Rohde & Schwarz survey Icelandic mobile network

Testing company Rohde & Schwarz has conducted a large-scale benchmarking campaign of Iceland’s mobile network.

The benchmarking campaign had to cope with Iceland's challenging geography and climate. Picture: Rohde & Schwarz

Rohde & Schwarz said it had been selected by the Electronic Communications Office of Iceland (ECOI) to assess and benchmark the performance, coverage and capacity of the country's three mobile network operators.

The campaign was intended to improve the quality of service for end users in a country with a challenging geography and climate.

The benchmarking campaign which took place last Fall was based on an internationally standardized, transparent process based on the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), Rohde & Schwarz said.

The mobile network testing experts from Rohde & Schwarz planned and implemented the benchmarking campaign with the collected data processed using the Network Performance Score (NPS) 2.0.

According to Rohde & Schwarz, the NPS is a fully transparent test methodology in line with ETSI TR 103 559 that compares standardized KPIs for mobile networks using active drive and walk tests.

ECOI is one of the first regulatory authorities in Europe to rely on the NPS for such a large-scale network benchmarking campaign. The NPS is based on a methodology described by the European standardization organization ETSI in ETSI TR 103 559.

It provides an industry-proven standard and internationally comparable quality of service and user experience assessments for mobile networks.

The campaign was conducted over five weeks in September and October 2023, with the team of experts covering roughly 9,000 km of Iceland, including big cities like Reykjavik, small towns and on remote roads around the entire island.

Approximately 90 percent of the country’s population was covered by the tests which also including assessment of network quality within shopping malls.

The campaign included over 17,000 calls and the evaluation of over 160,000 data tests, including application level tests for 90-second voice calls, eGaming applications, online meetings and video chats to assess the typical experience for current subscribers.

Through the benchmarking process all three mobile networks in Iceland; Síminn, Nova and Vodafone scored over 700 points (out of 1000), making them on par with other mobile networks in Europe.

According to Rohde & Schwarz, all three networks have very good 5G coverage in cities and towns and excellent 4G coverage nationwide, but there is still room for improvement in the reliability of voice and data services.

Maja Mitic, director network analytics services mobile network testing at Rohde & Schwarz, said: “Iceland has vast open landscapes and a rough climate that can make it challenging for operators to provide the best possible network coverage, especially with 5G in the game. ECOI is among the first regulatory authorities in Europe to trust Rohde & Schwarz with such a transparent and unbiased large-scale benchmarking campaign to assess a country’s network quality and user experience. It’s a crucial step to ensure further investment, innovation and consumer protection through enhanced competition among Icelandic network operators.”