Orange France, the country’s leading cellco in terms of subscribers, has topped the quality of service (QoS) survey conducted by domestic telecoms watchdog the Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (Arcep) in the first quarter of 2014. The regular survey is carried out in order to assess the performance of the four domestic cellcos – Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Free Mobile – in the retail market. Arcep said that the results are based on more than 90,000 measurements of calling, texting and mobile data services, taken across the whole of mainland France (indoor and outdoor), in metropolitan areas and, for the first time, in several hundred rural communities. Most of the QoS measurements were taken on 2G/3G networks, although the regulator pointed out that metrics for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks were taken on a trial basis in Paris, Lyon, Lille, Marseilles, Strasbourg, Nantes, Toulouse, Toulon, Saint-Etienne and Montpellier. However, Arcep said that the next QoS survey will include detailed LTE findings on an operator-by-operator basis.
According to the survey results, Orange France performed above the average for a large number of indicators (213 out of a total of 258 indicators), followed by Bouygues Telecom (75), SFR (38) and Free Mobile (two). In terms of data services over 3G networks, Orange France topped the pile for transmission speeds with average downlink/uplink of 9.3Mbps/1.8Mbps, while Bouygues Telecom trailed behind with 5.7Mbps/1.3Mbps, SFR (4.2Mbps/1.2Mbps) and Free Mobile (4Mbps/1.4Mbps). Over a comparable geographical area, the speed of the operators’ 3G service has increased by around 30% since the previous survey. Orange also had the largest proportion of high flow rate (43% of the measurements exceeded 8Mbps downlink and 1.5Mbps uplink); in comparison Bouygues Telecom showcased 28% (downlink above 8Mbps) and 36% (uplink above 1.5Mbps), SFR – 19% (8Mbps, downlink) and 25% (1.5Mbps, uplink), and Free Mobile – 12% (8Mbps) and 32% (1.5Mbps).
Meanwhile, Arcep pointed out that the tests reveal that 4G throughput is substantially higher than with 2G/3G: the median download speeds over 4G networks are 17.9Mbps, compared to 7.2Mbps (2G/3G), while upload speeds increase from 1.5Mbps (3G) to 5.5Mbps over LTE. Although the regulator said that ‘there continue to be tremendous disparities between operators’ 4G services’, no LTE data has been published on an operator-by-operator basis.