State of Mobile Networks: Poland (September 2016)

When it comes to mobile data performance, Poland has a lot of choices to offer. Each of Poland's four mobile operators contended for the title of either fastest or most available 4G network, as measured by OpenSignal's tests. In our first State of Mobile Networks for Poland, we drew on more than 126 million data points collected between May and July to see how Poland's 3G and 4G networks compared.

Report Facts

126,571,336
Measurements
11,715
Test Devices
2016-05-01 - 2016-07-31
Sample Period
Poland
Report Location

Highlights

Orange and T-Mobile contest the speed crown

Multinational operators Orange and T-Mobile tied for first place in our 4G tests, both averaging download speeds in the 26 Mbps range. T-Mobile won OpenSignal's 3G speed award outright, but Orange received top honors for overall 3G/4G speed as our testers were able to connect to its fast LTE network slightly more often.

Play and Plus lead our availability tests

P4’s Play and Polkomtel's Plus fought a battle of their own over 4G availability. Both operators were able to provide an LTE signal to their respective customers more than 63% of time, according to our tests. While the two operators tied for first prize in 4G availability, Play took OpenSignal's award for 3G-or-better data availability on the strength of its HSPA networks.

Orange tops OpenSignal's latency rankings

Orange didn't just have the fastest overall speed in our tests; we also measured the quickest reaction times on Orange's 3G and 4G networks. We tested 4G latency at 38ms on Orange's LTE network and 3G latency of 76ms on its HSPA network.

Poland's operators are well matched

Though Orange took the most awards in this report, no single operator dominated the table. In fact, every one of Poland's four operators either won or shared top honors in at least one of the six metrics we tracked. In many of those categories, two or more operators closely contested the top spot.

Awards Table

Download Speed: 4G Download Speed: 3G Download Speed: Overall Latency: 4G Latency: 3G Availability: 4G Availability: 3G/4G

Orange

medal medal medal medal

Play

medal medal

Plus

medal

T-Mobile

medal medal

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Performance by Metric

Availability: 4G

This metric shows the proportion of time OpenSignal users have an LTE connection available to them on each operator’s network. It's a measure of how often users can access a 4G network rather than a measure of geographic or population coverage.

Availability: 3G/4G

This metric shows the proportion of time users on each network have a 3G or 4G (LTE) connection available to them.

Download Speed: 4G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: 3G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: Overall

This metric shows the average download speed experienced by OpenSignal users across all of an operator's 3G and 4G networks. Overall speed doesn't just factor in 3G and LTE speeds, but also the availability of each network technology. Operators with lower LTE availability tend to have lower overall speeds because their customers spend more time connected to slower 3G networks.

Latency: 4G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Latency: 3G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Analysis

Poland is among the dwindling number of European countries that still have four major mobile operators competing for the business of mobile consumers, and, according to OpenSignal's most recent data, those four operators seem to be fairly evenly matched. Instead of one or two operators dominating our mobile data performance and availability metrics, the winners were fairly evenly distributed with each individual operator excelling in one or two categories. Now that LTE has emerged as a significant mobile technology in Poland, Polish consumers find themselves with a lot to choose from in their 4G service providers.

In our first ever State of Mobile Networks report we drew on 126 million individual measurements collected over 90 days this summer to see how mobile data services in Poland stacked up. OpenSignal's 11,700 smartphone users in Poland tested speed, signal availability and latency on the 3G and 4G networks for all four of Poland's nationwide operators: Orange Polska, P4's Play, Polkomtel's Plus and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile. Let's start first with speed.

A duel over the fastest speeds

Though 4G speeds were generally good across all four operators in our tests, two networks stood out. Our users measured average LTE download speeds of 26.1 Mbps on Orange's network and 26.7 Mbps on T-Mobile's network — close enough to produce a statistical tie. Until recently both operators shared an LTE network via a joint infrastructure agreement, but after each won new 800 MHz and 2600 MHz licenses at auction, they have been aggressively plowing that new capacity into separate LTE systems. That network investment definitely seems to be paying dividends.

