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Telekom, Vodafone, O2: How to find the best network

  • The technology magazines Connect and Chip have published their independent tests of the German mobile network.

  • The Telekom network is test winner in both studies, but only just ahead of Vodafone.

  • The network of O2 performs by far the worst. Probably because the merger of the networks of O2 and E-Plus will continue until the end of 2018.


Mobile networks in Germany are getting better and better. This is the result of two independent tests of the technology magazines Connect and Chip. All three German mobile phone networks have increased in terms of data and phone quality compared to the previous year, in the O2 network of Telefónica, but the testers still found serious weaknesses. Tight test winner is the mobile network of Telekom, closely followed by Vodafone.

In both networks, the user can surf stable and fast and call reliably, at Telekom usually a bit better than with Vodafone. Only in the train Vodafone is a little more reliable. O2 is worthwhile for customers only if the tariff is clearly cheaper than with the other two network operators. Connect released its annual mobile test on Tuesday (full results can be found here); The detailed test results from Chip are online since last Friday.

In the test of Connect the telecom network comes to 901 out of 1000 possible points (grade “very good”), Vodafone reaches 876 points (also “very good”) and Telefónica 553 points (“sufficient”). Chip awards 91.3 out of 100 possible points to Telekom (grade 1.4), 88 points to Vodafone (1.6) and 66.7 points to Telefónica (3.1). In addition to data and telephone connection quality, Chip also rates the pure availability of the network, which is one of the reasons why the O2 network performs slightly better on the chip than on Connect.

The Connect testers tested the quality of the network while driving in so-called drive tests in 19 major German cities, 28 small towns and on connecting roads; In addition cars were equipped with several smartphones. In addition, they were traveling in long-distance trains. In ten cities testers have checked the network in public buildings and public transport on foot. In total, they covered around 23,000 kilometers for the test. Chip also relies on drive and walk tests in five major cities, ten medium-sized cities and 20 small towns, as well as connecting roads and railways.

The test results in detail:

  • Chip emphasizes in its results that all three German network operators would have improved compared to 2016. Despite “sharply tightened evaluation criteria”, the overall grade “very good” was awarded for the first time ever. Also in the Connect test, Telekom and Vodafone are adding an increased rating key; Telefónica’s O2 network alone gets fewer points than last year.
  • The bad score for O2 should feel customers especially when they are on the go. According to the Connect test, for example, only about four out of five calls were successfully connected in the drive test on connecting roads. In comparison, Telekom and Vodafone come to around 99 percent and 97 percent, respectively. In addition, the call setup takes twice as long, the voice quality is worse. As a reason, the testers suspect the ongoing network merger of E-Plus and O2. Telefónica intends to fully integrate the two networks by the end of 2018. In 2019, “last optimization work” will be carried out and about double mobile stations will be dismantled, according to the company.
  • The test from Chip considers LTE network coverage separately: LTE is more frequently available in all three networks, downloads load faster and the voice quality for calls via the LTE network (VoLTE) is better than in 2016. Last year Telekom and Vodafone were in this category aufzulegen, 2017, Chip honors the telecom network to the “winner LTE”.
  • Especially in the mobile data, the network of the Telekom cuts off better than the competition. In the voice tests Vodafone is in the test of Connect only one point behind the Telekom. In long-distance trains, voice and data connections of the Vodafone network are even better than those of Deutsche Telekom. Devices with a Vodafone network were able to connect more frequently in a variety of tests, such as visiting a website or playing a Youtube video. For this purpose, devices with telecom network download data faster in most cases. Overall, however, there is still room for improvement in terms of network coverage in the train, writes Connect.
  • Compared to mobile networks in Austria and above all in Switzerland, German providers are performing less well. The tested Austrian and Swiss network operators each receive at least the overall grade “good” in the Connect system. Sunrise and Swisscom from Switzerland were even rated as “outstanding”.


Note d. Editor’s note: In the tables made available to us in advance by Connect, Vodafone was given the same rating as “good”. This was apparently corrected before publication on “very good”. In an earlier version of this article, we referred to the preliminary test result. We have also corrected the score now.

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