Mobile Networks Update: UK (October 2018)

EE continues to dominate our analysis of mobile experience in the U.K., winning five of our seven national award categories and drawing in one other. The operator did lose its 3G download speed crown to rival 3, but pulled ahead to win our 4G latency award after a draw in our last State of Mobile Networks report. We analyzed over 1.1 billion measurements from nearly 77,000 devices in the 90-day test period starting June 1, 2018 to compare the 3G and 4G mobile data experience offered by the U.K.'s four national operators, 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone. All four have seen fairly stagnant growth across many of our metrics, while we even saw scores fall in some categories.

  • In our 4G download speed analysis, EE kept its place at the top of our table with a score of nearly 29 Mbps — but the leader has seen no growth in this category over the past six months. The biggest increase we measured was on Vodafone, which grew its average 4G download speed by almost 2 Mbps to 21.9 Mbps. Meanwhile 3 saw a notable drop in its score by over 3 Mbps to 18.8 Mbps — allowing Vodafone to leapfrog it into second place.
  • In our 3G download category, 3 put in an impressive sprint to increase its score by nearly 1 megabit to reach 7.8 Mbps, grabbing the top spot from EE whose score stayed relatively level at 7.2 Mbps. Of the other U.K. operators, O2's 3G download score remained virtually the same while Vodafone saw its score drop slightly since our last report, meaning the two statistically tied for third place on 4.58 Mbps each. Static 3G speed growth may be a result of its reallocation of network resources and capacity to 4G; indeed, EE is planning to refarm its 2100 MHz spectrum from 3G to 4G over the next few months, allowing it to add more capacity to its LTE networks.
  • Neither Vodafone's 4G speed increase or 3's top spot in 3G download was enough to catch EE in our overall download speed category, which factors in the combined speeds of operators' 3G and 4G networks and the level of access to each technology. EE's winning speed also stayed fairly static in this category on 25.9 Mbps. Indeed, the only notable growth we saw in this category was Vodafone's increase of close to 2 Mbps to reach 18.4 Mbps and secure the second place spot.
  • This pattern of stagnant growth was repeated in our 4G availability analysis, where EE kept its crown but the only notable growth was from fourth-placed 3 which increased its score by 6 percentage points to close the gap on the other three. EE also just managed to slip ahead of its rivals in our 4G latency category, when an improvement of less than 1 millisecond in its score allowed it to pull ahead of Vodafone after a draw in our last report.

Report Facts

1,104,989,130
Measurements
76,939
Test Devices
2018-06-01 - 2018-08-29
Sample Period
United Kingdom
Report Location

Awards Table

Download Speed: 4G Download Speed: 3G Download Speed: Overall Upload Speed: 4G Latency: 4G Latency: 3G Availability: 4G

3

medal

EE

medal medal medal medal medal medal

O2

Vodafone

medal

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Performance by Metric

Download Speed: 4G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: 3G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: Overall

This metric shows the average download speed experienced by OpenSignal users across all of an operator's 3G and 4G networks. Overall speed doesn't just factor in 3G and LTE speeds, but also the availability of each network technology. Operators with lower LTE availability tend to have lower overall speeds because their customers spend more time connected to slower 3G networks.

Upload Speed: 4G

This metric shows the average upload speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Latency: 4G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Latency: 3G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Availability: 4G

This metric shows the proportion of time OpenSignal users have an LTE connection available to them on each operator’s network. It's a measure of how often users can access a 4G network rather than a measure of geographic or population coverage.

Regional Performance

This chart shows the regional winners in each category OpenSignal measures. Click on the icons to see a more detailed graph showing each operator’s metrics in a particular region.

Legend: O2 Vodafone 3 EE
Region Download Speed: 4G Download Speed: Overall Latency: 4G Availability: 4G
East Midlands
Eastern
London
North East
North West
Northern Ireland
Scotland
South East
South West
Wales
West Midlands
Yorkshire and Humber

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Our Methodology

OpenSignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks as they go about their daily lives. We collect 3 billion individual measurements every day from tens of millions of smartphones worldwide.

Our measurements are collected at all hours of the day, every day of the year, under conditions of normal usage, including inside buildings and outdoors, in cities and the countryside, and everywhere in between. By analyzing on-device measurements recorded in the places where subscribers actually live, work and travel, we report on mobile network service the way users truly experience it.

For this particular report, 1,104,989,130 datapoints were collected from 76,939 users during the period: 2018-06-01 - 2018-08-29.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the changing experience of consumers on mobile networks and, therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only. For more information on how we collect and analyze our data, see our methodology page.

For every metric we've calculated statistical confidence intervals and plotted them on all of the graphs. When confidence intervals overlap for a certain metric, our measured results are too close to declare a winner in a particular category. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

©2018 OpenSignal, Inc. All rights reserved.

OpenSignal, Inc retains ownership of this report including all intellectual property rights, data, content, graphs & analysis. Reports produced by OpenSignal, Inc may not be quoted, reproduced, distributed, published for any commercial purpose (including use in advertisements or other promotional content) without prior written consent.

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