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Pura Vida! Who has the best quality and Network Experience in Costa Rica? (II) Mobile Services

Published on August 31, 2023
Pura_vida_Costa_Rica

This article is part of a monographic series analyzing the latest reports on the quality of fixed and mobile services in Costa Rica by SUTEL. Take a look at the first article in the series: "Pura Vida! Who Has the Best Quality and Network Experience in Costa Rica (I).  

In this second article on quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) in Costa Rica, we will focus on the report published about mobile internet access services in Costa Rica. Specifically, we will review the measurement methodology, key results, compliance issues, and tools available to end-users.

In the latest SUTEL report as of December 2022, information is provided regarding the quality of mobile telephony and internet services. It analyzes the performance of networks and services from the following mobile operators:

  • Claro CR Telecomunicaciones S.A. (Claro)
  • Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (Kölbi)
  • Liberty S.A. (Liberty, including Telefónica Movistar)"

The gathered information serves to assess the strengths and weaknesses of telecommunication services and providers, proving valuable for end-users. The primary goal is to empower telecommunications customers with informed choices when selecting a service. Simultaneously, it encourages operators to continuously enhance the service quality in the country.

MedUX's solutions for regulators are designed to maintain high standards of quality of experience and service quality. They provide transparent tools and information to empower consumers. This is why we take pride in contributing to the enhancement of quality in Costa Rica and being a part of the results of these measurements conducted by SUTEL using MedUX measurement robots.

Methodology for the National Evaluation of Mobile Internet Service in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica's SUTEL has published the results of the National Evaluation of mobile internet service for 2021, which assesses the quality of service offered by the country's major operators: Claro, Kölbi, and Liberty.

In the complete SUTEL report for fixed services, the most relevant aspects of key performance indicators used in evaluating service quality are described in detail, along with results disaggregated by provinces.

The millions of samples collected ensure nationwide representativeness, in compliance with the minimum quantity stipulated in the regulation: (RCS-019-2018).

Ilustración 4.. Visión general del proyecto de medición regulatoria para servicios móviles en Costa Rica con la SUTEL

Illustration 1: provides an overview of the regulatory measurement project for mobile services in Costa Rica with SUTEL.   

The Costa Rican regulator has obtained the 2021 results of the national evaluation of mobile internet service quality, based on more than 68 million tests and 109 million coverage samples conducted by MedUX MOBILE measurement robots distributed in vehicles that traveled throughout the national territory throughout 2021.

The use of measurement probes is recognized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as one of the measurement methodologies to assess service quality, in accordance with ITU-T Recommendation E.806 (06/2019) titled "Measurement Campaigns, Monitoring Systems, and Sampling Methodologies for Monitoring Quality of Service in Mobile Networks."

For more details on our methodologies for measuring real services in real environments to capture the true user experience, you can refer to the following blog post.

Key Results on Mobile Service Quality in 2021, Costa Rica:

The report presents an assessment of the state and performance of mobile networks based on key indicators to determine coverage, the quality of voice services and the quality of data services. Among others, it is collected:

• Mobile service coverage area (coverage precision and signal intensity),   
• Percentage of unsuccessful calls (accessibility),   
• Percentage of dropped calls (retainability),   
• Voice quality in telephone services (Mean Opinion Score, MOS),   
• Call setup time (wait time),   
• Relationship between measured data transfer speed and provisioned speed (speed performance), and   
• Network response time or delay (also known as latency).

The Costa Rican regulator has conducted millions of tests from vehicles performing "drive test" routes, simultaneously collecting quality conditions offered by the 2G, 3G, and 4G networks of the three mobile phone and mobile internet network operators: Claro, Kölbi, and Liberty.

Since 2019, there have been varying developments in the indicators based on parameters and provinces. One aspect to consider is the periods of increased COVID-19 impact and traffic surges on Costa Rican networks.

The results for each indicator are broken down for each of the districts in the Administrative Territorial Division of Costa Rica. However, in the report, the comparison is made for the 7 provinces, along with showing their evolution between the years 2019 and 2021 for the three operators. Below, we highlight some of the measured indicators and their results.

Mobile Service Coverage (2G, 3G, and 4G)

This indicator checks the signal strength obtained by comparing it with what the operators indicate for each type of coverage they report and offer on their websites. For 3G, it is possible to extract that the operators Kölbi and Liberty meet the regulatory threshold of 90% in the 2021 period.  

Precisión de cobertura para la red 3G 2021, porcentaje de muestras que cumplen con el área de cobertura

Illustration 2: Compliance with 3G Network Coverage (coverage precision) in 2021 (figures in percentages)

For 4G technology in the year 2021, it can be extracted that for the 2021 period, the Liberty operator meets the regulatory threshold of 90%.

Precisión de cobertura para la red 4G 2021, porcentaje de muestras que cumplen con el área de cobertura

Illustration 3: Compliance with 4G Network Coverage (coverage precision) in 2021 (figures in percentages)

Claro does not meet the coverage thresholds in 3G and 4G, but it does meet the thresholds in 2G in all seven provinces.

Ilustración 1.. Cumplimiento del Área de Cobertura (precisión de cobertura) de la red 2G por provincia, 2021 (cifras en porcentajes)

Illustration 4: Compliance with 2G Network Coverage (coverage precision) by province in 2021 (figures in percentages)   
 

The threshold value is different for each technology, and its dBm value corresponds to what is indicated in the last row of the following table (the row corresponding to the red color scale).

