State of Mobile Networks: Netherlands (September 2017)

Mobile broadband availability and speeds in the Netherlands are nothing short of excellent. OpenSignal LTE and 3G test results in the country exemplify this through more than 152 million datapoints from over 19,000 devices collected in the second quarter of 2017. Even so, in our analysis of the customer experience seen on KPN, Tele2, T-Mobile and Vodafone, we found one operator emerging as the clear leader in this competitive market.

Report Facts

152,031,533
Measurements
19,154
Test Devices
2017-05-01 - 2017-07-31
Sample Period
Netherlands
Report Location

Highlights

Mobile data consumers in the Netherlands have it good

The four major Netherlands operators tested by OpenSignal showed outstanding 4G availability and far better than average LTE network speeds compared to their peers around the world. Operator investments combined with a densely populated, relatively small geographic area are the likely reasons. With tested 4G downloads topping 38.4 Mbps and an LTE connection available more than 86% of the time, the Netherlands ranks in the top 10 globally in both OpenSignal's LTE speeds and availability tests.

T-Mobile stands out from the crowd

Although Tele2 and Vodafone showed some strong results, T-Mobile won or tied five of the six OpenSignal test categories. The operator had the fastest 4G downloads at 46.4 Mbps and the lowest LTE latency in our tests. We also measured comparable availability, 3G latency and overall download speeds to its three rivals on T-Mobile's networks.

KPN has catching up to do

KPN was the only Netherlands operator not to lead or tie in any of our six test metrics, a bit of surprise as KPN was the first network provider to complete its 4G network implementation. Still, from a global perspective KPN had exceptional results in most of OpenSignal's metrics. It just happens to operate in a market saturated with exceptional operators.

Tele2 and Vodafone in a tight race

While T-Mobile emerged as a clear leader in our metrics, we also spotted an intense rivalry between Tele2 and Vodafone brewing. Tele2 was a step ahead of Vodafone when it came to our overall download measurements (30.8 Mbps compared to 24.8 Mbps for Vodafone), and it won our 3G latency award. But Vodafone and Tele2 were deadlocked in both our 4G availability and 3G download results.

Awards Table

Download Speed: 4G Download Speed: 3G Download Speed: Overall Latency: 4G Latency: 3G Availability: 4G

KPN

T-Mobile

medal medal medal medal medal

Tele2

medal medal medal medal

Vodafone

medal medal

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Performance by Metric

Download Speed: 4G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: 3G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: Overall

This metric shows the average download speed experienced by OpenSignal users across all of an operator's 3G and 4G networks. Overall speed doesn't just factor in 3G and LTE speeds, but also the availability of each network technology. Operators with lower LTE availability tend to have lower overall speeds because their customers spend more time connected to slower 3G networks.

Latency: 4G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Latency: 3G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Availability: 4G

This metric shows the proportion of time OpenSignal users have an LTE connection available to them on each operator’s network. It's a measure of how often users can access a 4G network rather than a measure of geographic or population coverage.

Analysis

If you use mobile broadband in the Netherlands, you’ll likely find the experience to be better than in most other countries around the world. Indeed, based on our most recent global OpenSignal State of LTE report, the Netherlands appears in the top six countries for 4G availability (86%) and 4G download speeds (38.4 Mbps), an indication of robust operator networks. It certainly helps that the country is relatively small in terms of geographic area and has a high population density. That allows for operators to blanket the country with LTE airwaves with less worry about low-population rural areas often found in other regions. It also makes the market very competitive for all operators.

Taking a deeper dive into the Netherlands at an operator level shows that not all of the four main providers are quite equal. Drawing 152,031,533 measurements gathered from 19,154 OpenSignal users between May and July 2017, we drilled down into the 3G and 4G consumer experience on the networks of the Netherlands four major operators: KPN, Tele2, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

T-Mobile leads the way with 4G

While many of the six OpenSignal tested metrics of availability, 3G and 4G download speeds and 3G and 4G latency were close between the operators, T-Mobile won two of those categories and tied in three others. OpenSignal users on the T-Mobile network saw notably faster 4G download speeds of 46.4 Mbps compared to the other three operators. For comparison, KPN and Tele2 were roughly equal in this metric with 38.6 and 36.4 Mbps LTE download speeds, but even so, that’s a large difference from T-Mobile’s results. Regardless, no operator in the Netherlands could be accused of offering slow speeds. All four of the service providers tested returned LTE results among the fastest in the world. The slowest 4G speed result we measured for an operator in the Netherlands was still 13 Mbps faster than the global LTE download average of 16.2 Mbps measured in our LTE report.

