We’re starting to see some powerful 4G networks emerge in the U.K. The problem is those 4G signals don’t find their way to that many places. In partnership with consumer advocacy group Which?, OpenSignal today released its State of Mobile Networks report for the U.K. We found more operators providing faster LTE connections, but overall LTE coverage in the U.K. leaves a lot to be desired.
One of the biggest surprises in our report, which drew on 60 million tests conducted between November and January, was the big improvement in 4G speed we measured on 3. The operator recently upgraded its LTE networks with new spectrum and capacity, and it didn’t take long for those improvements to bear fruit. We measured average 4G speeds for 3 at 18.7 Mbps, which put it in a statistical tie with Everything Everywhere for fastest U.K. network in our test period.
3, however, is still far behind EE, 02 and Vodafone in 4G coverage. 4G subscribers on 3’s networks only saw an LTE signal 39.8% of the time. EE won the 4G overage category with a metric of 60.6%, but overall the U.K. made a rather poor showing when it comes to providing highly available LTE networks. Countries in Northern Europe and North America are already achieving coverage levels greater than 70%, while in some parts of East Asia, LTE is just as widespread as 3G.
OpenSignal collaborated with Which? to take an in-depth look at the U.K. mobile scene. As part of that effort, Which? conducted a consumer satisfaction survey that gauged consumer perception of U.K. operators. You will have to wait a bit longer to read the results of the survey, to be published in the next issue of Which?’s magazine.
The performance of and consumer satisfaction with the U.K.’s mobile operators is certain to be a hot button topic as the telecommunications market there continues to consolidate. 3 and 02 are looking to merger operations shrinking the number of nationwide operators from four to three. OpenSignal recently took a look at what that merger could mean for 4G quality by looking at how consolidation has impacted other European countries.
Expect our next U.K. State of Mobile Networks report in six months, at which point a lot may have changed. If you’d like to contribute to that report, we encourage you to download OpenSignal’s iOS or Android app and start collecting data on your local operator. Meanwhile, let us know what you think of our current findings.