Which provider has the best mobile network in 2021?​

In 2020, BIPT, in collaboration with Commsquare, conducted a large-scale study into the coverage of the mobile networks in Belgium. For 250 hours, two cars drove through Belgium with numerous mobile phones mounted on the roof. In this way the results are representative with the indoor mobile coverage (when someone is standing at a window indoors).

The Belgian networks

Even though there are more (virtual) providers with whom you can take out a subscription, there are only three physical networks present in the Belgian market. These three companies that have their own antennas and cabling to provide their users with a signal. If you are not a customer of theirs, you will indirectly use their network anyway.

These three are Telenet/Base, Orange and Proximus. Other providers therefore operate on one of their networks. As a result, as a customer of Mobile Vikings, for example, you depend on Orange for your internet speed and range.

Which network does your operator belong to?

Proximus : Scarlet, Tango, Telindus, BICS

Telenet (Base) : SFR, Lycamobile, United Telecom, Nextel, D Digiweb, Join, e Fuser, Ergatel, Vectone Mobile, Allo RTL, JIM Mobile, Türk Telekom Mobile, Aldi Talk, Ello Mobile, Carrefour Mobile, Ortel Mobile, United Telecom, Transatel, VOO

Orange : 5/5 Telecom, Tellink, Galaxy, Mobile Vikings

Results of the study

The research focused on 2 pillars: Voice telephony and Data. To test the voice telephony, a 90 second phone call was initiated every two minutes. In order to map the differences in data, bipt has carried out several tests. These include throughput, file upload and web browsing.

Voice results

The parameters of the voice results are:

Success ratio : can you call without problems (lost connection)?

Setup time : the time taken from pressing the “bell” button until a connection is established (hearing a beeping sound).

Quality of the conversation : How clear is the conversation?

Voice results
Orange
Proximus
Telenet
Succes ratio
Is er een verbinding tot stand gebracht?
%
99.6
99.7
99.5
Zijn de gesprekken voltooid?
%
99.8
99.8
99.9
Opzet tijd (in seconden)
Tijd
Gemiddelde
2.7
2.2
4.4
Tijd voor de traagste 10%
Gemiddelde
3.9
3.6
3.7
Kwaliteit van het gesprek
Kwaliteit score
Gemiddelde /5
4.4
4.3
4.4
Kwaliteit score van de 10% slechtste gesprekken
Gemiddelde /5
3.9
3.6
3.7

This table was found at: https://www.bipt.be/

The table above shows you the differences in parameters between the providers. In the comparison we do not notice a “best” mobile internet provider. In most cases, the differences at a national level are negligible. The only aspect whith a clear difference is when setting up a phone call. For this instance, Proximus is doing a lot better than its competitors. And with the 10% slowest calls per provider, Telenet is again a lot slower.

It should be noted that these are averages for the whole of Belgium. However, when comparing regional or even very local differences, the differences can be more diverse.

Data results

The parameters of the Data results are:

Throughput : The speed of the Internet, expressed in Megabits per second.

File upload and download : Download a 10Mb file and upload a 5Mb file.

Browsing the web : 6 popular websites were selected to test how quickly you get to the website.

Video : Buffering a video on YouTube

Cloud upload : Upload a 1Mb file.

Data Test Resultaten
Orange
Proximus
Telenet
Throughput
Downloadsnelheid
Gemiddelde (Mbps)
68.3
74.1
99.5
Uploadsnelheid
Gemiddelde (Mbps)
10
10.3
16.3
Bestanden downloaden en uploaden
Downloadsnelheid
Gemiddelde tijd seconden
1.8
1.6
1.3
Uploadsnelheid
Gemiddelde tijd (seconden)
1.8
2.0
2.5
Surfen op het web
Laden van een pagina
Gemiddelde tijd (seconden)
2.7
2.8
2.8
Video
Youtube - Streaming
Tijd tot afspelen (seconden)
1.5
1.6
1.6
Video kwaliteit (0-5)
4.4
4.4
4.4
Cloud upload
Dropbox upload van 1MB
Gemiddelde tijd (seconden)
1.6
1.5
1.6

This table was found at: https://www.bipt.be/

Just like with the voice test, the providers are evenly matched. The biggest difference is noticeable in the Throughput. Orange’s download speed is lagging behind, while Telenet’s is by far the frontrunner.

So which mobile network is the best?

This is a question that has too many factors to give an unequivocal answer. The question to ask is, “which mobile network is best for you”? Depending on your location and the locations you often find yourself in, one provider will outperform the other. In densely populated cities, you are fine with any provider. Do you live in a rural area? Then it is best to look up which mobile phone masts are nearby. Are there many Telenet masts nearby, but few of Proximus? Then it is best to opt for a Telenet subscription. In our FAQ section: “how to find mobile phone masts in your area” you can learn how to find these masts yourself

The full report can be found on the BIPT website.

Xavier Bracke

Xavier Bracke

Xavier is de stuwmotor achter Mercuron. Als CEO en mede-oprichter brengt hij nieuwe communicatietechnieken naar alle gebouwen.