Germany

Mobile Network Experience Report
May 2019

Opensignal Active Userbase in Germany
Total Devices
461,940
Total Measurements
1,700,680,777
Data Collection Period
Jan 01 Mar 31, 2019

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Peter Boyland Senior Analyst

Key findings

Telekom wins 4G Availability but its lead is shrinking

Telekom kept hold of our 4G Availability award with a lead of over 6 percentage points. But both O2 and Vodafone have significantly increased their scores in the past six months, closing the gap on the leader as aggressive network upgrades pay off.

Telekom continues to excel in our speed metrics

Telekom topped both our Download and Upload Speed Experience tables by a pretty wide margin. The winner's Download Speed Experience score was 60% faster than its closest rival, while in Upload it was 70% quicker. But we've seen some fair improvements from all three operators in our speed metrics.

Telekom leads a close-run race in Video Experience

Video Experience was the tightest of our award metrics, with less than 2 points (out of 100) separating the top two. And Video Experience in Germany is improving, with two operators now scoring a Very Good rating.

Vodafone holding onto a slim lead in Latency Experience

Vodafone came top in Latency Experience — the only one of our national awards that didn't go to Telekom. But our analysis shows that both Vodafone's 4G and 3G Latency scores are falling, allowing its rivals to catch up.

Germany cannot wait for 5G to improve its mobile network experience

Opensignal's analysis has shown that Germany consistently performs poorly compared to the rest of Europe across many of our metrics. 5G is coming, but the country's operators need to improve their 4G networks now or risk falling further behind their neighbors.

Introduction

Our latest look at Germany shows that Telekom continues to dominate the mobile network experience, winning four of our national awards. The operator is head and shoulders above its rivals in our speed metrics, and Telekom remains a clear leader in 4G Availability, though both its rivals have put in impressive sprints over the last six months to close the gap. We've also seen some notable improvements in our Video Experience scores, with two operators now in the Very Good category.

In our latest Germany Mobile Network Experience Report, we've analyzed the mobile experience over 90 days from the start of 2019 to see how the country's three main operators O2, Telekom and Vodafone stack up.

Germany's 5G auction is in full swing, with bidding over the €5 billion mark at the time of writing. The sale of spectrum in the 2100 MHz and 3600 MHz bands raises the possibility of a fourth operator in Germany, as Drillisch Netz, a subsidiary of 1&1 Drillisch, has joined the bidding. Drillisch says it plans to launch as a 5G operator, but it's unclear at this stage whether it’s planning a full consumer service or something more enterprise-focused.

Germany's operators have been pretty quiet on their 5G plans, presumably waiting for the outcome of the auction before setting out their stalls. We expect to see 5G launched in Germany by the end of 2020, but it's likely to be some years before the benefits of these new networks are felt by the majority of mobile users.

Germany's 5G auction includes coverage obligations: regulators expect the winning German operators to provide 100 Mbps speeds to 98% of the population by 2022 — less than four years away. And there still remains some doubt as to whether the operators will even meet the coverage obligations that were attached to the most recent 4G auction in 2015. That auction’s terms mandated the winning operators to cover 98% of the population with 4G by the end of 2019, but the latest figures from O2, Telekom and Vodafone show they remain some way short of this goal.

Opensignal recently analysed 4G Download Speeds on Germany's licensed spectrum bands, and found that while some users in urban areas were enjoying speeds over the 50 Mbps mark, the experience for the majority of smartphone users was barely half that. And our analysis has shown the country consistently fails to measure up to its European neighbors across many of our metrics. Germany's operators cannot afford to wait for the 5G opportunity — they need to make some pretty urgent improvements to their mobile network experience today.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, Germany
May 2019, Germany Report
4G Availability
Video Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
Latency Experience
Download Image
Mobile Experience Awards Winners
May 2019, Germany
4G Availability
Video Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
Latency Experience
Download Image

Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
4G Availability
in %
Telekom
85.5
Vodafone
79.4
O2
67.3
0 22.5 45 67.5 90
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

National Analysis

4G Availability

Telekom won our 4G Availability award fairly comfortably with a score of 85.5%, up nearly 4 percentage points since our last report. But the real story in this category was the rise of its rivals. Both O2 and Vodafone saw their 4G Availability scores jump in the last six months — O2's by over 7 percentage points, and Vodafone's by close to 10 percentage points.

4G Availability
in %
Telekom
85.5
Vodafone
79.4
O2
67.3
0 22.5 45 67.5 90
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Telekom is still over 6 percentage points ahead in our 4G Availability measurements. But its rivals are closing the gap, with Vodafone close to passing the 80% milestone in our measurements. And the 4G Availability race was even closer in Germany's cities, where Vodafone managed to score a draw with Telekom in all seven of the metros we analyzed (see Regional Analysis, below).

