Part of the reason for the slower mobile experience Opensignal observed in Germany and the U.K. is the relative strength of their incumbent mobile operators, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone. Opensignal’s analysis has found these two leading multi-country operators offered a faster experience to their mobile users in markets outside of their country of origin (unlike Spain’s Telefónica).
When Opensignal compared average Download and Upload Speed Experience for Vodafone in its key European markets, they found the U.K. was firmly in the bottom half of the table, below markets like Romania and Hungary. Notably, Germany was at the base of Vodafone’s table, with slower speeds than Greece.
Germany is third in seven of Telekom’s key European markets – Netherlands is at the the top of Telekom’s table — but Opensignal measurements show the operator also provides a considerably better average Download Speed Experience in Hungary than it does in its home market, while the German experience is on a par with Slovakia.
In Opensignal analysis of Telefónica’s European operations, they have found that Movistar Spain topped the table in both our Download and Upload Speed Experience metrics. Germany and the U.K. were some way behind — in fact O2 UK’s average download speed was less than half of its counterpart in Spain in Opensignal measurements.
So what’s the reason for these relatively poor mobile broadband speeds in Germany and the U.K., Opensignal asks?
It certainly isn’t market maturity or competition, as both countries have had mobile networks for decades and levels of competition, numbers of operators, etc. are comparable with their neighbours. Topographically, both countries have challenges in terms of size and population density, but no more than, say, Italy or Spain. 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 among network operators.
The fact remains that Germany and the U.K. are punching well under their weight in terms of mobile network speeds. Both countries are on the verge of 5G launches, but it is likely to be some years before the benefits of these new networks are felt by most mobile users. And there is growing discontent among the business community in Germany, with claims that poor broadband speeds are hindering economic growth.