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MedUX QoE Benchmarking: Residential fixed broadband in Europe

Published on October 8, 2019

MedUX QoE benchmarking of fixed broadband performance

Fixed broadband and 5G: Competing or complementary?

With the arrival of 5G, which promises high speed connections and low latency to the point of matching (or surpassing) fixed broadband access, industry paradigms and investment focus might change.  

Apart from the arrival of 5G, there are other factors that continue to accelerate the evolution of fixed Internet connections such as changing user behaviour and needs, the expansion of more demanding and dynamic Over-The-Top services (e.g. Netflix in 4K o MMO games like League of Legends) or even the necessity of new, real-time use cases and larger capacities. In Europe, in line with the European Commission objective for 2025 [1], there have been massive deployments of fibre to the home (FTTH) in the most competitive markets, which has in turn ensured faster, more stable broadband connections with better features. 

The MedUX ecosystem, deployed in Europe, focuses both on the monitoring from an end-user perspective and on the improvement of telecommunications networks with ADSL, VDSL, Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial (HFC) and FTTH fixed access technologies. MedUX makes more than 3 million tests every month from the MedUX HOME devices which have been deployed in 8 European countries [2], representing more than 350 million inhabitants. 

In order to see how broadband adapts to new technological challenges as well as to consumer demands, at MedUX we have produced the first MedUX QoE benchmarking of fixed broadband performance in residential homes (1H 2019) based on a comprehensive analysis about the state of fixed connections in Europe. 

This study covers a few of the most relevant network performance indicators, namely the compliance of contracted speeds (downlink and uplink), the performance of the different fixed broadband technologies, information delay or access time, and their impact on end-users. These are the main findings and other relevant aspects of our report:

Competitive Benchmarking: FTTH providers offer better performance service than other fixed broadband technologies

The performance of FTTH technology has certain advantages against other fixed-broadband technologies, in addition to having greater potential for the progressive improvement of service delivery conditions. FTTH technology delivers its commercial promises, with a compliance rate of 93% of contracted download speeds and 104% of contracted upload speeds and a lower average latency compared to other technologies. 

Figure 1: Statistical distribution at European level of the percentage of compliance of contracted downlink speed. | Source: MedUX


5G is reaching similar performance levels to the most advanced fixed technologies 

At the moment, the results recently obtained in the first deployments of 5G technology show a comparable performance to that of the most advanced fixed technologies in general. It is yet to be demonstrated that future 5G deployments meet what is promised by the technology and approach typical values above 1 Gbps and latencies in the range of a few milliseconds. In early deployments, such as South Korea, common download values ranging from 150 to 500 Mbps, and delay values ranging from 50 to 200 ms have been observed.

Spain is one of the best-prepared countries due to its vast ultra-fast broadband deployment

Spain is at the forefront of the fibre deployment in Europe. Currently, out of the total number of installed accesses 65.2% of households are FTTH, 14.6% of connections are HFC and 18.6% are copper lines, and “the percentage of lines with speed equal or higher than 100 Mbps reached 58.7%”, according to the 2018 annual report of Spanish regulatory authority, CNMC. In Spain the deployment of broadband networks is best prepared to compete with or complement 5G due, in particular, to their vast fibre deployment and excellent upload and download speeds in the home environment.

Spain, together with Portugal, have a higher contracted speed compliance rate than countries such as Italy, UK or Germany, with percentages between 105% and 110%, and have outstanding results in latency, upload speeds and download speeds in the home environment, with delays lower than 20 ms, guaranteeing excellency in real-time service delivery, including video calls and streaming. 

Figure 2: Percentage of compliance of downlink contracted speed by country. | Source: MedUX

Countries such as Greece, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom face significant challenges

Regular users of demanding internet services, such as real-time gaming, face some limitations according to contracted commercial offers, particularly in terms of latency.  

Greece, Italy Portugal and Germany are most affected by the effect of congestion, and their peak time network performance would not meet the most demanding user needs. The user experience could be affected in these countries as the median during peak hours would be outside the recommended area of excellence for gaming (latency less than 20 ms).

"It is essential to measure the quality of the actual user experience to assess the development and state of Internet connections and thus improve the service offered by telecommunications operators. Information on technical parameters such as uplink and downlink speed, latency or jitter is crucial to facilitate a smooth and uninterrupted service," says MedUX co-founder Luis Molina. "Fixed broadband has shown that it can be complementary to 5G," he adds.

Figure 3: Statistical distribution of latency (ms) at European level by technology (median by country at peak hour). | Source: MedUX

   For the most part, technologies such as xDSL don’t meet most users’ requirements, and countries such as Greece and Italy, or even Germany and the United Kingdom, lag behind in network performance, which could present a serious challenge if faster and more reliable fixed-broadband networks are not deployed soon. 

MedUX technology focuses on monitoring and improving telecommunications networks from the end-user’s perspective, including parameters and indicators related to the actual user experience such as web browsing, video streaming, gaming, cloud storage and file sharing, social media, or the speed and stability of the Internet connection. 

"The constant evolution of cloud services and offerings, such as streaming from HD to 4K, online gaming from groups to mass tournaments with thousands of viewers, or desktop applications that move 100% to the cloud like Salesforce or Microsoft Office, keep constant pressure on Internet Service Providers, regardless of their technology. This dynamic requires such a frequent review of strategies, plans and deployments that the reliable real-time market data provided by MedUX becomes a key component of a sustainable development”, explains MedUX co-founder Agustín Batiz. 

“Granular, real-time and data-driven insight into the customer experience, across a range of different applications and criteria, is a potential game-changer in customer management and retention. Next-gen experience monitoring tools such as these from MedUX are poised to take all the guesswork out of customer satisfaction, with significant implications for carriers worldwide”, commented Emma Mohr-McClune, Service Director, Global Telecom Consumer Services, Platforms and Devices at GlobalData, a leading worldwide industry analyst firm.

If you want to know more about fixed broadband performance and read the full study, contact us at hello@medux.com.  

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[1] For 2025, the European Commission has set the strategic objective that all European households will have access to Internet connectivity offering a downlink of at least 100 Mbps, upgradable to Gigabit speed. COM/2016/0587 from 14th September 2016. COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market - Towards a European Gigabit Society. 

[2] Data obtained from MedUX´s massive deployment in Germany, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom as well as early deployment in France (indicative figures are shown from deployment of the initial pilot project). 

* The "MedUX QoE Benchmarking on Residential Fixed Broadband in Europe" analyzes the state of fixed connections, excluding the performance effect of the home wireless network, thus referring only to Ethernet interface measurements. In particular, the study used data from June 2019 as the most recent month of the first half of the same year. Unless otherwise indicated, the figures and graphs mention average performance at a country level, excluding details on the effect of time-sharing of traffic and congestion on networks, as well as any regional particularities in network deployment and technology, or operator performance at an individual level.  

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