ANACOM study highlights need to improve the quality of mobile networks along CP's Alfa Pendular service

In July, ANACOM conducted a study to assess the performance of mobile, voice and data services provided by the operators MEO, NOS and Vodafone on CP's Alfa Pendular service. This study, which assesses the services provided over 2G, 3G and 4G, checks the quality of the service from a user's point of view. Fieldwork took place from 12th to 20th of July 2021, with tests carried out inside Alfa Pendular trains along the entire length of the Braga-Porto-Lisbon-Faro railway axis.

In total, 1,462 voice calls and 8,916 data sessions were established, corresponding to approx-imately 487 voice calls and 495 data sessions per indicator and operator, over a length of 2,800 kilometres.

The main results observed in the measurements carried out on CP's Alfa Pendular service are as follows:

  • The voice service has a poor level of performance overall, and there are many areas where it is not possible to establish or maintain calls. Vodafone was the best performing operator and MEO and NOS were the worst performing operators.
  • In terms of railway section, the sections with especially poor performance were Trofa-Porto/Campanhã, Santarém-Carregado and Funcheira/Ourique-Tunes where none of the three operators performed well in the voice service.
  • In terms of data services, the file transfer service generally provided sufficient capacity for the establishment and retention of data sessions. There was some degrada-tion of performance in relation to Internet browsing and YouTube video streaming ser-vices, and the verification of data transmission latency.
  • In successfully established and maintained file transfer sessions, overall average data transfer speeds are reasonable, both download and upload. However, there were significant differences in performance between operators, with MEO and Vodafone per-forming best and NOS performing worst. However, this indicator contains a very high level of variability, with maximum values of 168.88 Mbps and 55.23 Mbps and minimum values of 0.006 Mbps and 0.011 Mbps (download and upload respectively). These minimum values make it difficult or impossible to transmit data under reasonable conditions (see Download file Annex 1).
  • The performance of Internet browsing and YouTube video streaming services, as well as data transmission latency, is lower than file transfer performance, with some differ-ences between operators.
  • In terms of railway section, there was notably poor performance along the Pombal-Fátima, Fátima-Entroncamento, Santarém-Carregado and Funcheira/Ourique-Tunes sections, where none of the three operators performs well providing the data service.

Table 1 presented in Download file Annex 2 summarises the differences observed between operators and, whenever possible, the respective position (from best to worst performance). Tables 2 and 3 summarise performance of voice and data, respectively, by railway sections.

This study is carried out as part of ANACOM's assigned responsibilities and at the request of CP, which considers mobile communications to be an important factor in achieving the revital-ization of rail transport.

See the report

Coverage obligations along railway lines resulting from the auction of 5G and other relevant bands

The coverage obligations resulting from the auction of 5G and other relevant bands made provision for a mobile broadband service with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps by the end of 2025, to ensure coverage of each of the railway lines making up the Atlantic Corridor (within Portuguese territory): the Braga-Lisbon line, Lisbon-Faro line and the suburban and urban lines of Lisbon and Porto. This is in addition to the obligation to ensure 85% coverage along all other railway lines.