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European markets show significant disparity in broadband user experience

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In this analysis, Opensignal looks at user experience on broadband networks across 28 European markets. We have focused on three user experience measures — Broadband Download Speed, Broadband Upload Speed and Broadband Consistent Quality, the latter being a measure of how often users’ experience on a network is sufficient to support common applications’ requirements. 

 

Among the compared markets, France and Spain stand out with the best observed broadband network speeds. Our French and Spanish users record average Broadband Download Speeds of 121Mbps and 114.4Mbps, respectively, and average Broadband Upload Speeds of 88.5Mbps and 91.4Mbps, respectively. The three Scandinavian countries take the lead for the most consistent broadband experience, with our users in Norway, Sweden and Denmark recording the best Broadband Consistent Quality results among the compared European markets, with over 82% of tests exceeding the quality thresholds.

 

 

Average broadband download speeds, as measured among our users in those European countries included, range from 36.5Mbps in Greece to 121Mbps in France. France therefore has the fastest average download speed in Europe, followed by Spain where the average speed is slightly slower at 114.4Mbps. In addition, Spain has the fastest Broadband Upload Speed score in Europe at 91.4Mbps, followed by France with 88.5Mbps.

 

Returning to Broadband Download Speed, France and Spain are followed by Netherlands (104.4Mbps), Switzerland (102.1Mbps), Denmark (99.1Mbps), Hungary (95Mbps), Portugal (93.1Mbps), Romania (89.9Mbps) and Norway (85.8Mbps). These countries represent the next group of European countries with markedly high broadband download speeds, showcasing robust consumer broadband infrastructure for network speeds. Of these seven countries, Denmark, Norway and Romania stand out with distinctly high average broadband upload speeds — 62.1-71.3Mbps — as observed by our users.

 

Our users in Central European countries observe moderate broadband download speeds in the comparison, including Poland (69.5Mbps), Germany (61.8Mbps), Austria (49.7Mbps) and Czechia (47.2Mbps). Broadband Upload Speed scores in those markets are similarly conservative, in the range of 15.5-25.3Mbps.

 

Greece stands out as having the slowest Broadband Download Speed and Broadband Upload Speed measured among our users in Europe, with speeds of 36.5Mbps and 7.3Mbps, respectively.

 

 

In addition to broadband network speeds, we have looked at the measure of broadband network consistency — Broadband Consistent Quality, which assesses how often users’ experience on a network is sufficient to support common applications’ requirements. It includes factors like download and upload speeds, latency, jitter, packet loss, and time to first byte. Likewise, Broadband Consistent Quality varies significantly across Europe, but the well performing markets for this measure are not necessarily the same as those that perform well on network speeds alone. 

 

Norway leads in Broadband Consistent Quality with a score of 84%, which is the percentage of users’ tests that meet the minimum recommended performance thresholds to watch HD video, complete group video conference calls and play games. This means that Norway leads in terms of consistent quality of broadband experience in the compared European markets, as measured by our users. Sweden (83.1%) and Denmark (82.6%) closely follow, highlighting the strong and consistent broadband infrastructure in Scandinavian countries. 

 

Switzerland (81.8%) is the only other country with a score above 80%, bringing the number of markets with scores above this number to four. A further 16 countries have scores above 70%, while an additional seven countries have scores above 60%. Greece (46.4%) stands as the only country where less than half of the tests conducted pass our broadband performance thresholds, among the 28 European countries analyzed.

 

 

This substantial variation in broadband speeds measured across our users indicates disparities in technological advancement and investment in network infrastructure across European nations. This is supported by the data available from the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), allowing us to examine corresponding fiber penetration in the analyzed markets (with the exception of Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Serbia, for which data is not available from the organization). There is a strong and apparent correlation between network speeds and fiber penetration. Fiber penetration in this case refers to the share of total broadband connections in the market that are Fiber-to-the-Premise/Building (FTTP/B) or better.

 

A number of countries stand out as outliers, with a relatively high share of fiber connections in the market but without demonstrating correspondingly high broadband speeds. These countries include Lithuania, Sweden, and Latvia, where over 75% of broadband connections in each country are classified as FTTP/B or better – among the four highest in Europe. However, our users in these three countries observe relatively modest average broadband speeds, with broadband download speeds ranging from 50.4 to 74.8Mbps and broadband upload speeds ranging from 32.4 to 45.5Mbps.

 

Broadband Consistent Quality, meanwhile, has little correlation with fiber penetration altogether, with experience being impacted by a variety of other factors, such as how broadband networks are set up within homes of the consumers. 

 

Our analysis of broadband experience across 28 European countries sheds light on the significant disparities in network speeds and consistency. As we move forward, Opensignal is committed to continuing our research and reporting on various broadband experience metrics, aiming to provide valuable insights into the evolving landscape of internet connectivity. 

 

 

Methodology and definitions

 

Opensignal captures user measurements across all broadband network architectures, encompassing fiber (FTTx), xDSL, cable, fixed wireless access (FWA) via 4G and 5G, as well as satellite, and reports on a holistic evaluation of our users’ experience with the listed providers' internet services. In this report, we have included all user readings, irrespective of the fixed broadband provider. 

 

Tariff characteristics — for example, speed tiers or data caps — vary greatly by provider and the dispersion of the plan mix will affect the average experience result. Opensignal’s measurements capture users’ experience, regardless of the plan that they have purchased from their provider. This report analyzes the real-world situation across all users’ plans.

 

Broadband Consistent Quality    
Measures how often users’ experience on a network was sufficient to support common applications’ requirements. Broadband Consistent Quality uses six key performance indicators, including download and upload speed, latency, jitter, packet loss and time to first byte. Metrics are represented as a percentage of users’ tests that have met the minimum recommended performance thresholds to watch HD video, complete group video conference calls and play games. Broadband Consistent Quality quality is measured across all users in all hours of the day.

Broadband Video Experience    
Opensignal’s adaptive video experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over an operator's network. The metric measures users’ adaptive video experience using a Mean Opinion Score (MOS) approach inspired by International Telecommunication Union (ITU) studies which have derived a relationship between technical parameters of adaptive bitrate video streaming and the perceived video experience as reported by real people.

The videos tested are streamed directly from the world’s largest video content providers and include a wide selection of resolutions that dynamically match the network conditions, available bandwidth and device performance. Resolutions range from 144p to 2160p, which is also called 4K or UHD (Ultra High Definition). The model calculates a MOS score on a 0 to 100 scale by evaluating a number of parameters, including: the time to start playing the video, the quality of the video, the time playing each resolution, and the time spent re-buffering.

Broadband Download Speed    
Measured in Mbps, Broadband Download Speed represents the typical everyday speeds a user experiences across a provider’s network.

Broadband Peak Download Speed    
Measured in Mbps, Broadband Peak Download Speed represents the 98th percentile of the user speed distribution. i.e. this is what the users with the highest speeds within the footprint experience.

Broadband Upload Speed    
Measured in Mbps, Broadband Upload Speed measures the average upload speeds for each internet service provider observed by our users across their fixed networks. Typically, upload speeds are slower than download speeds, but this often depends on the technology used for broadband connections.

 

Note: This article has been updated post-publication on October 16, 2023, at 11:55 am BST to include a 'Methodology and Definitions' section