Who has the best mobile network in the Nordics?

Opensignal’s Global Mobile Network Experience Awards 2022 showed that the mobile networks of Sweden, Finland – and especially Norway and Denmark – provide some of the best experiences in the world.

But there are many 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 four global network experience specialists: Opensignal, Tutela, Ookla Speedtest and umlaut.

We have included the latest overall or 5G-specific tests made public in 2021 or 2022.

The named winner per metric in the latest mobile network performance tests performed in 2021 or 2022 by Opensignal, Tutela, 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 66% 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.)

TDC in Denmark – from 1 January 2022 split into two separate companies, one ServCo and one NetCo: Nuuday and TDC NET – gathers the most mentions in Denmark. TDC wins 76% of the metrics.

In Finland, it’s much tighter. The operator that has the highest frequency of being mentioned as a metric winner is Telia with 39%.

The battle in Norway is less tight: Telenor is the metric frequency winner with 71%.

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: TDC
  • Finland: Telia
  • Norway: Telenor

To a high extent, this is a “dog bites man” result. The inherited knowledge of the average mobile user is that the incumbent operator has the best mobile network. The only surprise is perhaps Finland where most Finns seem to have the warmest feelings for Elisa’s network quality.

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 Germany. 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, TDC has the highest mobile ARPU in Denmark (at least on the consumer side) and Norway has the highest mobile ARPU in Norway – by far. The exception to the rule is Telia in Finland (where Elisa leads in ARPU) but as indicated Telia might actually not yet be recognised for its network quality although it tends to win Opensignal, Tutela and Ookla tests slightly more often than DNA and more often than Elisa.

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. To answer it, we could turn to Tutela’s Global State of Mobile Experience report for 2021. It names TDC as the network with the best mobile experience – not just in Denmark, but in the world. Telenor Norway is number three globally, though, so the difference is small. And it is one view, not four as in our table.

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 often commissions 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 (there are no tests done in 2021 or 2022 in the other countries). It appears as if umlaut’s reports generally are commissioned by a specific operator, but it is not stated in the Swedish report that it is commissioned by Telia. Removing umlaut would not change the conclusion.

Links to all results shown in the table: