Site density is key to LTE network performance – and critical for 5G
February 2019

Analysis of 99 mobile networks across EU28, Norway and Switzerland, key network performance drivers and implications on 5G infrastructure and spectrum investment strategies

Country highlights
  • Finland has the densest LTE cell site grids but below average number of spectrum bands deployed per LTE site, and outperforms most European countries in key LTE performance metrics – even in the most loaded hours of the day – despite having 8x the EU28+NO+CH and 17x the German traffic load, normalised for population
  • Germany, the largest European mobile market, has the weakest LTE cell site grids and also relatively few LTE bands deployed per cell site – unsurprisingly, it is lagging behind in LTE performance
  • Play Poland has the most LTE bands deployed per cell site on average
  • Telenor Norway has the most LTE band transmitters deployed normalised for population (sites x band per site / pop)
Key findings
  • Some countries stand out in average LTE throughput but have comparatively high occurrence of sub-3Mbit/s download speed samples
  • Dramatic differences in data traffic volume (Finland vs Germany) do not necessarily lead to congestion issues, at least not in the form of decreased download or latency performance at peak times. Five of the six countries with the heaviest relative data traffic load (Finland, Austria, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden) have better than EU28+CH+NO average LTE performance
  • A dense LTE grid is a stronger predictor of consistently good performance (particularly handling peak traffic loads) than number of spectrum bands deployed
  • Contrary to the often-heard small-cell-centric 5G rollout narrative, we are not aware of any European operators that are planning to undertake a significant 5G small cell rollout
  • Operators that so far relied heavily on low-band (800 MHz) based LTE coverage will face greater challenges in rolling out consistent high capacity 3.5 GHz-based 5G indoor coverage than those that invested into relatively more dense, higher-band-centric (LTE 1800, 2100, 2600 MHz) macro site grids



With the indispensable help of Tutela, a mobile data and analytics company serving the mobile and telecommunications industry, we conducted an in-depth analysis using Tutela’s live network statistics, selected a set of LTE performance indicators and assessed the performance of 99 4G LTE EU28, Norwegian and Swiss mobile networks. In addition to exploring LTE performance, we also analysed how key LTE network architecture metrics differ across European networks.

Tutela crowdsources more mobile network statistics than any other company in the world, collecting over 30 billion location-based mobile quality data points every day, from over 250 million mobile handsets, embedded into the codes of over three thousand partner applications like games and weather apps (Tutela pays to the app’s developers in return for hosting its code). In addition to measuring throughput, latency and other key performance indicators, Tutela also collects detailed information on signal strength, cell site IDs and the used frequency bands.
Free content
Rewheel-Tutela research note (27 pages, pdf) » Download here


2019
spectrum
networkeconomics
Finland
Switzerland
Germany
Elisa
Play
Telenor
Vodafone
5G
Back
List of all research reports and external articles


Featured research reports

Unlimited mobile data – Why Finland is different
2020
Finland
Elisa
DNA
TeliaCompany
pricing
5G

February 2020
... and why operators in other markets can’t easily replicate the Finnish model

Rolling out 5G fibre-through-the-air under the exceptionally strict Swiss EMF radiation limits
2019
Switzerland
Sunrise
spectrum
massiveMIMO
5G
mobile-first

December 2019
In December 2019 Sunrise invited Rewheel to try its 5G based home broadband solution in Switzerland. Rewheel had previously provided consulting support for Sunrise in preparation for the 5G spectrum auction that was held in early 2019. After the modelling work and conceptual sessions, we were eager to go back to Switzerland to see how Sunrise’s engineers managed to turn theory into practice.

3.6 GHz 5G spectrum valuation in Poland
2019
Poland
Polkomtel
Orange
DeutscheTelekom
Play
5G
merger
spectrum

December 2019
The value of 3400-3800 MHz 5G band is substantially higher in Poland than in other large EU markets. The spectrum valuations of the four Polish operators are highly asymmetrical.

Competitiveness of Czech mobile data prices – April versus September 2019
2019
dfmonitor
pricing
Czechia
Vodafone
DeutscheTelekom
PPF
spectrum
unlimited

October 2019
The Czech government commissioned Rewheel to review the state of competitiveness of Czech smartphone mobile data tariffs, ahead of the upcoming 5G-centric spectrum auction where a frequency package is to be reserved for a new, 4th entrant mobile operator.

2018 capacity utilization and 5G capacity potential of mobile operator existing macro cell site grids
2018
spectrum
mobile-first
massiveMIMO
UK
Canada
Hutchison
Finland
Elisa
5G
networkeconomics
Verizon
UnitedStates
Play
Poland

October 2019
When will EU28 & OECD operators run out of 4G capacity and how many more gigabytes per subscriber per month can they carry with 5G? A Rewheel research PRO-study of 143 European, US, Canadian, Japanese, Korean and Australian operators

Root cause of weak competition in the Canadian wireless market
2019
Canada
Telus
Bell
Rogers
Shaw
spectrum
pricing

September 2019
The Canadian wireless market is ruled by provincial mobile network duopolies and monopolies. While in some provinces regional operators increasingly challenge the incumbents, at the national level, Canada is a de-facto network duopoly.

4G era – Who got the most out of it?
2019
Elisa
DNA
Play
Iliad
Tele2
DeutscheTelekom
Vodafone
Telefonica
Drillisch
Swisscom
Sunrise
Germany
UK
Netherlands
Ireland
Austria
France
Italy
Finland
Sweden
Denmark

May 2019
5-year mobile service revenue trends for 143 operators present in EU28 & OECD markets. Finnish operators that executed ‘unlimited everything’ strategies were the undisputed champions of the 4G era.

The market is changing. Mobile data pricing and network economics metrics and research reports for industry professionals
PRO >


Contact us:

Tel: +358442032339
E-mail: research@rewheel.fi
Twitter: @RewheelResearch

Copyright © 2009-2020 Rewheel Oy. All rights reserved.