The romanian mobile market is comprised of several MNOs and VMNOs, of which four have their own networks: Digi, Orange, Telekom and Vodafone. The network situation for these MNOs acts as a trustworthy barometer of the network situation in the country. A good knowledge of the network situation also allows the customers to perform fully informed decisions. The objective of this report is to provide a summary of the network situation in Romania for these four carriers.
This report provides a quick overview of the network situation based on the following KPIs:
- Disconnection time: time that the users of an MNO have had only emergency coverage or no coverage in average, in minutes.
- 4G and 5G time: time that the users of an MNO have had 4G and, if deployed, 5G coverage (including 5G NSA and 5G SA).
- 5G penetration and usage: percentage of users that have 5G connectivity and the percentage of time that 5G is actually used.
- Network status in the Common Coverage Area: an analysis of the network status, based on the signal strength and the signal quality, for the areas where all four MNOs provide coverage.
- Call technology usage: percentage of use of each call technology by MNO. This shows which technologies are mainly used by the customers.
- Mobile network latency: percentage of customers on different latency ranks. The ranks are selected according to several performance thresholds.
The data collected by Weplan Analytics shows that, overall, all four main MNOs have a good network situation in Romania, with very similar performance among them. There are, however, some notable differences, between the MNOs.
Digi is the MNO with the lowest disconnection time, less than half than their competitors. In addition, it has the highest percentage of daily usage time in advanced connectivity.
It should be noted that Telekom is the only MNO without a current 5G deployment in Romania. Vodafone is the operator with the largest 5G client base (6%), while the other operators, Orange and Digi, have 2% and 1% of 5G clients respectively. On the other hand, Vodafone and Orange are the leaders in 5G coverage time for its 5G clients (54%). Digi lags far behind, with just 4% of 5G coverage for its 5G clients.
About the call types, Telekom customers use VoLTE technology the least compared to its competitors (13%). The other operators use VoLTE in between 76% of the calls (in the case of Vodafone) and 77% of the calls (in the case of Digi and Orange).
Digi offers the best quality of 4G and 5G coverage, both area-wise and measurements-wise, since it offers at least 50% of the area and measurements with a good coverage or better. The others operators have a similar quality of 4G and 5G coverage, being Orange and Vodafone slightly better than Telekom.
Finally, regarding latency, Vodafone presents a better overall latency than its competitors, with 62% of its measurements being excellent.
The main key figures are the following:
- The four main MNOs (Digi, Orange, Telekom and Vodafone) in Romania provide 4G or 5G coverage to their customers at least than 90% of the time.
- Nowadays, 5G is still on an initial phase and there are few 5G clients in the country. The MNO with most 5G clients is Vodafone (6%), followed by Orange (2%) and Digi (1%). Among the 5G clients, Vodafone and Orange lead the 5G coverage time with 54% of 5G coverage and Digi only offers 5G coverage 4% of the time.
- VoLTE calls are relevant for Digi, Orange and Vodafone, being at least 76% of calls. In the case of Telekom, 3G calls are still the most prevalent, being more than half of its calls.
- At least 87% of measurements of all carriers have a good enough latency for a decent experience across all types of usage.
In the following pages an in-depth description of each analyzed KPI can be found, including the methodology and rationale behind them. At a more general level, the following paragraph describes the data collection methodology.
Weplan Analytics collects crowdsourced data from more than 200 million devices in 31 countries. For this analysis, 600 million measurements collected between December 2022 and February 2023 were used. The following map shows the density of measurements taken throughout the country by Weplan Analytics.
As these MNOs serve their networks to other parties (such as VMNOs, due to roaming agreements or as part of emergency coverage) the following criteria to analyze each MNO were followed:
- Digi has been filtered by the SIM DIGI.
- Orange has been filtered by the SIM ORANGE.
- Telekom has been filtered by the SIM TELEKOM.
- Vodafone has been filtered by the SIM VODAFONE.
