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Mapping Italy's network congestion - Naples and Palermo lead in speed declines

In this analysis, Opensignal examines the congestion levels experienced by our users in major Italian cities and across the country. We have measured the degree of congestion in 21 cities by comparing the network experience during the busiest hours of the day (18:00 - 23:59), compared to that during the morning (06:00 - 11:59) when networks are relatively uncongested and not affected by power-saving measures employed by Italian network operators at night.


This analysis reveals variations in the level of congestion across different operators and cities in Italy. Palermo and Napoli stand out with the largest congestion-related hits to network experience in the country, experiencing download speed reductions of 23.2% and 22.8%, respectively. When considering operators' networks, TIM and WindTre show the most significant comparable declines in user experience, with drops of 23.9% and 21.5%, respectively, affecting their networks nationwide. Additionally, these two operators face the most challenges in individual cities. Fastweb users experience a comparable decline of 15.8% across Italy, and are least affected by congestion when compared with other network users, except for Padua and Firenze where Fastweb’s network appears to struggle.


Italian network operators are implementing energy-saving practices at night, which can impact consumers' overall experience during those hours, as was shown in a recent Opensignal insight. These energy-saving measures vary depending on the city and operator. To accurately compare and isolate the impact of congestion, we selected the morning hours of 06:00 - 11:59 as the base for comparison, as during this period networks are typically less congested and unaffected by energy-saving measures.



Across Italy on average, the network experience reaches its peak at 4 a.m. and then declines as the day progresses, hitting the lowest level at 9 p.m. Late at night, when few people are on their phones and outside their homes, networks are lightly loaded and daily speeds at their fastest. The reverse is true during the afternoon and early evening, when the sheer volume of mobile traffic leads to greater congestion, often causing speeds to drop and the quality of experience to decline for video streaming, multiplayer gaming as well as for other apps. Among key mobile experience metrics, our users see the most significant relative variation throughout the day in their download speeds. During the morning hours (06:00 - 11:59), users experience average download speeds of 37.6Mbps. However, during the busiest evening hours (18:00 - 23:59), this drops to 29.7Mbps —a 21.2% decline related to network congestion.



This congestion-related decline in download speeds varies by mobile network operator. Our users on TIM see the most significant congestion – their download speed is 23.9% lower during the busy evening hours (18:00 - 23:59), while users on Fastweb see a drop of only 15.8% – the lowest among all of Italy’s national operators.


The difference in time of day experience also varies dramatically between cities in Italy. Palermo and Napoli exhibit the greatest congestion out of the cities we have analyzed, with significant declines in average download speed during the busy evening hours (18:00 - 23:59) of 23.2% and 22.8% respectively. Conversely, Verona, Padua, and Venice have the least congested networks, with reductions ranging from 12.5% to 14%, much lower than in most other cities.


TIM and WindTre face the biggest challenges when dealing with congestion during the busy hours. WindTre's network struggles significantly in Palermo, Torino and Trieste, facing declines of 26-27%. TIM experiences considerable issues with declines in user experience in several cities, including Prato and Napoli, with declines of 27.2% and 24.9% respectively. Conversely, Fastweb users experience relatively less congestion, notably doing well in Milano – the second largest city in Italy – with users seeing a decline of only 9.3% there Fastweb’s network is well above the rivals. Iliad users in Milano experience a particularly strong 22.9% congestion decline, as well as in Prato and Palermo with 22.7% and 20.2%, respectively. Vodafone faces particular congestion challenges in Prato, Napoli and Genova, with declines of 20.3-23.4%.


Below follows a more detailed look at the five biggest cities in Italy – Palermo, Naples, Turin, Rome and Milan.


Palermo has the most congested mobile network, out of the 21 major cities analyzed in Italy. WindTre users experience the most congested network, with the biggest decline of 26% during the busy evening hours (18:00 - 23:59), followed by TIM with 22.2%, Iliad with a drop of 20.2%, and Vodafone's network showing a decline of 19.2%. Remarkably, users on Fastweb do not measure a significant impact by congestion at all in Palermo, with Fastweb’s network being much more resilient in the city than that of other operators.


Naples is the second most congested city, out of the 21 cities analyzed in Italy. In Naples, TIM experiences the largest drop with a decline of 24.9% during the busy evening hours (18:00 - 23:59), followed by WindTre with 22.5%, and Vodafone with a drop of 21%. Iliad and Fastweb do considerably better – Iliad users see a fall of 17.4%, while Fastweb has a decline of 16.5%.


Turin stands as the fourth most congested city, out of the 21 cities analyzed in Italy. WindTre is by far the most congested network in Turin, whose users experience the largest decline of 27% during the busy evening hours (18:00 - 23:59). Other operators do considerably better — TIM sees 19.4% decline, Iliad a fall of 17.8% and Vodafone a drop of 15.8%. Fastweb again has the least congested network, as it does better than the rest with a decline of 12.4%.


Rome stands as the sixth most congested city, out of the 21 cities analyzed in Italy. In Rome, all of the operators have considerable decline in download speed during the busy evening hours (18:00 - 23:59). WindTre experiences the most substantial reduction with a decline of 21.2%, followed closely by TIM with a decline of 20.1%, and Iliad with a decline of 19.4%. Vodafone's network also faces a considerable decrease, showing a decline of 19%, while Fastweb users see less congestion with a fall of 15.8%.


Milan stands as the ninth most congested city, out of the 21 cities analyzed in Italy. In Milan, Iliad stands out as being the most congested network, with the largest fall in download speed during the busy evening hours (18:00 - 23:59) with a decline of 22.9%. This is followed by WindTre with a drop of 19.5% and TIM with a fall of 18.5%. Vodafone does better with a decline of 15%, while Fastweb users are much less impacted by congestion with a fall of 9.3%.