Plus managed a respectable 19.2 Mbps average in our results, but our tests found Play to be the slowest of the four with a measured download speed of 15.3 Mbps. Last month, Play unveiled a new 4G upgrade called LTE Ultra, that uses LTE-Advanced techniques to tie together the operator's multiple frequency bands. The upgrade essentially transformed a bunch of underpowered LTE channels into a single high-performance LTE connection, but the network went live after our test window closed on July 31. Expect it to have an impact on Play's 4G speeds in the future though, especially as P4 customers upgrade to newer devices that can support the full capabilities of the Ultra network.

While T-Mobile and Orange shared our 4G speed award, each operator stood out in one of our two other speed categories. Our users found the fastest 3G connections on T-Mobile's HSPA network, averaging 6.8 Mbps in their download tests. But Orange took our prize for best overall speed, which factors in the combined performance of operators' 3G and 4G networks. Because Orange users were able to connect to its LTE network slightly more often in our tests, they had access to faster 4G speeds a greater percentage of the time.

Orange distinguished itself in one additional way: network latency. Latency measures the time it takes for data to make a round trip from the phone through the network. Networks with lower latency generally have faster reaction times: web pages and video start loading faster and users see better performance from real-time communications apps. Orange won both OpenSignal's latency awards, with measured average 4G latency at 38 milliseconds and average 3G latency at 76ms.

A separate duel over availability

While Orange and T-Mobile battled it out for top speed honors, Play and Plus waged a war of their own over best network availability. Rather than measure geographical coverage, our availability metric tracks the proportion of time users have access to a particular network. Our 4G testers on Play were able to connect to its LTE network 63.8% of the time and Plus's 4G customers were able to see an LTE signal 64.9% of the time, resulting in a statistical draw. Both operators handily beat Orange and T-Mobile, which had 4G availability metrics of 56.1% and 54.5% respectively.

When we factored in 3G connectivity though, Play emerged as the clear overall availability winner for mobile data. Its customers were able to latch onto a 3G-or-better signal an impressive 92.8% of the time. Play's superior 3G/4G availability might be explained by its history. P4 started out as a 3G-only operator, initially relying on roaming agreements for 2G services.

Though Play was the only operator to break the 90% threshold, our testers on the other three operators' networks certainly weren't lacking for data connections. All scored 86% or higher in our 3G/4G availability tests. In fact, the widespread availability of 3G HSPA connections, coupled with generally fast 3G speeds, led to fairly consistent data performance across all operators. Overall average data speeds ranged from 9.9 Mbps to 14.2 Mbps.

In OpenSignal's recent Global State of Mobile Networks report, we found that Poland with an average data connection of 11.9 Mbps sat among the middle of the 95 countries we sampled in speed. Polish operators' 4G performance still can't match the amped up LTE-Advanced technologies operators in Northern Europe and East Asia have deployed. But Poland pairs up well with many western European countries in both 3G and 4G availability. What's more, Poland has the potential to gain more ground soon.

Nearly five years after LTE's debut in the country, Poland is now in the second stage of its 4G evolution. Operators have been using newly acquired spectrum to add capacity to their LTE networks, they're looking to use old 2G and 3G airwaves for new 4G services, and many of them have embarked down the LTE-Advanced evolutionary path. That means the test results we see in a year's time could be quite different from those we saw this summer.

Our Methodology

OpenSignal data is collected from consumer smartphones and recorded under conditions of normal usage. As opposed to drive-test data, which attempts to simulate what a user might experience by using the same devices to measure network performance in a small number of locations, we take our measurements from millions of smartphones owned by regular people who have downloaded OpenSignal’s apps.

Those measurements are taken wherever users happen to be, whether indoors or out, in a city or in the countryside, representing a mobile data service the way users experience it. For more information on how we collect and analyze our data see our methodology page.

For this particular report, 126,571,336 datapoints were collected from 11,715 users during the period: 2016-05-01 - 2016-07-31.

All data has been collected from users of the OpenSignal mobile app for Android or iOS.

For every metric we've calculated statistical confidence intervals and plotted them on all of the graphs. When confidence intervals overlap for a certain metric, our measured results are too close to declare a winner in a particular category. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

©2016 OpenSignal, Inc. All rights reserved.

OpenSignal, Inc retains ownership of this report including all intellectual property rights, data, content, graphs & analysis. Reports produced by OpenSignal, Inc may not be quoted, reproduced, distributed, published for any commercial purpose (including use in advertisements or other promotional content) without prior written consent.

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