Telekom's showing in our awards table makes it clear it's still the dominant operator in the German mobile market. But its rivals are putting pressure on the leader, as both O2 and Vodafone continue aggressive 4G network upgrades and LTE 800 deployments. For its part, Telekom is not resting on its laurels, continuing 4G expansion (albeit at a slightly less aggressive pace than its rivals). We expect to see 4G Availability continue to rise over the next couple of years, as increased competition drives Germany's operators to improve their mobile experience.

Video Experience

Telekom came top of our Video Experience rankings — but we saw the closest race of all our award metrics in this category. Telekom and Vodafone were neck-and-neck with Video Experience scores of 70.2 (out of 100) and 68.3 respectively.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Telekom
70.2
Vodafone
68.3
O2
61.5
Poor Fair Good Very Good Excellent
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Video Experience
Supporting Metrics
in 0-100 points
4G Video Experience
71.8 (± 0.38) 71.3 (± 0.36) 68.0 (± 0.38)
3G Video Experience
58.1 (± 1.28) 54.4 (± 1.06) 45.9 (± 0.96)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | May 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.
4G Video Experience in 0-100 points
72 (± 0.38)
71 (± 0.36)
68 (± 0.38)
3G Video Experience in 0-100 points
58 (± 1.28)
54 (± 1.06)
46 (± 0.96)
Mobile Network Experience Report | May 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Interestingly, the gap between the three operators is even closer when we look at our 4G Video Experience supporting metric. Less than 4 points separated all three operators, while Telekom and Vodafone were statistically tied, both with scores just over 71 points. But Telekom's greater 4G Availability meant our users on its network were able to watch video over LTE more often, giving the operator the edge in our overall Video Experience rankings.

And we've seen some fairly impressive improvement across the board in this metric. Since our last look at Video Experience among Germany's operators six months ago, we've seen all three operators' scores increase by at least 7%. O2 saw the greatest jump of over 13% in its score to move from a Fair Video Experience rating to a Good rating, meaning streamed video exhibits some loading time before playback begins and some stalling, especially at higher resolutions. Both Telekom and Vodafone now have Very Good ratings, meaning more consistent fast loading times and only occasional stalling across all resolutions.

Germany's Video Experience is less impressive when compared to its European neighbors, however. In our analysis last Autumn, the country was firmly in the bottom half of our European table for Video Experience, below arguably less-developed markets such as Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia. And while Germany's operators have grown their scores, we've seen similar improvements elsewhere, meaning there is doubt as to whether this will be enough to propel the country up the European rankings. If Germany is serious about becoming a European leader in mobile experience, its operators will need to continue to aggressively invest in their networks.

Download Speed Experience

Germany's Download Speed Experience scores are on the increase, with all three operators improving their scores by around 3 Mbps since our last report. But despite the across-the-board improvements, one operator remained way ahead of the pack in this metric. Telekom's average Download Speed Experience score of 33.4 Mbps was a clear 12 Mbps ahead of Vodafone's 20.8 Mbps, and nearly double O2's 17.0 Mbps.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
Telekom
33.4
Vodafone
20.8
O2
17.0
0 8.75 17.5 26.25 35
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Download Speed
36.3 (± 0.46) 23.6 (± 0.32) 20.6 (± 0.22)
3G Download Speed
10.2 (± 0.22) 8.0 (± 0.18) 8.3 (± 0.13)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | May 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.
4G Download Speed in Mbps
36 (± 0.46)
24 (± 0.32)
21 (± 0.22)
3G Download Speed in Mbps
10 (± 0.22)
8 (± 0.18)
8 (± 0.13)
Mobile Network Experience Report | May 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

But Germany's download speeds don't compare particularly well when ranked alongside their European counterparts. We recently analysed the leading multi-country operators Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone, measuring the Download and Upload Speed Experience in each European country where they operate. Our analysis showed that Telekom's average Download Speed Experience was worse in Germany than those of T-Mobile Netherlands or Magyar Telekom in Hungary. Vodafone Germany was at the base of Vodafone's table, with slower speeds than Greece, while Telefónica-owned O2 Germany's Download Speed Experience was well behind that of Movistar in Spain.

Germany is a mature mobile market, with comparable levels of competition, numbers of operators, topography, etc. to its European neighbours. So what's the reason for these relatively unremarkable mobile broadband speeds? It would be easy to blame poor performance on underinvestment in network infrastructure, but the reality is a combination of many factors including regulation, availability of spectrum, and mergers and acquisitions such as O2's merger with E-Plus.

The fact remains that Germany is punching well below its weight in terms of mobile network speeds. And there's growing discontent among the business community in the country on the pace of mobile network experience improvements, with claims that poor broadband speeds are hindering economic growth. Germany's network speeds are improving, but the country's operators cannot afford to take their feet off the gas if they wish to improve their showing on the international stage.

Upload Speed Experience

Telekom won our Upload Speed Experience award, topping the table with an even greater margin than we saw in Download Speed. Telekom's winning Upload Speed Experience score of 10.9 Mbps was over two-thirds faster than either of its rivals. O2 managed a second place finish in our Upload Speed Experience metric, as its score of 6.4 Mbps narrowly beat Vodafone's 6.1 Mbps.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
Telekom
10.9
Vodafone
6.1
O2
6.4
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Upload Speed
12.1 (± 0.17) 7.1 (± 0.10) 8.4 (± 0.09)
3G Upload Speed
1.8 (± 0.05) 1.7 (± 0.05) 1.6 (± 0.03)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | May 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.
4G Upload Speed in Mbps
12 (± 0.17)
7 (± 0.10)
8 (± 0.09)
3G Upload Speed in Mbps
2 (± 0.05)
2 (± 0.05)
2 (± 0.03)
Mobile Network Experience Report | May 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

This pattern was repeated in our 4G Upload Speed supporting metric, with Telekom's score of 12.1 Mbps over 44% faster than its rivals. But all three operators improved their 4G Upload Speed scores by roughly 1 Mbps since our last report on the German mobile market.

Upload speeds are typically slower than download, as current mobile broadband technologies tend to be focused on providing the best possible downstream rates for users consuming content. But upload is becoming increasingly important to the mobile experience as mobile user habits shift away from downloading and consuming to uploading and creating content.

Latency Experience

Vodafone won its only national award in our Latency Experience category, where its score of 39.9 milliseconds beat Telekom's 42.4ms and O2's 49.5ms. Latency measures the delay users experience as data makes a round trip through the network, meaning the lower the latency score, the better.

Latency Experience
in ms The lower the figure the better the latency
Telekom
42.4
Vodafone
39.9
O2
49.5
0 12.5 25 37.5 50
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Latency Experience
Supporting Metrics
in ms
4G Latency
39.8 (± 0.20) 36.9 (± 0.15) 44.5 (± 0.20)
3G Latency
63.4 (± 0.83) 53.7 (± 0.67) 61.7 (± 0.43)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | May 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.
4G Latency in ms
40 (± 0.20)
37 (± 0.15)
44 (± 0.20)
3G Latency in ms
63 (± 0.83)
54 (± 0.67)
62 (± 0.43)
Mobile Network Experience Report | May 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Vodafone also topped both our latency supporting metric tables — but interestingly, its scores in both categories are getting worse, meaning response times are getting longer. In 4G Latency, Vodafone's score of 35.4ms rose by 1.5ms since our last report (compared to Telekom and O2 who both saw incremental improvements). In 3G Latency, Vodafone's score similarly worsened by nearly 3ms to 50.7ms, while Telekom's also increased by 2ms.

While these rising 3G Latency scores may merely be a result of reallocation of network resources to 4G, the increases in 4G Latency scores run counter to the improvements of 4G technology in recent years. They are likely a result of network challenges such as poor network routing, peering issues or a side effect of increased congestion.

Latency is becoming more important as mobile user habits change and unlimited data connections become increasingly ubiquitous. As latency improves, the mobile user experience gets better on a host of real-time applications and services, from web browsing to voice over IP to online multiplayer gaming.

We recently tracked the latency performance of Germany's operators, looking at the trends in their 3G and 4G Latency scores during the last nine months of 2018. We found that while Vodafone was ahead in both metrics, both its rivals are closing the gap. Vodafone has managed to top our latency metrics in Germany — a feat which the operator should be proud of, given Telekom's dominance elsewhere. But Vodafone's lead is slipping, and it needs to ensure it addresses any congestion issues if it hopes to stay ahead of the pack.

Regional Analysis

In our analysis of our five award metrics across seven of Germany's largest cities, we saw a fair bit of variation when compared to our national results. The main surprise was in 4G Availability. Telekom managed to win this category fairly comfortably at a country level, but it was held to a tie by Vodafone in all seven of the cities we analyzed.

We would expect 4G’s reach to be higher in Germany's cities since operators tend to focus their investment on urban areas. And we saw our users enjoy 4G Availability scores over 90% in two cities: on Telekom's network in Nuremberg and over Vodafone's in Hannover. O2 wasn't without its own achievements, passing the 80% 4G Availability threshold in over half of the cities we analyzed. But 4G reach can vary pretty widely, even within a single city. We recently took a deep dive into 4G Availability by postcode in Central Berlin, and found a wide variation in our measurements, ranging from 68% at the low end to 94% on the high end, demonstrating how tricky urban environments can be for operators to deliver a consistently great mobile network experience.

