Remote work, AR/VR, home entertainment, cloud services… Accelerated by the global pandemic, citizens’ need to access the best digital experience professionally and personally is encapsulated by 5G’s promises, both for the end-user and industries alike. But for its results to be as convincing as what has been announced by medias and operators alike, its deployments need to be completed.

By the end of 2020, French telecommunication regulator ARCEP (Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des Postes – French telecommunication regulator) attributed 5G frequencies to the four operators: Orange, Bouygues, SFR and Free. Different choices in low or high frequencies mirrored the disparity of strategies pushed by the operators, based on different technological options. Almost six months after its deployments started, what can be said about 5G in France?

Measuring the quality of internet mobile services

To answer the question, MOZARK’s French teams have launched a national field measurement campaign to clarify the level of service quality offered to customers who have subscribed to 5G offers, and to objectify 5G’s first differences with 4G technology.

First study to measure the quality of mobile connections provided by 5G in nine French agglomeration areas (Lens, Montpellier, Marseilles, Toulouse, Clermont-Ferrand, Nice, Paris, Ile-de-France and Strasbourg) it was mainly focused on a protocol testing the following six main services:

  • downstream data transfer speed (download),
  • upstream data transfer (upload),
  • file transfer in the downstream direction (download),
  • file transfer in the upward direction (upload),
  • web browsing and video streaming.

Tests were performed in “real life situations” – with a subscription to a 4G/5G service (there is no 5G-only package on the market): when the 5G network is available the smartphone connects to it and otherwise uses 4G – in static outdoor condition (i.e. like a pedestrian at a standstill). For each operator, and in the same measurement point, a test scenario is executed according to two configurations reflecting 4G and a 5G customer profiles.

Results: does 5G still need to prove itself?

Also analyzed by Le Figaro in an article dedicated to the topic, our barometer firstly showed that “in terms of download speed, Orange is widening the gap with its rivals, Bouygues Telecom and SFR are neck and neck, while Free is falling behind”, with an average speed for a 5G connection of 146 Megabits per second (Mbps), against 80 Mbps for SFR, 78 Mbps for Bouygues Telecom and 28 Mbps for Free.

Best average downstream speeds by city:

Second observation: in the current state of deployments, 5G subscriptions do not always globally display the performances locally achieved. This finding was mirrored in a pole tweet we made last week, asking our French 5G subscribing followers what they thought about their connection so far: most of the 210 persons who answered were either disappointed by its performances, or did not hook it long enough to see a difference with 4G.

Nevertheless, these results are far from being final and are encouraging, considering maximum downstream speed for instance.

Maximum downstream speeds by city:

As for many regions worldwide, 5G deployments are at their first phases in France and operators have been eager to move forward quickly and efficiently: their strategies will probably pay off and show positive outcomes in the long run. 5G has the advantage to allow end-customer and industrial use cases alike by design, which makes its benefits and disparities in its quality of service easily measurable as soon as deployments will really be done. MOZARK’s study is a first objectivation of average service levels, objectivation that has probably already evolved since the time we made our tests. See you in three months to analyze how the situation changed!

Read our whole 5G barometer here

Written By

Julie Kemtchuaing