobile experience using 5G than was possible previously with 4G or 3G network technologies.

For 5G Download Speed, two countries in the Middle East — UAE and Saudi Arabia — had the fastest experience in EMEA with average 5G Download Speed scores of 274.9 Mbps and 237.4 Mbps, respectively. However, our users in Finland saw a very similar experience to these two countries and had the highest speed in Europe with 221.4 Mbps. In contrast, 5G Peak Download Speed was much faster than the real-world average with our users in Saudi Arabia and Greece topping the chart with an impressive 793.1 Mbps and 777.4 Mbps respectively.

For sharing media, 5G Upload Speed is a key metric. Here, we see European countries ahead of those in the Middle East with Switzerland and Netherlands joint fastest with speeds of 37.3 Mbps and 36.2 Mbps respectively. However, in most markets we are yet to see the full benefit of 5G for upload speeds, which will come as operators roll out newer and more spectrum efficient versions of the 5G standard.

Different countries lead in 5G Video, 5G Games and 5G Voice App Experience compared with 5G speed. The Netherlands had the highest average 5G experience in all three categories. In all three categories, European markets dominate these experiential categories, while Middle Eastern countries slip down the rankings.

For 5G Video Experience, seven countries achieved a score above 80 on our 100 point scale — Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Finland, Greece and UAE — all bar one are European. The top 15 countries all had an Excellent 5G Video Experience (75 or above).

For multiplayer gaming, there are large differences in the 5G Games Experience across the region. While users in Netherlands, Ireland and Germany saw an Excellent experience (85 or above) meaning games were highly responsive and provided immediate feedback, our users in other markets saw Good (75<85), Fair (65<75) or even Poor (40<65) gaming experiences. Operators that wish to use gaming to market 5G services must ensure that their 5G networks deliver on their marketing promises. Otherwise, they risk gamers becoming dissatisfied and preferring to use WiFi networks to play games instead of an operator’s mobile network. 

As 5G Games Experience scores reduce, users will find multiplayer game engines increasingly step in to reduce the impact of worse network connectivity on players, for example by taking partial control of interactions and predicting user behaviors. However, users may still see jerkiness on screen and the resulting experience will be less enjoyable.

We saw a tremendous improvement in average download speed using 5G over older 4G technology. In seven countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Greece, Ireland, Finland and Spain — the average download speed using 5G was over five times faster than using 4G. In other countries we analyzed we found 5G Download Speed was at least 1.9 times faster than 4G.

For Video Experience, we also saw an improvement for our users when they connect with 5G. In fourteen countries, the Video Experience scores were between 5% and 12% higher using 5G compared with 4G. However, our users in Austria saw little difference, because the 5G Video Experience score was just 1% higher.

5G networks continue to be at a relatively new stage in most countries across Europe and the Middle East. 5G users continue to spend a minority of time connected to 5G services. In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia 5G smartphone users spent approximately one quarter of time connected to 5G. But in much of Europe 5G Availability was considerably lower, with users in the Netherlands seeing 15.3% of time connected to 5G, falling to around 10% in Finland, Switzerland, France, Italy and Poland while our 5G users in the UK and Spain spent just 5.6% and 5.3% of time respectively connected to 5G.

The geographic reach of 5G is still modest. Although 5G users saw a greater proportion of locations with 5G service than 5G Availability figures may suggest. In all fifteen countries our 5G users saw 5G service in over one tenth of locations. The greatest 5G Reach was in Kuwait and the Netherlands with scores of 5.4 and 4.9 respectively on a 10 point scale indicating that 5G users experienced 5G service in over half of the locations they visited.

Both 5G deployments and 5G take up are still continuing apace across Europe and the Middle East. As more operators deploy higher speed 5G in more locations we will see the 5G experience improve significantly. The wide differences in both the quality and the extent of the 5G experience across the region indicate how much there is still to do. But already, 5G download speeds are considerably faster than 4G, and 5G offers an improved mobile video streaming experience.