EE retains title of top-performing UK mobile operator

EE users were able to download a 600MB video in just under two minutes

EE continues to be the top-performing UK mobile network operator, with its 4G median download speed of 43.0 Mbits/sec being the fastest nationwide, according to mobile network performance researcher RootMetrics.

This translates to users being able to download a 600MB video from Netflix in just under two minutes.

In fact, the BT-owned operator's 4G median download speed was twice as fast than Vodafone's, which was ranked second at 21.1 Mbits/sec.

Three and O2 scored UK-wide median download speeds of 13.9 and 12.9 Mbits/sec, respectively, and continued to deliver speeds between 10-20 Mbits/sec in the vast majority of cities tested with similar reliability results.

When it came to 5G results, EE tied with Vodafone for first in 5G network accessibility, both being significantly ahead of other competitors. For comparison, EE’s lowest 5G availability of 19.6%, recorded in Edinburgh, was higher than O2’s highest availability of 17.1% in Hull.

However, Vodafone was found to have by far the fastest speeds on 5G. Its 5G median download speed of 216.6 Mbits/sec was found to be more than 11 times faster than its speed on 4G LTE, and its impressive 5G maximum download speed of 545.6 Mbits/sec was found to be fastest in London. EE’s fastest 5G median download speed, recorded in Hull, was measured at 143.6 Mbps.

Commenting on the results, RootMetrics by IHS Markit CEO Kevin Hasley said that recent events have had an impact on the UK’s network developments.

“In the last six months we have witnessed some Herculean efforts from mobile operators to improve their 5G network speeds and availability, while also providing strong performances on 4G LTE, and all while rolling from one lockdown to the next. The progress we’ve seen can only be good news for British consumers who will see improvement across the board with 5G but have the unenviable task of deciding when the right time is to invest in a 5G handset,” he added.

According to Hasley, "the best advice is look at the data".

“Locally and nationally, on both 5G and 4G LTE, and across the gamut of performance, from speed to reliability to call performance and more. Users are becoming both more demanding and savvier, and we consider it vital that they’re equipped with the most up-to-date and accurate information to allow them to make informed purchasing decisions.”

Compared with the rest of Europe, the UK still lags significantly behind in its rollout of next-generation 5G, despite being an early proponent of the tech. Overall UK coverage sits at just 30%, significantly behind the likes of Switzerland at 90%, and Finland at 55%, according to recent research by Qualcomm and Ericsson.

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