Markus Mandau and Wolfgang Pauler
The former state-owned company A1 is overthrown by its competitor Magenta and ranks second this year. The distance to the test winner is extremely small, but second place is justified: A1 has the best network on the trains, but has to beat itself in the other sub-ratings give – even with 5G.
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In recent years, the market leader A1 and the Telekom subsidiary Magenta have been in a close race for the best mobile network in Austria. So far, A1 has almost always had the better end, but not this year. A1 still offers the fastest network via LTE, but that alone is not enough. Competitor Magenta trumps A1 with the better 5G network and is also ahead when it comes to making calls and surfing. In almost all disciplines, the gap from A1 to Magenta is only razor-thin, and it can quickly turn into a lead again next year. A1 certainly has the potential to do so.
Overall, A1 does very well with a school grade of 1.3. The market leader loses its lead in mobile surfing and has to admit defeat in this discipline, just a little behind Magenta. A1 does not fool anyone when it comes to download speed. In terms of reliability, the A1 often ranks behind Magenta, albeit at a very high level. The comparison with the measurements from last year underlines this: A1 can only improve slightly in the mobile Internet tests. On the other hand, the network operator has improved when making calls, but does not catch up with Magenta in this discipline, which for its part is still growing.
Traveling by train: In long-distance trains, A1 just beat Magenta. All Austrian networks achieve a good level.
Advances in long-distance trains
A1 only maintains its lead in long-distance trains. Compared to the measurements from last year, A1 and magenta perform significantly better when making calls, with A1 taking the lead. The improvement of three is moderate in comparison. Nevertheless, telephoning on the trains remains a problematic matter, and it is anything but a matter of course that a conversation does not end in the middle. Only A1 has a low dropout rate of two percent. Magenta comes to 4.6 percent and three to 5.4 percent. The proportion of phone calls with very poor voice quality is quite high. For A1 it is 4.7 percent. The network operator is only just ahead of Magenta with 4.9 percent. Three brings up the rear with 5.2 percent. The values for WhatsApp calls are even worse in terms of the dropout rate. Conversations on Austrian trains are therefore best conducted in the classic way as a telephone call. A call over the Internet is often canceled involuntarily.
We certify the network operators for the telephony in the long-distance trains a satisfactory quality. As far as data connections to the Internet are concerned, they do their job a lot better. Here, at least in the networks of A1 and Magenta, many uploads and downloads went through without any problems. The odds are between 97.5 and 98.8 percent. Three lags behind and only achieves a rate of almost 95 percent for uploads. The access to the YouTube test live stream is on a similar level. The download speeds are very good even under difficult conditions. The worst ten percent of all downloads on trains start in the A1 network from a threshold of 11.9 Mbit/s. The market leader is not ahead in terms of speed here, because Magenta achieves 13.5 MBit/s. With 10.5 MBit/s, three almost reaches the level of the competition. We rate the access to the Internet with A1 and Magenta as very good on long-distance trains – Magenta performs slightly better. Three is just behind and receives a "Good" with an asterisk.
Fast downloads: A1 is way ahead when it comes to transfer speeds. This also applies if the network conditions are not so good.
A1 has the fastest network, but not for 5G
In terms of download speed, A1 remains the measure of all things this year, and its competitor Magenta cannot keep up. The network of the test winner is sometimes only at the level of three. This is shown by the measurements that we carried out on motorways and country roads. On average, the A1 network brings users to the Internet in rural areas as quickly as in the cities – at just under 142 Mbit/s. Drei's network allows a download speed of 95 Mbit/s. Magenta comes in behind with 83 MBit/s. That doesn't change when you look at the pace in poor conditions either. The worst ten percent of all measurements start in the A1 network at 40 Mbit/s. Three is in second place with just under 30 MBit/s and Magenta comes in at just over 22 MBit/s. In cities, A1 retains its top spot in download average at over 141 Mbps, but Magenta looks much better here at 107.5 Mbps, overtaking Drei, which scores just under 97 Mbps. The fast downloads in the A1 network are all the more impressive since, according to our measurements, the network operator does not use band 1 at 2,100 MHz for LTE. A1 still has a lot of potential here.
A1 achieves the highest download average in the LTE network, but this does not apply to 5G. Both network operators are almost equal with a download average of over 415 MBit/s in the cities. Last year, Magenta was still well behind A1. We measure the performance of the 5G network on the N78 band around 3.6 GHz, because only here do the network operators have enough spectrum to offer speeds that go far beyond LTE. Magenta bought 110 MHz here, A1 and three 100 MHz each. For comparison: on the LTE band 3 at 1,800 MHz, the network operators have between 35 and 20 MHz.
Thanks to DSS, A1 has a 5G availability of 91.7 percent in the cities, but only a small part is provided via DSS. The N78 tape makes up the lion's share with a total of 81.6 percent. For magenta, the numbers look similar at 88.5 and 78.8 percent, respectively. Drei uses almost no DSS and has a rate of over 71 percent. Outside of the cities, A1 leads in terms of 5G availability overall, but is well behind Magenta in terms of the rate of 5G on band N78 and has to catch up here. Both network operators were still on par here last year.