Who has the best mobile network in the Nordics – 2023?

Opensignal’s Global Mobile Network Experience Awards 2023 again showed that the mobile networks of Sweden, Finland – and especially Norway and Denmark – provide some of the best experiences in the world. Some Nordic operators are even top ranked in Opensignal’s 5G Global Mobile Network Experience Awards.

But there are several companies – some with global, some with local ambitions – that offer their take on who has the best mobile network. To differentiate, providers define different metrics and use different methodologies. Rather than boring you with those, we have compiled a cross-case table naming the winner per each metric across three global network experience specialists: Opensignal (now having merged with Tutela), Ookla Speedtest and umlaut.

We have included the latest overall or 5G-specific tests made public in Q4 2022 or 2023.

The named winner per metric in the latest mobile network performance tests performed in Q4 2022 or 2023 by Opensignal, Ookla Speedtest and umlaut. All source links are available at the end of this blog.

If we assign equal weight to each metric, Telia has the highest frequency of being mentioned as a winner or co-winner in Sweden – it wins 51% of the metrics. (If there are two mentioned winners, each operator is counted as one half. If there are three mentioned winners, each operator is counted as one third). 51% is good, but last year, Telia got 66%.

3 in Denmark gathers the most mentions in Denmark. 3 wins 44% of the metrics. Last year it was TDC that won with 76%.

In Finland, the top dog changes too: The operator that has the highest frequency of being mentioned as a metric winner is DNA with 45%. Last year Telia won with 39%.

In Norway Telenor is the metric frequency winner with 62%. Last year Telenor won 71% of the metrics.

So if you believe in our approach of crowdsourcing mostly crowdsourced mobile network performance winners, the following four operators have the best networks in each country:

  • Sweden: Telia
  • Denmark: 3
  • Finland: DNA
  • Norway: Telenor

The inherited knowledge of the average mobile user is that the incumbent operator has the best mobile network. This is still true in Sweden and Norway, but not longer in Denmark and Finland. Both 3 in Denmark and DNA in Finland are the last entrants (although those entries are more than 20 years ago).

To be seen as the operator with the best mobile network is very powerful. Bad network quality is a significant driver for churn. Opensignal has shown this in a series of analyses. There’s not a Nordic example from them on this yet, but Opensignal has e.g. found this to be the case in the US. When an operator’s customers are convinced that they are on the best network, one can expect them not to churn. This lowers the churn rate and saves millions in customer acquisition and retention cost. And it provides an operator with the possibility to charge a premium.

Telia has the highest mobile ARPU in Sweden and Telenor has the highest mobile ARPU in Norway. But neither 3 Denmark nor DNA Finland are leading in ARPU. DNA has lately overtaken Telia to become the number 2 in ARPU in Finland, though. 3 is still last in Denmark, so 3 is clearly not yet recognised for its network quality.

If it is this important to be recognised as having the best mobile network, you also understand why it is so important for operators to broadcast test wins. We wrote this 6% of EBITDA piece about it a long time ago.

If an independent company says that an operator’s network is the best, that could be one step towards changing the inherited perception in a market. It could convince a few non-believers to actually consider the winning operator next time – and it could strengthen the belief of the operator’s customers that they made the right choice.

But who has the best network in the Nordics – not just in the country? Our analysis doesn’t really allow us to answer that question. Tutela used to rank operators globally, see Tutela’s Global State of Mobile Experience report for 2021. But this report isn’t issued since Tutela became a part of Opensignal.

Methodology note

We have excluded tests results made public via mobile operators from the table. The issue with these are that they are commissioned by the operator that publishes them. They might still be scientific and correct, but we do not think an operator would make them public unless they were favourable for the operator in question.

TDC has for a number of years commissioned Teknologisk Institut to do Denmark-specific tests. DNA has over the years turned to Omnitele for Finland-specific tests. Elisa has often commissioned Finland-specific tests from Boftel. What is common for these tests is that the operator that commissioned them always have the best test results.

We have though included Ookla’s Speedtest Awards in the table although these only are published if the winning operator agrees to license them. In plain language: if the winning operator doesn’t pay, it won’t be published. The only such license cases so far in the Nordics are with Telenor Norway but removing their Speedtest Awards from the table would not change the conclusion.

We have also included umlaut’s latest test results for Sweden and Denmark (not done in the other countries in 2022 or 2023). It appears as if umlaut’s reports generally are commissioned by a specific operator, but it is not stated in these two reports that they are commissioned by Telia. Removing umlaut would not change the conclusion for Denmark, but for Sweden, Telia would have to hand over the win to 3.

Links to all results shown in the table: