25 February 2003
For the sixth consecutive year, and in cooperation with operators and consumer and user associations, Autorité de régulation des télécommunications (ART) held a evaluation survey of service quality for mobile telephone networks in metropolitan France, as it is perceived during daily use by the customers of the three operators.
This survey, conducted by the Thales Idatys firm, was held in cities and on certain rail lines, over six weeks, between mid October and late November 2002. Close to 26,000 calls were made and over 1,000 SMS were sent, under normal conditions of mobile telephone use.
- Major findings of this year’s survey
The results of the survey highlight a number of points:
- This year’s survey shows overall progress for most indicators, highlighting the improvements made by the three operators in the quality of their networks. Following the relative stabilisation of the results seen in 2001 on a basis of a strong growth in mobile penetration rate, the rate of successful calls in cities, maintained for two minutes, improved significantly in 2002, by 2 to 3%, to around 98%, that is a very good result.
- The disparities seen last year in the share of calls with perfect sound quality, depending on the location, time slot and type of use, have decreased. This shows better control of network loads by operators. Similarly, in cities with populations of over 400,000, the significant differences seen in the past two years between peak hours and non-peak hours for failure and cut-off rates has declined significantly.
- The measurements taken for SMS show excellent reliability for the second year in a row, with 98% of messages received within 30 seconds. These measurements open the way for future evaluations of the quality of other data services (WAP, MMS, etc) using GSM, GPRS or UMTS technologies.
- Finally, the results of measurements in suburban trains and TGV high-speed lines improved over 2001. Still, the quality of service remains significantly lower than that found in cities.
- Cities with populations of 20,000 to 50,000
This year, measurements were taken on an experimental basis in five cities with population of between 20,000 and 50,000 (Berck, Cavaillon, Dinan, Mont-de-Marsan and Pontarlier) under the same conditions as those taken in larger cities.
The sample of cities tested is too small to give publishable results representative of all cities with 20,000 to 50,000 inhabitants. Still, we can give an indication of the quality of service in the five cities tested: it is similar to that measured in larger cities, except for the share of perfect sound quality which appears significantly lower.
- Quality of service and coverage
ART reiterates that the service quality survey does not deal with the coverage of mobile networks. From a methodology point of view, quality is measured only in those areas covered by all three operators. Improved coverage is one of the priorities of authorities, in accordance with the commitments taken by the government to the regional development inter-departmental committee (CIADT) in December, in partnership with the three operators.