More details about the methodology can be found here.
Connectivity: Disconnection time
The following table and graphic show the disconnection time as the average daily minutes that a MNO has experienced disconnection. Disconnection time includes moments when a customer has no coverage at all (for example in underground parkings, inside elevators, so far away from a site that connection is not possible…) or moments when a customer only has emergency coverage, that is, the ability to perform only emergency calls. This disconnected time may (and, in most cases, will) be discontinuous, and is the sum of all disconnections experienced by users.
Among the romanian MNOs, Digi experiences less than half disconnection time than its competitors, with an average of only 7 minutes of disconnection per day. Its competitors have between 15 minutes (the case of Orange) and 18 minutes (the case of both Telekom and Vodafone). Although this is the added time for all customers, it is a great indicator of the coverage capability of each MNO.
Connectivity: 4G and 5G time
With the advent of the newer 5G technology older technologies such as 2G and 3G are being turned off to free frequencies. Thus, guaranteeing at least a proper 4G coverage is one of the main goals of MNOs, and for those who already have 4G sorted out, the focus turns to 5G.
Regarding 4G and 5G connectivity, Digi, once again, reaches the best position, with 98% of the time under 4G/5G coverage. It is followed by Orange (93%) and Telekom (92%). Vodafone comes last with 90% of its time under 4G/5G coverage.
It is worth noting that this indicator, for Telekom, only refers to 4G connectivity, as they have no 5G network in Romania.
5G penetration and usage
In 2019 it was reported that 5G could already be commercialized in Romania, although it was not until 2022 when the 5G spectrum auction took place. Only Orange, Vodafone and Digi participated in the auction. Since Telekom did not participate in the auction, it does not have a 5G network deployed, and will be omitted in the 5G analysis.
The ability of a customer to use the 5G network depends on several factors. First, their device must be 5G compatible. Second, the MNO must have a 5G network. Finally, the client must contract a mobile plan that allows the 5G to be used, as not all MNOs offer full access to the 5G network as part of the regular plans. The following charts show the percentage of users by MNO that have 5G access and, for those who do, the percentage of time that they are under 5G coverage. To establish whether a user is a 5G client or not, their 5G connectivity has been checked:if they have connected to the 5G network at least once, they are considered 5G clients.
Due to the short time that 5G has been active in Romania, the percentage of 5G clients in Romania is very low in the three operators analyzed in this section, with Vodafone having the most 5G clients (6%), followed by Orange (2%) and Digi (1%).
Regarding the 5G coverage time there are large differences between the operators: Vodafone and Orange offer 5G coverage to its 5G clients 54% of the time, whereas Digi only offers 5G coverage 4% of the time.
4G and 5G network status
There are two main network performance indicators: signal strength and signal quality. Each technology has its own measurements, but five great categories can be established:
- Very Good: The performance of all network usages will be excellent.
- Good: The performance of all network usages may present occasional difficulties but is overall good.
- Fair: Most network-dependent usages (such as calls or data usage) will have a decent or better performance.
- Degraded: Network usage will be unstable and unreliable but allows for basic usage such as calls with acceptable quality and very slow data transfer.
- Very Degraded: Network usage different from emergency calls is near impossible.
There are two ways to establish this value: looking at the percentage of area and looking at the percentage of measurements on each category. Most measurements take place in urban areas, where coverage is better, but in most countries most of the area is not urban, so the percentage of area with a problematic network situation may be different to the percentage of measurements with a problematic network situation. To ensure a fair comparison between carriers only areas where all MNOs have data have been analyzed. Also, as most connections are made in 4G and 5G, only those technologies have been considered.
The overall network situation in the common coverage area in Romania, area-wise, is good. Digi presents the best result with at least 87% of the area with fair or better coverage. It is closely followed by Orange (85%), Vodafone (82%) and Telekom with (80%). In addition, it is worth noting thar Digi is the only MNO with at least 50% of the area covered with good or better coverage.
