Big network test! Which mobile network provider is ahead?

Network operators in Germany have invested a lot in expanding their networks in recent months. 3G was switched off in 2021, and more and more 5G masts were added in its place. But does this also affect network quality and which provider is actually ahead?

Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone or O2? Anyone signing up for a new cell phone rate plan often asks themselves this question. But how good are the various mobile networks in Germany? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the individual network operators? The experts from Chip and Connect investigated these questions in their respective Network Test 2022 – and came to an identical conclusion.

Once again, the major portals Chip and Connect independently conducted the Network Test 2022. In order to examine the quality of mobile networks in Germany, Chip cooperated with its partner “Net Check” and Connect with “umlaut”. To anticipate the general result: All three networks have improved compared to the previous year.

Network test 2022 – the mobile Internet

The three major mobile providers Telekom, Vodafone and O2 all improved their mobile data connections. The shutdown of 3G in the spring/summer of 2021 has freed up the capacities needed to further expand the faster LTE and 5G. This is now reflected in more stable and faster data connections overall. Network operator Vodafone benefited in particular, almost catching up with Telekom in terms of data transmission in the 2022 network test. However, O2 was also able to improve.

In the major cities, Telekom’s large network lead from previous years has disappeared. Vodafone and O2 have each made a big leap here. According to the evaluation in Chip’s 2022 network test, Vodafone now leads in cities such as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Leipzig – albeit only just. Both networks score “very good” here, with differences only in the second decimal place, Chip reports.

In its 2022 network test, Connect only takes a general look at connection quality in major cities. Here, too, all three network operators are close together, although Telekom continues to lead the ranking. The two providers play their network capacities to their advantage, especially on car routes. However, O2 is also strong and is even ahead of Vodafone in the metropolitan walktests.

In the rural regions, the picture is somewhat different compared to the major cities. Here, expansion continues to lag behind somewhat, but is improving bit by bit. In rural areas, for example, O2 has greatly expanded LTE availability to 93.7 percent (previous year: 78.7 percent). Nevertheless, the network is still lagging behind Telekom (97.2 percent) and Vodafone (95.6 percent).

Telekom and Vodafone lead in terms of 5G

In terms of 5G, Telekom is again ahead in the 2022 network test: “Real” 5G in the 3.6 gigahertz frequency spectrum with speeds of up to one gigabit per second is available in cities at 42.7 percent. O2 is close behind with an availability of 41.9 percent, followed by Vodafone at a distant second with 22.5 percent. In rural areas, 5G has hardly been an issue so far – O2 leads here with an availability of 8.8 percent.

The 5G scores are as follows: Telekom (grade 1.2) ahead of Vodafone (1.5) and O2 (2.6). This is because although O2 is clearly ahead of Vodafone in terms of availability, there are deductions for performance and reliability. O2 is the only one of the three network operators that caps the download speed of the fast 5G network at 500 megabits per second. Telekom and Vodafone regularly managed speeds that were far above that in the “Chip” measurements.

Mobile communications on the train

Connection quality on the rails is and remains a major issue. Because more people are traveling again than in the previous year, network utilization on trains has increased. Among other things, this leads to disappointing results in the individual train assessment. According to Chip-Netztest 2022, Telekom’s network has the best signal quality: 2.3 (previous year: 1.5). Vodafone is in second place with a score of 2.8 (previous year: 1.8), followed by O2 (3.4; previous year: 1.8).

Surprising winner overtakes Telekom, Vodafone and O2 in Internet test

Conclusion of the network test 2022

Even though individual sub-ratings in the 2022 network test from Chip and Connect differ slightly, both come to the same overall result. Accordingly, there has been hardly any change in the overall ranking compared with previous years.

According to the Chip Network Test 2022, Telekom maintains its top position with a score of 1.3 (previous year: 1.3). Vodafone takes second place with a score of 1.4 (previous year: 1.4), followed by O2’s network with an overall score of 1.8 (previous year: 1.6).

The result of Connect's 2022 network test
The result of Connect’s 2022 network test Photo: Connect

Connect does not award school grades, but overall points. Here, too, Telekom comes out on top with a total of 944 out of a possible 1000 points. Vodafone ranks second with a score of 913 and O2 third with 874 points. All three network operators were rated “very good” in the Connect 2022 network test.

Sources

  • Network test chip
  • Connect network test

With material from dpa