Satellite services will help with no mobile signal areas in Germany

In the last few months, several industry players have announced plans to support satellite connectivity on smartphones. Opensignal has previously looked at how much time our users spent with no signal across 100 global markets — including regional analysis of Canada and the U.S, where Apple initially introduced its iPhone 14 emergency satellite service in November. 

Since the initial announcement, Apple has already expanded the availability of its Emergency SOS via satellite services to four markets from December — France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK — and will likely cover even more countries soon. Now, Opensignal takes a more granular look at Germany to track the differences in mobile signal availability across the country.

Opensignal has analyzed how much time our users spent with no signal across all 401 German districts — 107 urban and 294 rural districts — between August 1, 2022 and October 29, 2022. We observed that in several districts in southern Germany, our users spent more than 2% of the time with no signal — with a higher percentage of rural communities hitting this mark than the urban ones. 

Across Germany, the national average of time spent with no signal was 1.1% in the observed period. On the regional district level, we observed time with no signal scores ranging from 0.2% in Suhl (Thüringen) to 3.3% in Erding (Bayern). The majority of districts where time with no signal exceeded 2% were in southern states of Germany, with numerous districts above this mark were in the states of Bayern and Baden-Württemberg. By contrast, in more than half of the districts in western and central states like Nordrhein-Westfalen, Niedersachsen or Sachsen-Anhalt, time with no signal was lower than 1%. 

Similar to our previous analysis, we observed a notable disparity between urban and rural areas of Germany. Our users across more than half (55.1%) of the 107 urban districts recorded less than 1% of the time with no signal — while only under a third (29.3%) of 294 rural districts observed the same result. Looking at the urban districts where our users saw more than 2% of the time with no signal — nearly twice the national average — only two crossed this mark across Germany: Kempten and Landshut, both in Bayern. This makes up less than 2% of German urban districts in total — compared to 7.8% of rural districts which are placed in the same segment (23 in total).

When comparing the proportion of German districts segmented by time with no signal across the German states, we observed Bayern, Thüringen, and Baden-Württemberg as states with the highest share of districts with the average time with no signal at 2% or above. While in the case of Thüringen and Baden-Württemberg this meant around 9% of total state districts — in Bayern, this proportion reached 16.7% of its state districts. By contrast Nordrhein-Westfalen, Saarland and Sachsen-Anhalt had over 60% of districts with time with no signal below 1% on average — which was the best result for all German states, not counting city-states like Berlin or Bremen.

Opensignal also looked at year-on-year changes between 2021 and 2022 in terms of time with no signal, to track progress across German districts. We observed statistically significant improvement in 16 out of 401 districts — with Bamberg in Bayern and Oberspreewald-Lausitz in Brandenburg seeing the biggest improvements of one percentage point or higher, compared to the same time period in 2021. 

Out of 16 districts with statistically significant improvements, three of them are urban districts — Berlin, Fürth in Bayern, and Suhl in Thüringen — while the rest are in rural areas. Suhl was a district with one of the lowest times with no signal results in Germany. Meanwhile, the rural district of Ravensburg in Baden-Württemberg and Günzburg in Bayern observed substantial increases in their time with no signal scores of 0.8 and 0.9 percentage points, respectively — meaning, our users in these areas were less likely to connect to mobile networks in 2022, compared to 2021.

German mobile operators focus on covering gray signal spots

Local governments are very concerned with the quality of mobile networks and actively monitor dead signal spots in their areas. As this Opensignal analysis demonstrates, there are still districts in Germany where users experience a lot of time with no signal, especially in the rural areas.

Opensignal’s data shows significant improvements in mobile connectivity across some districts —, both urban and rural — which is likely the result of German operators’ joint efforts on improving the mobile signal footprint across the country. Vodafone and Telekom announced the coverage of 2,600 previously dead signal spots since early 2021. Both operators have signed agreements with O2, allowing them to share their network infrastructure and provide mutual access, affording coverage to even more locations. Opensignal will continue to track how operator efforts improve users’ mobile experience across Germany and the development of the new smartphone satellite connectivity offerings.