Broadband  |  2023-01-20

Critical Communications Network Operator ASTRID Doubles 'Blue Light Mobile' Users

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor

Blue Light Mobile, ASTRID's mobile telecommunication subscription, is booming. In just a few years, the number of users has more than doubled.

According to a drive test done by the independent agency Commsquare, the performance of the network is at a high level.

The ASTRID Blue Light Mobile service offers emergency and security services employees access to the existing mobile telecommunication networks of the three major operators in Belgium, with Proximus as the first preferred network. This is done by means of Blue Light Mobile SIM cards in all types of mobile devices: mobile phones, tablets, laptops, pagers, but also drones, sensors, cameras.

“And there is clearly a need for that,” says Antony Zannier, Product Management team leader at ASTRID. "The number of users has doubled in 2.5 years. In March 2020 we were at 6,000 users, and by the beginning of next year we will pass the 12,000 mark, maybe even 13,000. Those are growth figures that you don't see every day.' Data use is also on the rise. It has grown by 55% in one year."

“Not only because of the larger number of users, but also because of the enhanced possibilities. For the people in the field, but also because of the Internet of Things, which means that much more data is exchanged between machines. And evolution does not stop.”

Drive test
A major advantage of Blue Light Mobile is the excellent performance of the network. Blue Light Mobile users get higher data speeds when saturated, they have priority over 'regular' users in crisis situations and when the network is saturated, and the connection is more secure.

“But occasionally we heard echoes from the field that the performance of Proximus in particular was better, although we use the same network. That is why we decided to have the performance compared by the drive tests of the company Commsquare, an independent organization that regularly compares the performance of commercial networks.”
The method of comparison is simple: the company drives across the country and tests different SIM cards on the in terms of coverage, data rate and call quality. What seems? Blue Light Mobile performs exactly as well as Proximus.

The drive test also looked at whether Blue Light Mobile switches smoothly to another network when Proximus fails. That also turned out to be the case.

“The transition to Telenet or Orange went smoothly. In some cases - but certainly not always - there were delays when the mobile phone wanted to switch to Proximus again. But that apparently has to do with the mobile phone itself (brand and type) and its configuration.' Then why the perception among some that Blue Light Mobile performs less well? ‘In individual cases you can indeed sometimes see differences. Even with two SIM cards on the same network and location. A base station antenna typically has three cells, and one cell sometimes receives more traffic than the other. So occasional differences — in the two directions — are normal. But people like to compare, and if you notice that one mobile phone has a line less than the other, you quickly draw your conclusions. That is why there is a drive test. An objective test with a generally accepted methodology and a large test range, where Blue Light Mobile comes out particularly well.” Naturally, we want to continuously improve the service, so we are asking for first-hand feedback from Blue Light users Mobile on site. These users can therefore always report to their personal ASTRID advisor."