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Telekom, Vodafone and O2: Which network is the best – the Connect tests show it

“Connect” trade magazine
The mobile phone providers in the big test: All are getting better – but one is dashing forward

5G not only promises faster speed, but also less busy networks (symbol image)

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Every year the trade journal “Connect” extensively tests the German cellular networks. This year, for the first time, 5G will play a bigger role. And although Telekom is clearly ahead, the gap continues to shrink.

Which German cell phone provider offers the best reception, which one the fastest Internet – and what about the difficult connection in trains? Every year the trade journal “Connect” pursues these questions in a complex process. The ranking has not changed this year either, but the test offers exciting insights.

The clear winner is still Telekom, which is the eleventh time that it asserts itself as first place in the “Connect” test. Vodafone follows in second place, followed by O2 parent Telefónica. But the gap is getting smaller and smaller: For years Telekom was the only participant with a “very good” overall rating, now all three can be happy about the top grade – albeit with slightly different scores in detail. If you consider that in the aftermath of the merger of O2 and E-Plus, only four years ago, Telefónica was only “sufficiently”, that is quite remarkable.

So was tested

As in previous years, “Connect” is working with the Umlaut agency for the test this year. In order to check the networks, testers with special smartphone kits were sent into the country, which started calls and data queries almost continuously and checked reception, voice quality, connection speed and other data. Large and small towns as well as connecting roads and railway lines were checked on foot, in the car or on the train. According to “Connect”, a total of 268,763 data and 92,753 speech samples were evaluated. With special apps, data from customer smartphones could also be made available to complete the picture. This is where the data from 725,174 participants came together.

The results are quite interesting. The voice quality (30 percent of the overall rating) is consistently very good, but everyone has room for improvement on connecting roads. This is where Telekom is most likely to convince. In the case of O2, the difference between big cities and the country can be felt most clearly. However, Telefónica was the only participant to improve its performance on rail lines.


The supreme discipline of data

A similar picture emerges with the data connections, which contribute 45 percent to the overall result. Here, too, Telekom is ahead, the other two companies are catching up. However, nothing changes in the ranking – Vodafone on two, Telefónica on three. This is remarkable for two reasons: On the one hand, all corporations switched off their 3G networks in the course of the year (you can find out more here), but this did not have any measurable disadvantages for customers in the test. On the other hand, they all expanded their 5G networks. And presented a very different picture here.

“Connect” expressly praises the rapid expansion of the new network, but not all providers are making equal headway. In large cities, for example, Telekom can already offer 90 percent of its customers a connection with the modern standard, while the others cannot even come close to that. On the other hand, the slowest Telefónica in terms of expansion can score in one sub-area: While the competitors rely on “Dynamic Spectrum Sharing” (DSS), a technology in which the data load is distributed between 4G and 5G, the O2 network largely relies on pure 5G – and is therefore even ahead of the other providers when DSS is hidden. Umlauts mobile communications boss Hakan Ekmen dem had the fact that the expansion of the 5G network is proceeding impressively quickly stern already confirmed in summer.

The good development is noticeable in the individual assessments: All three providers achieve their highest overall rating. Telekom improves by 18 to 944 out of a possible 1000 points. With that, Team Magenta has only six points of an “outstanding” overall maintenance, notes “Connect”. At Vodafone, the jump is the greatest with 37 points, and for the first time the group cracks the 900 mark with 913 points. And O2 has also made good gains with 22 points: with 874 points there is also a “very good” overall result. The biggest winner of the competition is likely to be the customers anyway.

You can find the full test in the current issue of “Connect”.

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