Germany

5G Experience Report
August 2021

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
Francesco Rizzato Principal Technical Analyst

Key findings

O2 wins the 5G Download Speed award in our first 5G Experience report

Our O2 users experienced the fastest average 5G Download Speeds of 131.4 Mbps, meaning that O2 wins outright our first 5G Download Speed award. O2 secured a 21.3 Mbps lead (19.4%) on second-placed Telekom, which scored 110.1 Mbps, while our Vodafone users saw average 5G Download Speeds of 98.5 Mbps.

Telekom wins 5G Video Experience

Telekom wins Opensignal’s 5G Video Experience award in Germany with a score of 80.5 points (on a 100-point scale). O2 and Vodafone were relatively close behind Telekom, as they scored 78.3 points and 77.1 points, respectively. All three operators placed in the Excellent (75 points or above) category. 5G Video Experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over mobile operators’ 5G networks.

Telekom dominates in 5G Availability and 5G Reach

Telekom is clearly ahead of its competitors in our two measures of the extent of a network, as it wins both 5G Availability and 5G Reach by large margins. Our Telekom users spent 11.1% of their time with an active 5G connection — which was close to three times more than what our Vodafone and O2 users experienced on average. Besides, Telekom scored 3.6 points (on a 10-point scale) in 5G Reach, with a lead of two points on second-placed Vodafone. 5G Availability reflects the proportion of time that 5G users have an active 5G connection, while 5G Reach represents the proportion of locations a 5G user visits that have a 5G signal.

The first winner for 5G Games Experience in Germany is Telekom

Telekom is the sole German operator scoring in the Excellent (85 or above) 5G Games Experience category, as our Telekom users saw an average 5G Games Experience of 87.1 points. Vodafone places second with a score of 82.1 points, while O2 trails behind with a score of 74.2 points. Games Experience measures real-time multiplayer gaming with a 0-100 point scale.

With a large lead Telekom secures the 5G Upload Speed award

In contrast to the 5G Download Speed award, Telekom wins the 5G Upload Speed award, and by a large margin. Our Telekom users on average experienced 27.4 Mbps in 5G Upload Speed, which was 8.7 Mbps and 9.8 Mbps faster than what our users observed on Vodafone and O2. Upload speed is important for sharing photos, videos and documents on social media or using email.

Introduction

In our first look at the 5G experience in Germany, Telekom has performed strongly — winning six out of seven awards outright. Telekom wins all three experiential awards — 5G Video Experience, 5G Games Experience and 5G Voice App Experience — but also 5G Upload Speed and both our awards which measure the extent of a 5G network — 5G Availability and 5G Reach — with considerable margins over Vodafone and O2. However, Telekom places second in 5G Download Speed as O2 wins that award clocking the fastest average 5G download speeds of 131.4 Mbps.

German mobile operators have come a long way in terms of upgrading their networks and deploying 5G since the end of the 5G spectrum auction in June 2019, when they acquired spectrum in the 2100 MHz and 3.5 GHz [1] spectrum bands.

O2 launched its 5G service in October 2020 on the 3.5 GHz frequency band. Despite announcing that it will eventually use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technology and additional frequency bands to tap into rural areas, until recently O2 has focused on deploying 5G in the 3.5 GHz band. However, O2 announced that its 5G service is now available in around 80 cities via a network of approximately 2,000 antennas, and plans to reach 30% of the population by the end of the year thanks to the coming rollout of 5G in the 700 MHz and 1800 MHz bands. Besides, O2 previously announced that it will gradually reallocate to the 5G network its frequencies that are currently used for 3G, but unlike Vodafone and Telekom, which have now completed their 3G switch-offs, O2 is targeting its 3G shutdown by the end of this year.

Telekom initially launched its 5G commercial service in September 2019 using the 3.5 GHz band. In mid-2020, Telekom started using spectrum in the 2100 MHz band for 5G to provide customers with 5G coverage in less densely populated areas, while focusing its 3.5 GHz band deployments in large cities like Berlin and Cologne. In late March 2021, Telekom reported that its 5G network reached 80% of the German population via a total of 50,000 antennas across the country, the large majority of which used frequencies in the 2100 MHz band. This network expansion was facilitated by the adoption of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, as well as by the refarming of 3G spectrum for LTE and 5G networks. In fact, after repurposing half of its 2100 MHz spectrum used for 3G in May 2020, Telekom switched-off its 3G network by July 1st, 2021, freeing up the remaining 2x5 MHz of paired 2100 MHz spectrum it was using for 3G.

Vodafone launched its 5G service in July 2019 using new spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, and later adopted Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technology — which enables the parallel operation of both LTE and 5G in the same frequency band — and started using its 700 MHz frequencies for the deployment of 5G in rural areas. In July 2020, Vodafone reported it was also using the 1800 MHz band to provide 5G in densely populated cities. In late May 2021, Vodafone announced that it had switched on more than 10,000 5G antennas and that its 5G network now reached 25 million people. Besides, Vodafone launched its commercial 5G Standalone Access (SA) network in April 2021.

In this 5G Experience report, we analyzed our users' overall 5G experience in Germany on each of the three nationwide operators, O2, Telekom and Vodafone, over 90 days starting on May 1, 2021, ending July 29, 2021.

[1] In Germany, the 3.5 GHz spectrum band is often referred to as 3.6 GHz band.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, Germany
August 2021, Germany Report
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
5G Download Speed
5G Upload Speed
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
August 2021, Germany
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
5G Download Speed
5G Upload Speed
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Availability
in %
O2
4.1
Telekom
11.1
Vodafone
4.3
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Availability

Telekom is the first German operator to win our 5G Availability award, with a large lead over Vodafone and O2. In fact, our Telekom users were connected to 5G 11.1% of the time, compared to 4.3% on Vodafone and 4.1% on O2. That means our users on Telekom spent between 2.6 and 2.7 times as much time connected to 5G compared to users on the other two national operators.