Telekom's dominance of our speed metrics at a national level was reflected in Germany's cities. Of our 14 Download and Upload Speed Experience awards on the city level, Telekom won 10 outright and tied with Vodafone in the other four. We also saw some of our highest scores on Telekom's network, as the operator passed the 50 Mbps Download Speed Experience milestone and the 15 Mbps Upload Speed Experience mark in both Berlin and Cologne.

We also saw closer scores in our Latency Experience measurements in Germany's cities. Vodafone led this category, winning outright in four cities and drawing in two — but Telekom won in Cologne. The range of Latency Experience scores was much narrower in some metros, as O2 tied with Telekom for second place in Hamburg and Munich. Latency is becoming one of the key battlegrounds in our analysis of the German mobile experience, and as network investment ramps up we expect to see competition increase across all of our metrics.

Select any region below to display individual breakdown

Berlin

4G Availability
in Berlin
in %
Telekom
87.4
Vodafone
87.5
O2
80.6
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Video Experience
in Berlin
in 0-100 points
Telekom
73.4
Vodafone
70.3
O2
62.3
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Berlin
in Mbps
Telekom
50.6
Vodafone
38.5
O2
20.2
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
in Berlin
in Mbps
Telekom
17.0
Vodafone
9.2
O2
7.7
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Latency Experience
in Berlin
in ms
Telekom
40.3
Vodafone
37.4
O2
48.1
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Cologne

4G Availability
in Cologne
in %
Telekom
88.0
Vodafone
85.5
O2
83.0
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Video Experience
in Cologne
in 0-100 points
Telekom
76.5
Vodafone
71.2
O2
62.3
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Download Speed Experience
in Cologne
in Mbps
Telekom
52.7
Vodafone
30.8
O2
19.9
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Upload Speed Experience
in Cologne
in Mbps
Telekom
16.2
Vodafone
7.9
O2
7.4
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Latency Experience
in Cologne
in ms
Telekom
32.1
Vodafone
38.0
O2
42.1
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Frankfurt

4G Availability
in Frankfurt
in %
Telekom
89.0
Vodafone
86.2
O2
73.6
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Video Experience
in Frankfurt
in 0-100 points
Telekom
72.4
Vodafone
69.4
O2
56.9
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Download Speed Experience
in Frankfurt
in Mbps
Telekom
36.9
Vodafone
33.4
O2
13.3
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Upload Speed Experience
in Frankfurt
in Mbps
Telekom
14.5
Vodafone
8.1
O2
6.4
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Latency Experience
in Frankfurt
in ms
Telekom
33.6
Vodafone
33.3
O2
43.2
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Hamburg

4G Availability
in Hamburg
in %
Telekom
87.8
Vodafone
89.5
O2
79.0
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Video Experience
in Hamburg
in 0-100 points
Telekom
73.8
Vodafone
70.6
O2
61.5
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Download Speed Experience
in Hamburg
in Mbps
Telekom
44.6
Vodafone
35.5
O2
16.9
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Upload Speed Experience
in Hamburg
in Mbps
Telekom
14.2
Vodafone
8.7
O2
7.0
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Latency Experience
in Hamburg
in ms
Telekom
43.7
Vodafone
37.2
O2
42.6
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Hannover

4G Availability
in Hannover
in %
Telekom
89.8
Vodafone
91.6
O2
75.7
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Video Experience
in Hannover
in 0-100 points
Telekom
67.2
Vodafone
68.1
O2
64.1
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Download Speed Experience
in Hannover
in Mbps
Telekom
39.2
Vodafone
25.5
O2
20.3
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Upload Speed Experience
in Hannover
in Mbps
Telekom
10.7
Vodafone
8.1
O2
7.0
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Latency Experience
in Hannover
in ms
Telekom
35.1
Vodafone
34.1
O2
46.4
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Munich

4G Availability
in Munich
in %
Telekom
86.0
Vodafone
88.6
O2
84.4
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Video Experience
in Munich
in 0-100 points
Telekom
71.1
Vodafone
71.8
O2
66.3
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Download Speed Experience
in Munich
in Mbps
Telekom
41.1
Vodafone
37.6
O2
22.4
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Upload Speed Experience
in Munich
in Mbps
Telekom
13.8
Vodafone
9.2
O2
8.4
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Latency Experience
in Munich
in ms
Telekom
41.6
Vodafone
37.6
O2
40.7
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Nuremberg

4G Availability
in Nuremberg
in %
Telekom
91.9
Vodafone
89.1
O2
83.0
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Video Experience
in Nuremberg
in 0-100 points
Telekom
69.6
Vodafone
74.3
O2
58.8
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Download Speed Experience
in Nuremberg
in Mbps
Telekom
41.9
Vodafone
29.4
O2
19.4
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Upload Speed Experience
in Nuremberg
in Mbps
Telekom
13.6
Vodafone
10.3
O2
8.1
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Latency Experience
in Nuremberg
in ms
Telekom
37.1
Vodafone
32.8
O2
63.2
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Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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