Ilustración 1.. Umbrales de cumplimiento y colores de escala para las tecnologías 2G, 3G y 4G

Illustration 5: Compliance Thresholds and Color Scales for 2G, 3G, and 4G Technologies

Percentage of Unsuccessful Calls (3G)

This shows the percentage of calls that fail to establish a connection when initiating a call on the operator's 3G network. Results are better the lower the percentage, allowing for an evaluation of service accessibility.

It can be deduced that according to the national average, all three operators meet the regulatory threshold of 3% during the year 2021, just like in the 2G technology.   
 

Porcentaje de llamadas no exitosas en la red 3G 2021

Illustration 6: Percentage of Unsuccessful Calls on the 3G Network in 2021

Dropped Calls (3G)

The "dropped calls" indicator shows the percentage of ongoing calls that lose connection due to issues in the operator's 3G network. Results are better the lower the percentage, allowing for an evaluation of service retainability.

It can be inferred from the following graph that Claro and Liberty operators meet the regulatory threshold set by the regulator, which is 2%. However, all three operators fail to meet the 2% regulatory threshold in 2G.   
 

Ilustración 1.. Porcentaje llamadas interrumpidas en la red 3G, para el año 2021

Illustration 7: Percentage of Dropped Calls on the 3G Network for the year 2021   
 

Average Download Speed (3G)

The results obtained from the percentage of average download speed performance compared to the provisioned speed for 3G technology show that, on average across the country, all three operators exceed the regulatory threshold of 60% applicable for the year 2021.

Relación entre la velocidad de descarga y la velocidad media en la red 3G, 2021

Illustration 8: Relationship between download speed and average speed on the 3G network in 2021

Download speeds vary significantly by province, canton, or district. For all three operators, the majority of districts in the country for 3G fall within the speed range of 3 Mbps to 5 Mbps, followed in second place by the lower range of 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps.   
 

Ilustración 1. Distribución de la cantidad de distritos por rangos de velocidades de descarga en la red 3G, para el año 2021

Illustration 9: Distribution of the number of districts by download speed ranges on the 3G network for the year 2021

Next, the results obtained from the percentage of download speed performance compared to the average speed in 2021 for 4G technology are presented. It can be inferred from this that, in terms of average results across the country, Liberty is the operator that complies with a result of 76.3%.   
 

Ilustración 1. Relación entre la velocidad de descarga y la velocidad promedio en la red 4G, 2021

Illustration 10: Relationship between download speed and average speed on the 4G network in 2021

While Liberty would have the best compliance in 4G with respect to the average speed measured in 2021, it also has the lowest download speeds in the entire country, about half of the other two operators. In 2021, Kölbi had the highest speed at 25.5Mbps, followed by Claro with 22.8Mbps, and Liberty in third place with 11.6Mbps. All three operators have average speeds lower than those available in 2019.

ilustración 11

Illustration 11: Relationship between download speed and average speed on the annual 4G network

One point to highlight is that in 2021, the impact on the configuration of commercial mobile internet access plans has become evident. These plans have shifted from offering users a specific speed to being based more on data consumption than on connection speed. For the purposes of the report analysis, the value used for comparison, instead of the provisioned speed, is the average speed obtained from field measurements during 2021.

Next, a comparison is included between the measured speed and the provisioned speed, taking into account the reference speed set by the operators in these plans. Differences of up to twice what the operator reported are observed.   
 

Ilustración 1. Comparación de la velocidad promedio medida en 2021 y la velocidad reportada por el operador

Illustration 12: Comparison of the average speed measured in 2021 and the speed reported by the operator

Average Upload Speed (3G and 4G)

For the average upload speed performance indicator compared to the provisioned speed for 4G technology, it can be inferred that the operators Claro, Kölbi, and Liberty exceed the regulatory threshold of 60% applicable for 2021. For 3G technology, all three operators exceed the established threshold.   
 

Ilustración 1. Relación entre la velocidad de envío y la velocidad promedio en la red 4G, 2021

Illustration 13: Relationship between upload speed and average speed on the 4G network in 2021

While Liberty would have the best compliance in 4G regarding the average speed measured in 2021, it also has the lowest 4G upload speeds in the country. Kölbi had the highest speed at 13.2 Mbps, followed by Claro with 12.6 Mbps, and Liberty in third place with 10.8 Mbps. All three operators have average speeds lower (or very similar) to those in 2019

Ilustración 1. Relación entre la velocidad de envío y la velocidad promedio en la red 4G, 2021

Illustration 14: Relationship between upload speed and average speed on the 4G network in 2021

In the latest comprehensive report by SUTEL on mobile services, the most relevant aspects of key performance indicators used in the evaluation of service quality are described in detail, as well as the results broken down by provinces.

Were the quality parameters for mobile internet services in Costa Rica met in 2021?

The SUTEL report also analyzes in detail how the minimum quality thresholds are met. If the results of the service quality studies fall below the compliance thresholds, SUTEL may request that operators/providers submit an Improvement Plan with an implementation period not exceeding four quarters. The Improvement Plan must have a duly established start and end date.

Based on the results included in the previous section of this report, the following tables show the indicators in which non-compliance was detected in 2021, by operator and technology.

 

INDICADORES SUTELINDICADORES SUTELINDICADORES SUTEL


Due to the previous non-compliances by these operators, an improvement plan will be issued. The Improvement Plan is a document that outlines the actions the operator will take to enhance the quality of services and address observed issues, as well as their respective implementation timelines.   
 

Quality of Service Tools for End Users

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

1.   SUTEL's Quality Maps

SUTEL's Quality Maps 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, available at 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, at the following link: https://visorcalidad.sutel.go.cr/

3.    Fixed and Mobile Networks Report

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

About MedUX   
 

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

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

 

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