Measurement-wise the situation is very similar. Digi keeps its leadership in fair or better measurements, with an 81% of the measurements being fair or better, followed by Orange and Vodafone with an statistical tie (77%) and Telekom (75%). Once again, Digi is the only operator with more than 50% of measurements with good or better coverage.
Call type percentage
Although 2G and 3G allows for data usage, the advent of 4G and more recently 5G technologies have relegated them to mostly call usage. The absence of 4G-based call technology ensured that 2G and 3G, as the only way to make a phone call, were still relevant. The development of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) calls during the 2010s marked the beginning of the end for these legacy technologies.
However, not all customers can benefit from VoLTE calls. For a customer to use this technology several conditions must be met:
- Their MNO must provide 4G and VoLTE.
- They must have a phone capable of performing VoLTE calls.
- They must have a phone rate that includes VoLTE calls.
- Their phone must be homologated by the MNO and the manufacturer to perform VoLTE calls.
The fourth condition means that a customer, without changing their phone, can have VoLTE with one MNO but lack it with a different MNO. When a customer connected to 4G without VoLTE capabilities (for any reason) tries to perform a call, a hand-off process to the 2G or 3G network takes place. This process, depending on the method applied, is called CSFB (the most common one) or SRVCC. Aside from those technologies, VoWiFi (Voice over Wi-Fi) is also used when a Wi-Fi network is available.
In Romania, VoLTE technology is the main calling technology used by Digi, Orange and Vodafone. Digi and Orange have the highest VoLTE usage (77% of all calls), followed by Vodafone (76%). Telekom customers, however, made more than half of their calls under 3G (either directly or through CSFB). For this MNO, VoLTE calls only represent 13% of all calls made, and it should be noted that 2G calls are still relevant for Telekom (36% of all calls).
Latency is the measurement of how much time it takes for the information to be transmitted between the user and the network. A lower latency means a faster, smoother network experience, whereas a higher latency means that the network experience will not be as good, or even unusable. This makes latency a good indicator of user experience. We have divided latency in four great groups:
- Excellent latency translates to a very smooth user experience, even with the most data-intensive usage, such as gaming or 4K streaming.
- Good latency translates to a good user experience, although gaming may not be as fluid and 4K may present occasional problems.
- Degraded latency translates to a mediocre user experience. Gaming and 4K are either uncomfortable or impossible, videochat may present noticeable lag and messaging with multimedia may take a long time to load.
- Bad latency translates to an essentially unusable network. Only the lightest usage, such as sending messages without multimedia, works decently.
All MNOs present a similar latency situation, with at least 87% of their measurements being good or excellent. Digi leads this category, with 93% of their measurements being good or better, followed by Vodafone (91%), Telekom (90%) and Orange (87%). However, the differences between good and excellent measurements are noteworthy: Vodafone stands out on its competitors with 62% of measurements with excellent latency, followed by Digi (43%), Orange (13%) and Telekom (4%).
On the lower end, all MNOs have a similar percentage of measurements with poor latency. In terms of measurements with degraded latency, Orange and Telekom stand out with 9% and 8% respectively.
The information on this report is provided as of public interest by Weplan Analytics. The information on this report is provided by Weplan Analytics solely for the user's information and it is provided without warranty, guarantee or responsibility of any kind, either expressed or implied. Weplan Analytics and its employees will not be liable for any loss or damages of any nature, either direct or indirect, arising from use of the information provided in this report. Weplan Analytics is the owner of copyright in all material or information found on this report unless otherwise stated. All contents that are published in this report are safeguarded by copyright. This copyright includes the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute the contents, including reprints, translations, photographic reproductions, electronic forms (online or offline) or other reproductions of other similar kinds. Only non-commercial use may be beyond the limitations with prior written consent. Journalists are encouraged to quote information included in Weplan Analytics reports and insights as long as clear source attribution is provided. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org