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The Electronic Communications Office of Iceland (ECOI) has selected Rohde & Schwarz mobile network testing to assess and benchmark the performance, coverage and capacity of the country’s three mobile network operators. The campaign is intended to ultimately improve the quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for the end users in Iceland, given the island’s challenging geography and climate. ECOI commissioned Rohde & Schwarz network analytics services to roll out a benchmarking campaign based on an internationally standardized, transparent process based on the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

The national regulatory authority Fjarskiptastofa (FST) – internationally known as the Electronic Communications Office of Iceland (ECOI) – commissioned Rohde & Schwarz to conduct a large-scale mobile network quality benchmarking campaign in Iceland. The mobile network testing experts from Rohde & Schwarz planned and implemented the benchmarking campaign as a service for ECOI. The collected data was processed using the Network Performance Score (NPS) 2.0. 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. Roughly 9 000 km were driven through big cities like Reykjavik, small towns and on remote roads around the entire island. The network quality within shopping malls was also assessed. Approximately 90 % of Iceland’s population was covered. 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. NPS version 2.0 applies more challenging thresholds and intricate weighting, especially for developed networks dominated by 5G technology, as is the case in Iceland.

The benchmark measurements confirmed that 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. All three networks have very good 5G coverage in cities and towns and excellent 4G coverage nationwide. Both voice and data services are reliable, but there is still room for improvement. Thanks to the NPS method applied in real drive tests, QoE issues especially along highways could be detected, which remain unnoticed with other test methods.

ECOI wants to spur the development of Iceland’s telecommunications networks and provide services for everyone, no matter where they live on the sparsely populated island. By fostering healthy competition among the three Icelandic network operators with benchmarking, the operators are encouraged to invest in the infrastructure that ultimately benefits end-users and businesses. Þorleifur Jónasson, Director Infrastructure Division at the Electronic Communications Office of Iceland, says: “ECOI believes that only a methodology deeply rooted in internationally recognized standards allows a fair and unbiased assessment of the mobile network quality. This is why we partnered with Rohde & Schwarz to provide us with their mobile network quality benchmarking services. Their ETSI defined Network Performance Score methodology convinced us.”

Maja Mitic, Director Network Analytics Services Mobile Network Testing at Rohde & Schwarz, says: “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.”

www.rohde-schwarz.com