T-Mobile’s superior 4G download results were likely due to the aggressive use of an LTE-Advanced technique called carrier aggregation. KPN, Tele2 and Vodafone networks have each combined 30 MHz of spectrum while T-Mobile does so with 45 MHz of airwaves across three bands -- it was the first to do so in November 2016. What's more, T-Mobile's already world-class 4G speeds could soon get even faster. The operator is the first in the country to support more complex modulation schemes: It added 256 QAM capabilities as well as a fourth band for carrier aggregation in August 2017, both of which could provide another big boost in LTE performance.

Those fast T-Mobile’s 4G download speeds were accompanied by the lowest latency we measured among the operators with average LTE round-trip connection times at 32.7 milliseconds. However, KPN, Tele3 and Vodafone were not far behind with LTE latency scores all within 10ms of T-Mobile.

OpenSignal tests of 3G networks in the Netherlands display a more even match between the operators. Download speeds results indicated that 3G experiences on T-Mobile, Tele2 and Vodafone are fairly comparable with HSPA downloads ranging from 5.8 to 6.6 Mbps across the trio’s networks. KPN lagged its competitors in our tests, however, at 4.3 Mbps, though that score was right in line with the global 3G download average of 4.4 Mbps. (Tele2 doesn't operate its own 3G network. Instead it has a virtual operator agreement with T-Mobile, so our 3G speed and 3G latency results for Tele2 reflect measurements taken while roaming on T-Mobile's HSPA network.)

3G reaction time on Tele2 stood out as it had the lowest 3G latency of 55ms in our tests. T-Mobile and Vodafone virtually tied this metric with measured latency results of 69.7 and 69.1 milliseconds respectively. KPN’s 3G network again brought up the rear, with round-trip data connections timed at 84.7ms.

LTE signals for all

Of course, a mobile broadband network is only as good as its availability, regardless of its download speeds or latency. And here, all four carriers provided excellent access to LTE signals in our testing. Our results show that three of the four were able to provide an LTE connection just over 90% of the time, putting Tele2, T-Mobile and Vodafone in a deadlock for our 4G availability award. KPN's 4G availability score of 88.1% was just short of making the contest a four-way tie.

Network availability is a relative strength for all four operators in the Netherlands and not just because of the benefits of covering a small regional area. Each operator owns LTE spectrum across at least three frequency bands, for example, and all of them save for T-Mobile have low-band service at 800 MHz; ideal for better service indoors.

Regardless of the differences in 3G and 4G metrics between operators, however, OpenSignal’s analysis shows that the overall mobile data experience available to consumers in the Netherlands to be quite impressive. Our overall speed metric combines 3G and 4G speeds and the availability of each type of network. Typically there is a huge chasm between the 4G speeds and the overall speeds we seen in a country. In Vodafone's case, overall speed was only 4.5 Mbps shy of its average 4G speed in our tests, while the biggest variance we recorded between the two metrics was 11.8 Mbps on T-Mobile. Our users were able to connect across all of their operator's available mobile data networks at speeds of 25 Mbps or greater -- in many countries that's the equivalent of wireline broadband. This further highlights just how ubiquitous and how powerful 4G is across the Netherlands.

Our Methodology

OpenSignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks as they go about their daily lives. We collect 2 billion individual measurements every day from tens of millions of smartphones worldwide.

Our measurements are collected at all hours of the day, every day of the year, under conditions of normal usage, including inside buildings and outdoors, in cities and the countryside, and everywhere in between. By analyzing on-device measurements recorded in the places where subscribers actually live, work and travel, we report on mobile network service the way users truly experience it.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the changing experience of consumers on mobile networks and, therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only. For more information on how we collect and analyze our data, see our methodology page.

For this particular report, 152,031,533 datapoints were collected from 19,154 users during the period: 2017-05-01 - 2017-07-31.

For every metric we've calculated statistical confidence intervals and plotted them on all of the graphs. When confidence intervals overlap for a certain metric, our measured results are too close to declare a winner in a particular category. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

©2017 OpenSignal, Inc. All rights reserved.

OpenSignal, Inc retains ownership of this report including all intellectual property rights, data, content, graphs & analysis. Reports produced by OpenSignal, Inc may not be quoted, reproduced, distributed, published for any commercial purpose (including use in advertisements or other promotional content) without prior written consent.

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