Paris, 15 February 2002
IFor the fifth year in a row, in cooperation with operators and consumers and users associations, Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) conducted survey evaluating the quality of service for mobile telephone networks in metropolitan France, as seen on a daily basis by the clients of the three operators.
This evaluation is a legislative requirement intended to verify that the operators meet the objectives set in their license. It also aims to provide the market and consumers with a perception of quality for conditions of use which are close to everyday use.
This survey was conducted by Thales Idatys over a six week period, between mid October and late November 2001. Over 26,000 telephone calls were made and 2,800 SMS messages sent, under normal mobile telephone conditions of use.
· Coverage and service quality
As announced last year, ART conducted two types of survey for the first time in 2001, in order to better evaluate two distinct but complementary issues of mobile telephony :
- service quality, which covers service availability, call maintenance and sound quality
- coverage, that is, the possibility of making an intelligible call without any specific quality requirements
Thus, ART published on 6 July and 13 December 2001 the results of two "coverage" surveys for low-density areas in France. The current survey focuses on an evaluation of quality of service in more densely populated areas and frequently travelled rail lines.
· Major developments since the 2000 survey
The survey conducted in 2001 differ on several points with respect to the 2000 survey:
- the introduction, for the first time, of measurements for data services used by many consumers on a regular basis. These SMS measurements allow us to evaluate the quality of short messages, and in particular, reception time and integrity. This approach will be developed in future surveys.
- a measurement of the change, hour by hour, in service quality in major cities. With ten one-hour periods (from noon to 10PM) compared with six in 2000 (noon to 2PM and 5PM to 9PM), this year's survey lets us better understand variations in service quality throughout the day.
- the renewal of measurements on TGV lines, which were not done last year. Tests on board suburban trains were held for the third year in a row.
· Service quality within cities remains highly satisfactory given strong market growth
We can draw several conclusions in view of the survey results:
- In cities, the rate of successful calls maintained for two minutes tends to stabilise overall above 95% which is a good result, given the strong growth in the number of mobile telephony service clients (25% in 2001).
- The percentage of calls with perfect sound quality varies greatly depending on the geographic location, time of day and type of use.
- In particular, in cities with over 400,000 inhabitants, service quality may vary depending on the network load, as was also seen last year. Thus, in the twelve largest French cities, the failure and cut-off rate can double between peak and low times, which are not the same for all three operators. Still, the impact for users remains relatively low.
- Measurements for SMS show very good service reliability, with all messages sent and accepted by the network received without error within a few minutes. These innovative measurements open the way for the future evaluation of the quality of other data services (WAP, MMS, etc.) for GSM and GPRS technologies.
- Finally, the results of measurements on TGV high-speed trains are significantly better than those of 1999, reflecting the efforts made by operators, although major progress needs to be done both here and in suburban trains.
Given these results, ART calls on operators to continue their efforts in order to offer users the best possible service, as mobile telephony subscriber numbers continue to grow, and with the penetration rate now at over 61% of the French population.
NB: The complete study is available for consultation on line on ART's Web site: