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DT, 1&1, O2 and Vodafone: COVID-19 impact in Germany

Published on April 18, 2020

Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, 1&1 and O2: When will Internet service get back to normal in Germany?



Internet service is holding up quite well and is stable, but Customer Experience has been affected, especially in certain regions and via Wi-Fi:

  • Operators impacted: Deutsche Telekom (DT), Vodafone, 1&1 and O2
  • Date: Several days in March and April 2020
  • Potential impact: Over 34.5 million fixed broadband connections (All, FTTH-VDSL-ADSL-HFC)
  • Most impacted regions: North-Rhine Westphalia, Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg and Schleswig Holstein

   MedUX is closely monitoring the effects of COVID-19, specifically the mobility restrictions and home office and #StayAtHome measures, on the European customer experience and residential fixed broadband performance. 

Hundreds of metrics are being collected in real time (24/7) and analysed to understand how Internet service is performing in European homes. 

This first report focuses on basic service quality parameters (e.g. speed, latency and packet loss) and on some web browsing and video streaming indicators. In general, the results are based on the nationwide average performance of wired connections to the router (via Ethernet), unless otherwise stated. However, we also analyse Wi-Fi and regional performance for some indicators. For this purpose, VDSL and HFC technologies with speed profiles ranging from 50 Mbps up to 400 Mbps for the four biggest operators, Deutsche Telekom, 1&1, Vodafone/Unity and O2, have been taken into consideration. 

Wi-Fi is key and should be taken into account to evaluate the true user experience, considering that a minority of devices are connected via Ethernet. Wi-Fi has come a long way, but its performance is still far from that of a direct Ethernet connection to the router.

How are German networks coping with mobility restrictions and #StayAtHome measures?

German networks have shown a slight degradation in key quality indicators over the last few weeks. The average impact is not very material, but some telco operators have been seeing relevant degradations since the start of social distancing and stay-at-home policies. In an international context, German networks are performing, in general, better than those of some other European countries with stricter lockdown rules and greater traffic volume increases. 

At MedUX, we are pleased with network resilience and telco operators’ efforts to manage this unprecedented situation and make sure there is enough capacity deployed in networks and Internet exchanges. Operators all over Europe are taking reactive and proactive measures to maintain service quality and Internet usage experience. The risk of network congestion is still high, but operators are working hard to mitigate the shock of Internet usage growth. 

MedUX’s data shows that German networks have been somewhat strained since mobility restrictions and social distancing policies began. Degradation has been observed in basic parameters, such as latency, packet loss and contracted speed compliance, and in indicators related to web browsing, gaming, cloud storage and streaming services. However, we believe that the coronavirus lockdown in Germany will make the Internet and the networks stronger than ever. 

How do we, MedUX, monitor network performance and whether the networks are ready for technological challenges and customers’ needs? These are the main findings and other relevant aspects of our impact assessment in Germany:

  1. All regions are affected in some way, but North-Rhine Westphalia, Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg and Schleswig Holstein have had a relatively more significant customer experience degradation.
  2. The drop in compliance with contracted speeds for wired connections (via Ethernet) was up to 2.5% for 50 and 100 Mbps services on average at the national level during peak hours (around 20–21h) of weeks 12 and 13.
  3. The same drop in compliance for wireless connections (via Wi-Fi) was up to 7% for 50 Mbps services during peak hours (around 20–21h) of week 13.
  4. There was an up to 25–35% exceptional decrease in compliance with contracted download speeds for some operators and speed profiles during peak hours (around 20–21h) on the worst-performing days of weeks 12 and 13.
  5. There was an up to 13% increase in latency for 100 Mbps services during morning and afternoon hours on average at the national level and an up to 40 ms exceptional latency for some operators and speed profiles during peak hours (around 20–21h) on the worst-performing days of weeks 12 and 13.
  6. There was an up to 0.12% average packet loss during peak hours (around 20–21h) of week 12 and an up to 2.25% exceptional packet loss for some operators and speed profiles during peak hours (around 20–21h) on the worst-performing days of weeks 12 and 13.
  7. Some operators have been affected by the degradation of web browsing, streaming and gaming experiences, especially the latter because of latency, jitter and packet loss worsening.
  8. The worst-performing operators have suffered a deterioration of streaming and web browsing experiences of up to 30%, especially during weeks 12 and 13.
  9. There was an up to 7% average increase in web loading time (TOP Alexa sites) during afternoon hours on the worst-performing days.
  10. There was an up to 80% average increase in DNS resolution (TOP Alexa sites) during afternoon hours on the worst-performing days of weeks 12 and 13.
  11. There was up to a 5–6% average increase in the start-up and loading time of videos (streaming) during afternoon hours (incl. peak time) on the worst-performing days.
  12. Starting the 30th of March, week 13 (W13), MedUX’s data shows better network stability and a general improvement in some performance indicators can be observed during the first weeks of April. So far, so good, as networks are getting back to normal.

Considering the latest traffic reports in Germany from the largest exchange point in the country and abroad, the DE-CIX Frankfurt, the overall peak trend has remained stable but sustained since the 26th of March (20% increase vs. recent maximum values pre-COVID-19 crisis). 

On the operators’ side, Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges reported that the data traffic volume had doubled. With regard to the operator led by Hannes Ametsreiter, Vodafone Deutschland, on the 18th of March, a light traffic increase of 10–15% was reported in the fixed network, but the Internet remained stable. Vodafone recently reported that a total increase of 80% compared to a normal month in the fixed network was seen in March. As an additional reference, O2 has recorded an increase in traffic of up to 50%. 

We understand that these figures may refer to the overall traffic volume; however, the peak data traffic increase is more relevant, as it is a fundamental factor for network dimensioning and performance purposes. Network experience issues during the busy hour are a key factor for customer satisfaction and churn. 

The critical issue during these extraordinary times is how networks cope with the additional traffic of millions of people working from home and with family members due to social distancing and mobility restriction policies. 

As a reference, see on the figure above the impact on latency for the week starting the 16th of March (W12) during peak time (20–21h), as the percentage of increase against the week beginning the 24th of February (W9), before the lockdown. Most regions were affected in some way, but considering latency as a reference, Bavaria, North-Rhine Westphalia and Hamburg had a relatively more severe degradation in 100 Mbps services. 

We believe that Telco operators have been playing and will continue to play a fundamental role in supporting society during this period and turn risks into opportunities for the overall industry. 

Check out our impact assessment and the value of MedUX solutions for monitoring, analysing and troubleshooting network issues in real time by delivering end-to-end performance and Customer Experience insights based on objective network measurements. User reports and complaints, random performance tests or simple high-level monitorization alone is not enough to resolve and prevent customer experience issues. 

MedUX ecosystem helps our clients reduce the time to insight by obtaining meaningful information about competitive intelligence and impacted customer services in a real-time, controlled testbed. Furthermore, it reduces the time to resolution by collecting detailed statistics about network performance and responding quickly to customer issues and improving the Customer Experience. 

Please feel free to download our free report and country insights for Germany and do not hesitate to get in touch with us at marketing@medux.com to find out more about the coronavirus’s impact on telecommunication networks and further details about our statistics available across Europe. 

At MedUX, we continue to work hard to improve network performance, monitor customer experience and deliver innovative solutions to the telecommunications industry. We have made ourselves available to all German and European operators as well as government agencies to support them and do our bit to improve communications critical to the functioning of society and the economy during these difficult times. 

We have posted similar analysis for ItalySpain and the United Kingdom, which act as a useful comparison to Germany. These reports offer insights into how the customer experience has been impacted in these markets by the coronavirus outbreak and work from home measures.

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