Markus Mandau and Wolfgang Pauler
Drei remains in third place in Austria. The network operator has caught up a bit compared to the competition, but cannot catch up yet. Last year, Drei still had the best long-distance train network. The network operator must submit the title to A1. On the other hand, Drei is catching up a lot with 5G.
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While Magenta and A1 are in a close duel for first place, Drei remains at the bottom. But this is not necessarily bad, because this year Drei received the grade "very good" with a 1.5 have given more weight to the 5G category. This is exactly where Drei needs to improve. However, the subsidiary of CK Hutchison Holdings is on the right track. This is good news, especially for bargain hunters, because tariffs for the Drei network are particularly cheap. Offers with a data volume of 10 GB are now available for less than 10 euros a month – and without a built-in speed brake.
Anyone who gets involved with the Drei network as a customer will receive very good service, but compared to the competition, the network takes last place in terms of both reliability and performance. The gap in rural areas is slightly larger. Here the network only ranges between good and very good, while magenta and A1 do not lose that much compared to the network quality in the cities. In the cities, three makes a very good impression. In the long-distance trains, on the other hand, the Hutchison daughter falls behind and has to concede the surprising first place of last year. Compared to our measurements from last year, Drei can improve, but the competition is growing faster and overtaking Drei in this sub-rating.
Fast: The measurements on motorways and country roads show that three overtakes magenta in terms of download speed.
Strengths and weaknesses of three
Three can definitely convince in some tests. When it comes to uploading, all three network operators have increased significantly compared to the previous year, which may also have something to do with the fact that we switched from the Galaxy S10 to the modern Galaxy S21+ as a measuring device. Average upload rates of 50 MBit/s and more are not uncommon for Drei. With an average of 54.7 MBit/s in urban hotspots, Drei is even ahead of A1 with 54.1 MBit/s. Magenta leads at 62 Mbps. All three networks are close together in comparison and deliver more than enough speed for the needs of the vast majority of customers. Even if the networks in the inner cities are heavily used, there are no bottlenecks with the uploads. The slowest ten percent of all uploads in inner cities start in Drei's network at 37.2 Mbit/s. This puts you ahead of Magenta with 35.3 Mbit/s. In this scenario, the latter is A1 with 29 MBit/s.
Drei is also convincing in this discipline in the countryside. On average, the network still has to admit defeat to the competition, but Drei proves to be robust under poor network conditions: The worst ten percent of all uploads here start at 31.5 MBit/s, which means Drei again sets the best value and is faster than Magenta with 29.8 MBit/s and A1 with 26.8 MBit/s. Even when it comes to downloads, the robustness of the Drei-Netz in the country is convincing. The threshold for the bottom ten percent of all downloads is 29.3 MBit/s, leaving Magenta well behind with 22.4 MBit/s. A1 remains unchallenged here with 40.6 MBit/s.
Three can only convince occasionally. The network should improve, especially in terms of reliability. Looking at the pass rates of our tests, Drei usually lags behind the competition. When driving on motorways and country roads, the rate of successful downloads is 98.7 percent, while uploads are slightly lower at 98.2 percent. Sounds good, but is not satisfactory compared to the competition, which is between 99.7 and 100 percent.
Fast uploads: Drei still delivers a high upload speed, especially under poor conditions.
5G network with room for improvement
Drei's 5G network leaves a better impression than last year. In terms of availability, we see an increase of 15 percent (see note on homepage), while magenta and A1 only achieve around 8 percent. Nevertheless, Drei's 5G network lags behind in a direct comparison. Drei provides 5G almost exclusively on the N78 band at 3.6 GHz. The band guarantees high performance, but does not have a large range compared to the frequencies on which LTE usually transmits. In the cities, this factor does not play such a big role, which the Austrian network operators also show. In the five major cities of Vienna, Linz, Salzburg, Graz and Innsbruck, we have found between 80 and 95 percent availability of 5G on the N78 along our route. The worst value is three in Innsbruck with 82.5 percent. In the smaller cities, 5G is not yet as well developed as in the metropolises. The odds are different. In Amstetten, Drei only has an availability of two percent, in Bregenz it is 82.1 percent. Overall, Drei achieved an average of 71.4 percent across all the cities we examined, putting it behind Magenta (78.8 percent) and A1 (81.6 percent).
In rural areas, the expansion of 5G on band N78 is not progressing so quickly, because the short range plays a major role here. We measured an availability of 32.2 percent for three along our route on motorways and country roads. This puts three at the bottom, but the rate of A1 is not much higher at 34.9 percent. Only magenta can set itself apart with 46.7 percent.
In the 5G performance on band N78, Drei has to admit defeat, but can improve significantly compared to the previous year. At that time we had measured a download average of 147 MBit/s. Now Drei comes to 351 MBit/s, which does not yet come close to Magenta and A1, whose average is over 415 MBit/s. Drei can't keep up at the top either. If you look at the fastest ten percent of all 5G downloads, the threshold in the network of three is 530 Mbit/s, while A1 cracks 700 Mbit/s and magenta even reaches 721 Mbit/s. Three is still behind with 5G, but building the new technology is a good opportunity to rearrange things. With 5G upload, for example, Drei is already ahead of A1 with an average of 91 MBit/s with 77 MBit/s. So there's hope that three doesn't have to be third forever.