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Pura Vida! Who has the best network quality and experience in Costa Rica? (I)

Published on August 10, 2023
Pura_Vida _Quién_tiene_la_mejor_calidad_y_experiencia_de_red

The Superintendency of Telecommunications (SUTEL) of Costa Rica has been annually publishing the results of the National Evaluation of telecommunications services. 

In the post-COVID era, the importance of Internet, service quality, and the stability of telecommunications networks for business productivity and global business continuity has been cemented.

In the latest SUTEL reports from June 2023 and December 2022, information is collected about the quality of fixed networks, as well as mobile telephony and Internet services. In particular, the performance of the networks and services of the following operators is collected:

  • Claro CR Telecomunicaciones S.A.
  • Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (Kölbi)
  • Liberty S.A. (incl. Cabletica and Telefónica Movistar)
  • Millicom Cable de Costa Rica S.A. (Tigo)
  • Telecable S.A.

The measurement results confirm the efforts of telecommunications operators in the continuous improvement of the country's telecommunications networks. 

The collected information serves to assess the strengths and weaknesses of telecommunications services and providers and is useful for the end user. The main goal is to empower telecommunications customers with information when choosing a service and, at the same time, encourage operators to continue improving the quality of service in the country.     
 

Ilustración 1. Visión general del proyecto de medición regulatoria en Costa Rica con la SUTEL

Illustration 1. Overview of the regulatory measurement project in Costa Rica with SUTEL

MedUX solutions for regulators help maintain high standards of experience and service quality. They provide transparent tools and information to empower consumers. That's why we are proud to contribute to the improvement of quality in Costa Rica and to be part of the results of these measurements carried out by SUTEL with MedUX measurement robots.

In this first article of the series, we will focus on the report about the quality of fixed Internet access services in Costa Rica, specifically on the measurement methodology, the main results in 2022, the non-compliance, and the tools available to end users. 

This article is part of a monographic series analyzing the latest quality reports for fixed and mobile services by SUTEL in Costa Rica. Also, take a look at the second article in the series: Pura Vida! Who has the best network quality and experience in Costa Rica (II). Mobile Services (coming soon)

Methodology for the National Evaluation of Fixed Internet Service in Costa Rica

SUTEL of Costa Rica has published the results of the National Evaluation of Fixed Internet Service 2022, which includes information about the quality of service offered by the main operators in the country: Kölbi, Liberty, Telecable, and Tigo.

In the latest comprehensive report from SUTEL for fixed services recently published, it details the most relevant aspects of the key performance indicators used in the evaluation of service quality, as well as results disaggregated by provinces.

The millions of collected samples ensure national representativeness, in compliance with the minimum quantity established in the regulation, the "Resolution on measurement methodologies applicable to the provision and quality of services" (RCS-019-2018)     
 

Ilustración 2. Visión general del proyecto de medición regulatoria para servicios fijos en Costa Rica con la SUTEL

Illustration 2. Overview of the regulatory measurement project for fixed services in Costa Rica with SUTEL

The Costa Rican regulator has obtained the 2022 results of the national evaluation of quality in fixed Internet access services based on more than 2 million tests conducted by MedUX HOME measurement robots, distributed in households across all provinces of the country. The regulatory measurement exercise takes place between January 1st and December 31st, 2022.

The MedUX distributed probe system is responsible for executing measurements related to data transfer for fixed Internet services. It involves more than 200 devices placed according to SUTEL's requirements and can be relocated at the Superintendency's request. Remote and almost immediate monitoring and data extraction are possible.

The use of measurement probes is identified by the International Telecommunication Union (UIT) as one of the options for measurement methodologies to assess the quality of service as indicated in Recommendation UIT-T E.812 Amendment 1 (09/2020) Appendix III, and in Recommendation  ITU-T E.806 (06/2019).

For more detail on our methodologies for measuring real services in real environments to capture the true user experience, you can refer to the following Blog Post.

Main results on fixed service quality in 2022 in Costa Rica

The report presents an assessment of the state and performance of fixed networks in households based on key indicators to determine service quality: among others, the percentage of compliance with the internet line speed contracted by the user; and network response time or latency.

During 2022, relevant improvements are recorded in some parameters and provinces, especially compared to previous periods with higher incidences of COVID-19 and even with traffic increases as in 2020 in Costa Rica's fixed networks.

Download speed performance

The results for the 2022 period of the download speed performance indicator (downloading), demonstrated compliance with the regulatory threshold of 80% in its average value for the whole country, with national average results ordered and starting from the best: Liberty at 97.6%; Tigo at 92.2%; Telecable at 89.1%; and Kölbi at 88.2%.     
 

Ilustración 3. Desempeño de la velocidad de descarga promedio durante el año 2022 (cifras en porcentaje). Fuente: SUTEL, Dirección de Calidad, Costa Rica, 2022

Illustration 3. Average download speed performance during 2022 (percentages). Source: SUTEL, Quality Department, Costa Rica, 2022

Regarding the evolution of average download speed performance, it is notable that Kölbi maintains a trend of progressive improvement in its history from 2018 (79.4%) to 2022 (88.2%). Liberty, Telecable, and Tigo show an improvement compared to the previous year.     
 

Ilustración 4. Evolución del desempeño de la velocidad de descarga del 2018 al 2022 (cifras en porcentaje). Fuente: SUTEL, Dirección de Calidad, Costa Rica, 2022

Illustration 4. Evolution of download speed performance from 2018 to 2022 (percentages). Source: SUTEL, Quality Department, Costa Rica, 2022

While there are widespread improvements and compliance in national simple averages, deficiencies in download speed performance for each operator disaggregated by hour on average at the national level in 2022 can be identified.

According to the figures, Telecable obtains results below the regulatory threshold of 80% from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., reaching a minimum of 65.4% at 9:00 p.m. On the other hand, Kölbi falls below 80% at 8:00 p.m., at which point this indicator's performance is 78.5%.     

Ilustración 5. Desempeño de la velocidad de descarga por hora durante el año 2022 (cifras en porcentaje). Fuente: SUTEL, Dirección de Calidad, Costa Rica, 2022

Illustration 5. Download speed performance per hour during 2022 (percentages). Source: SUTEL, Quality Department, Costa Rica, 2022

Upload speed performance

The results for the 2022 period of the upload speed performance indicator, demonstrated compliance with the regulatory threshold of 80% in its average value for the whole country, with national average results ordered and starting from the best: Liberty at 98.7%; Telecable at 95.2%; Kölbi at 90.5%; and Tigo at 89.9%.     
 

Ilustración 6. Desempeño de la velocidad de carga promedio durante el año 2022 (cifras en porcentaje). Fuente: SUTEL, Dirección de Calidad, Costa Rica, 2022

Illustration 6. Average upload speed performance during 2022 (percentages). Source: SUTEL, Quality Department, Costa Rica, 2022

In the case of Liberty (98.7%) and Telecable (95.2%), they achieved high percentage results in 2022 that show an improvement compared to 2021 and are in fact the second-best results within the respective history of each of these two operators.     
 

Local latency

The results for the 2022 period of the local latency indicator, demonstrated compliance with the regulatory threshold of 50 ms in its average value for the whole country, with national average results ordered and starting from the best: Liberty at 13.9 ms; Kölbi at 15.7 ms; Tigo at 17.0 ms; and Telecable at 22.4 ms.

Local latency, which is the response time of networks measured in milliseconds (ms), from the moment the user makes a query in the network until receiving a response.     

 

Ilustración 7. Retardo local promedio durante el año 2022 (cifras en milisegundos). Fuente: SUTEL, Dirección de Calidad, Costa Rica, 2022

Illustration 7. Average local latency during 2022 (milliseconds). Source: SUTEL, Quality Department, Costa Rica, 2022

In the case of Kölbi and Tigo, the 2022 results remained practically unchanged from 2021, while for Liberty and Telecable, a significant improvement was evident in 2022 compared to 2021, with a reduction of 8.1 ms and 5.1 ms, respectively.     
 

International latency

The results for the 2022 period of the international latency indicator, demonstrated compliance with the recommended value of 150 ms in its average value for the whole country, with national average results ordered and starting from the best: Liberty at 54.8 ms; Kölbi at 62.5 ms; Tigo at 66.9 ms; and finally, Telecable at 76.9 ms.

International latency is evaluated against a measurement server located outside the national territory, in one of the world's major Internet exchange points (IXPs) in Miami, USA.     
 

Ilustración 8. Retardo internacional promedio durante el año 2022 (cifras en milisegundos). Fuente: SUTEL, Dirección de Calidad, Costa Rica, 2022
Illustration 8. Average international latency during 2022 (milliseconds). Source: SUTEL, Quality Department, Costa Rica, 2022

In this indicator, all operators showed better or very similar results to the previous year.

Were the quality parameters met in 2022 for fixed Internet services in Costa Rica?

For greater accuracy and evaluations of potential non-compliance, an analysis is required at the provincial level for each operator and indicator. Consult the SUTEL report for the evaluation of improvement areas for each operator per indicator.

In the report, SUTEL also analyzes in detail how the minimum quality thresholds are met in the seven provinces, 24 hours a day. The continuous monitoring and controlled conditions of the MedUX system allow determining whether operators are non-compliant at any time of the day from the perspective of real customers.

The minimum thresholds according to the key performance indicator are as follows:

  • 80% compliance with the download speed or downlink contracted by the operators
  • 80% compliance with the upload speed or uplink contracted by the operators
  • 50 ms local delay to a destination within national territory
  • 150 ms international delay to a destination outside the country

From the analysis of the 2022 results, new non-compliances are identified by the operators: Kölbi, in download speed performance; Telecable, in local latency and download speed performance; and Tigo, in upload speed performance. For the Liberty operator, no non-compliances were found in the evaluation conducted during 2022.

Below are summary tables of the results obtained by each operator, indicating in each case the hourly ranges in which non-compliance with regulatory thresholds is evident, for any of the country's provinces.

Tablas. Incumplimientos por operador, indicador, provincia y tramo horario. Fuente: SUTELTablas. Incumplimientos por operador, indicador, provincia y tramo horario. Fuente: SUTELTablas. Incumplimientos por operador, indicador, provincia y tramo horario. Fuente: SUTEL

Such non-compliances warrant correction by these operators through the implementation of Improvement Plans. The Improvement Plan is a document in which the actions that the operator will carry out to enhance the quality of services and mitigate the observed incidents are established, along with their respective implementation timelines.

Should deficiencies in service quality levels persist, the operator would be obligated to apply a Quality Adjustment Factor (QAF) to all users who lodge complaints related to the indicator or indicators for which deficiencies persist. If the deficiency extends for a period exceeding 1 calendar year, SUTEL may assess the application of the penalty regime of Law No. 8642.

By way of example, SUTEL observes that for certain scenarios, repeated non-compliances are maintained in consecutive periods of 2021 and 2022, rendering the improvement plans or their implementation ineffective. As a result of the foregoing:

  • The Kölbi operator must apply a discount of 10.6% on the service of the complaining user for whom service quality deficiencies are verified, 
  • and the Telecable operator a discount of 12.8% for the respective service being claimed, for which service quality deficiencies are also verified.

In both cases, the QAF must be maintained until it is demonstrated, by the operator or by Sutel, that the quality deficiencies have been rectified.

Quality of service tools for the end user

Aware of the importance of empowering users and providing them with access to relevant information, SUTEL has developed different tools to understand and evaluate the quality of telecommunications services in Costa Rica.

1.  SUTEL Quality Maps

The SUTEL Quality Map is an interactive platform that allows users to visualize the quality of Internet service and mobile coverage in different areas of the country.

Mapa de calidad de SUTEL
Illustration. SUTEL quality map, in the following link: https://mapas.sutel.go.cr/

2.   SUTEL Quality Viewer

The SUTEL Quality Viewer is another valuable tool that provides detailed information about the quality of fixed Internet service in different regions of Costa Rica. 

Ilustración. Visor de calidad de SUTEL, en el siguiente enlace: https://visorcalidad.sutel.go.cr/
Illustration. SUTEL quality viewer, in the following link: https://visorcalidad.sutel.go.cr/

3.    Fixed and Mobile Network Report

SUTEL regularly publishes detailed reports on the quality of fixed and mobile Internet services in the country. You can access the reports for fixed networks at the following link (Fixed Network Reports - Fixed Internet) and the reports for mobile networks at the following link (Mobile Network Reports - Cellphones).

About MedUX

MedUX offers innovative solutions for the telecommunications industry, particularly for regulators, to address the new challenges presented in the sector. Our goal is to drive service quality improvement and promote user empowerment while adhering to regulatory requirements.     
 

If you found the SUTEL study based on MedUX-collected information interesting and need more information about our solutions and services, contact us at hello@medux.com        
 

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