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Europe’s cellular networks viable alternatives to broadband, LEO satellites

Research finds that 5G download speeds of nearly 1Gbps were found in four out of the top five cities tested, and were equal to that of satellite and fixed networks

Research from Cellsmart has revealed that European cellular networks have emerged as a viable alternative to broadband and low orbit satellites (LEO) when connecting the last mile.

The study from the cellular intelligence division of SmartCIC collected data from 13,170 network speed tests conducted in 29 countries in Europe and 12,781 unique locations between 6 and 14 April 2023.

The survey was designed to provide a snapshot of actual performance across cellular technologies across the globe. Cellsmart used the data it collects in its planning, network selection and service development and monitoring for fixed wireless enterprise customers.

The topline test results found by Cellsmart noted that cellular networks across Europe are delivering speeds that equal or exceed what is available on broadband or LEO satellites.

Moreover, the test showed 5G upload and download speeds in both metro and remote areas are offering the flexibility of cellular combined with enterprise-grade network performance, which is “ideal” for supporting fixed wireless access (FWA) use cases across Europe, according to Cellsmart.

In terms of territories and individual locations, the research showed Norway leading Europe with maximum 5G download speeds indoors of 1.12 Gbps, while Spain had the top results for maximum 5G download speeds outdoors with 1.11 Gbps.

Revealing the leading countries for maximum outdoor download speeds, Spain’s 1114.00 Mbps and Germany’s 1035.00 Mbps was followed by Austria (921.10 Mbps), France (803.96 Mbps) and Norway (789.00 Mbps). By contrast, Norwegian networks led for indoor maximum speeds with 1124.0 Mbps followed by Spain (1075.00 Mbps), Germany (929.10 Mbps), France (898.00 Mbps) and Great Britain (602.00 Mbps).

Norway again led with the leading city for 5G download speeds in Europe with capital city Oslo offering speeds of 1.12 Gbps. Cerdanyola del Vallès and Bilbao in Spain took second and third spots with speeds of 1.11 Gbps and 1.07 Gbps respectively. Germany’s Munich (1.03 Gbps) ranked fourth and Austria’s Vienna (921.1) in fifth. As a result, FWA is proven to be helping enterprise and service providers to be more agile and able to monetise investments in SDWAN overlay services.

From the perspective of operators, Telemoval in Portugal continued to top the rankings with 545.38 Mbps average download speeds maintaining its download position since the cellsmart Global Cellular Performance Survey in Q1 2023. It had 131% greater average speed than tenth placed Orange FR NRNSA in Germany, showing how variable performance levels can be. Spain’s Webbing ranked second for download speeds with an average of 472.20 Mbps. The test results show the leading average upload speeds are heavily saturated by Spain with Webbing, Finetworks and Orange France taking the top three spots with speeds of 113.25, 84.58 and 65.08 respectively.

“Europe is ready for fixed wireless access. Our test results show that 5G is beginning to mature into a justifiable investment that is ready to serve as an alternative to wired broadband and LEO’s in multiple countries throughout Europe,” said Toby Forman, CEO at SmartCIC.

“With performance rates that rival those of broadband and LEO, cellular should be considered when connecting enterprise locations. It’s a viable option “It’s crucial to remember that these figures aren’t estimates or taken from a lab. They are real, on-the-ground 5G performance levels, straight from the field.”

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