Opensignal's 5G Availability compares the amount of time 5G users spend connected to 5G — the higher the percentage, the more time users on a network are actually connected to 5G.

5G Availability
in %
O2
4.1
Telekom
11.1
Vodafone
4.3
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

When we compare our 5G Reach and 5G Availability results with the number of 5G antennas recently reported by the German operators, we see that they correlate, as Telekom leads by a large margin in all three measures, with Vodafone and O2 following at a distance. However, we also observe that the operators’ 5G Reach scores in Germany, which ranged between 1.2-3.6 points (on a 10-point scale) are comparatively higher than the 5G Availability scores, which in turn ranged between 4.1% and 11.1%. This means that our 5G users saw 5G in many of the places they visited, but they did not spend as much time connected to it.

German operators have mostly been using higher frequency bands for their 5G networks compared with the popular 4G spectrum bands. As a result we see relatively higher scores for 5G Reach — the share of locations with a 5G signal — than for 5G Availability because users tend to spend more time indoors and so the indoor experience affects 5G Availability to a greater extent. Higher frequency bands are less likely to provide a 5G signal indoors due to physics. However, as mobile operators deploy low 5G frequency bands and 5G Standalone Access (SA) networks — where a smartphone connects exclusively to 5G signals and uses a modern 5G core network — they will see their 5G Availability improve.

5G Reach

Telekom claims the victory in our inaugural 5G Reach award, scoring 3.6 points (on a 10-point scale), and securing a two-point lead on second-placed Vodafone, and coming 2.4 points ahead of O2. Vodafone and O2 scored 1.6 points and 1.2 points, respectively.

5G Reach represents the proportion of locations where 5G users have connected to 5G out of all the locations those users have visited, on a scale of 0-10. This measure complements our 5G Availability metric which represents the proportion of time 5G users spend connected to 5G.

5G Reach
in 0-10 points
O2
1.2
Telekom
3.6
Vodafone
1.6
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Video Experience

Opensignal’s 5G Video Experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over an operator's networks where users are connected to 5G technology.

Telekom wins the 5G Video Experience award with a score of 80.5 points (on a 100-point scale). However, O2 and Vodafone were relatively close in this category, as the two operators scored 78.3 points, and 77.1 points, respectively. All three mobile operators in Germany achieved an Excellent (75 or above) score in 5G Video Experience, which represents a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling.

5G Video Experience
in 0-100 points
O2
78.3
Telekom
80.5
Vodafone
77.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Games Experience

Our users’ mobile gaming experience was quite different on the three German 5G networks, as Telekom, Vodafone and O2 scored in three different categories. Telekom comes first in 5G Games Experience with a score of 87.1 points on a 100-point scale, placing in the Excellent (85 points and above) category. Vodafone comes second by scoring 82.1 points and placing in the Good (75-85 points) category, while O2 trails behind in the Fair (65-75 points) category having scored 74.2 points.

Opensignal’s 5G Games Experience measures how mobile users experience real-time multiplayer mobile gaming on an operator’s 5G network. Measured on a scale of 0-100, it analyzes how the multiplayer mobile gaming experience is affected by mobile network conditions including latency, packet loss and jitter to determine the impact on gameplay and the overall multiplayer gaming experience.

5G Games Experience
in 0-100 points
O2
74.2
Telekom
87.1
Vodafone
82.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Voice App Experience

We saw a tight competition on our measure of 5G Voice App Experience, with just 1.4 points separating all three operators’ scores. Telekom wins this category with a score of 83.6 points (on a 100-point scale), while Vodafone and O2 scored 82.6 points and 82.2 points, respectively. All three operators placed in the Good (80-87) category.

Opensignal's 5G Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience for over-the-top (OTT) voice services — mobile voice apps such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger — when users are connected to a 5G network. All three mobile operators scored in the Good category (80-87 points), which means that many users were satisfied although some experienced minor quality impairments — clicking sounds or distortions were very occasionally present.

5G Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
O2
82.2
Telekom
83.6
Vodafone
82.6
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

5G Download Speed

O2 wins our first 5G Download Speed award with a score of 131.4 Mbps, and a lead of 21.3 Mbps on second-placed Telekom, which scored 110.1 Mbps. Vodafone scored just below the 100 Mbps threshold, as our users on its network saw average download speeds of 98.5 Mbps when they connected to 5G.

These results represent the real-world 5G speeds where our users had an active 5G connection. Higher frequency bands generally offer a larger amount of spectrum bandwidth which helps to enable faster mobile download speeds than lower bands where there is less capacity.

However, these high frequency bands also have shorter signal propagation. Mobile operators’ use of a range of frequency bands for their 5G services helps explain their users’ 5G experience. In fact, O2, which has been focused on using the high 3.5 GHz band comes on top, followed by Telekom, which uses spectrum in the 2100 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands, with Vodafone closing the list as it uses 700 MHz, 1800 MHz and 3.5 GHz frequency bands for its 5G network.

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
O2
131.4
Telekom
110.1
Vodafone
98.5
0 33.75 67.5 101.25 135
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

5G Upload Speed

Telekom wins the 5G Upload Speed award with a score of 27.4 Mbps, while Vodafone and O2 scored 18.8 Mbps and 17.6 Mbps, respectively.

While download speeds always attract the most attention, upload speeds are becoming increasingly important to users. Sharing photos and videos on social media or large files all benefit from fast upload speeds.

5G Upload Speed
in Mbps
O2
17.6
Telekom
27.4
Vodafone
18.8
0 7.5 15 22.5 30
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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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.

More about Methodology

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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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