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Three UK and EE Come Top in 2013 Mobile Broadband Road Trip Test

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 (9:37 am) - Score 1,618

Mobile operator’s Three UK and EE have come top in the latest annual study of roaming Mobile Broadband performance. Overall Three UK delivered the highest peak internet download speed of 8.66Mbps (Megabits per second), while EE delivered the best average speed of 3.43Mbps. But once again it’s bad news for Vodafone.

The study, which was conducted by Broadband Genie and PC Advisor magazine, tested most of the markets Mobile Network Operators (MNO) while travelling on a four hour train journey all the way from London’s Kings Cross (England) to Waverley Bridge station in the centre of Edinburgh (Scotland).

A variety of different Smartphones, Tablets and USB Modems (Dongles) were used by the team and the key results are as follows.

Best Average Download Speeds
1. EE 3.43Mbps
2. Three UK 1.87Mbps
3. T-Mobile 1.31Mbps
4. O2 1.2Mbps
5. Samba 0.97Mbps
6. Globalgig 0.76Mbps
7. Virgin Media (Mobile) 0.26Mbps
8. Vodafone 0.19Mbps

Best Average Upload Speeds
1. EE 1.79Mbps
2. Three UK 0.94Mbps
3. Globalgig 0.84Mbps
4. Samba 0.74Mbps
5. Virgin Media (Mobile) 0.51Mbps
6. O2 0.41Mbps
7. Vodafone 0.23Mbps

Curiously there was no upload speed score for T-Mobile but they were given a ‘Recommended’ status due to being a good all-round performer. However the news was clearly less rosy for Vodafone, which has recently seen a succession of different studies showing them as being home to bottom dwelling service speeds.

Naturally Vodafone has recently said that such surveys do not represent a proper test of their network or service quality, although it’s becoming increasingly hard to ignore the trend. Only a few short years ago Vodafone were close to the top.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. DanielM says:

    I wonder what testing methods they use. Since o2 and t-mobile and orange wont be too accurate unless they disable the image compression via headers or the app.

    1. DTMark says:

      A very good point. Even if their speed tests don’t actually take that into account e.g. they’re just Speedtest.net style tests and so exclude that factor, it certainly has a big bearing on the user experience. Three manages to do very well despite having no image compression techniques.

  2. Stephen says:

    I recently switched from O2 to 3 & I have to say I’m very impressed with their speeds. Last night I managed to get just over 20MBps on 3G, that’s incredible!!

    1. DTMark says:

      We’ve just had the DC-HSPA+ upgrades here for “Ultrafast” (cough)

      I haven’t bought the new router that I need to take advantage of that yet, but we generally see speeds of between 9Meg and 14Meg downstream with the nearest cell being 2.7km away – that’s with (single channel) HSPA. Hoping to hit the magic 20Meg soon – this is the fastest broadband connection I’ve ever actually had since I moved out of cabled areas when they were still at 2Meg top speeds.

  3. dragoneast says:

    I think the point is exactly that: depending on where you use the service the results will come out differently. I’d support this analysis: across the country I prefer EE and Three, with the caveat that the EE service is available more widely (geographically), but Three over EE (except in major urban areas) – where it’s available. O2 and Vodafone tend to be good or hopeless, and when I’m travelling I prefer average to patchy good – I don’t want to spend my time signal hunting. The absence of compression doesn’t help you if you can’t get a signal, nor is it of much use if the mast is heavily congested.

    1. DanielM says:

      Three is well better. three gives you real internet unlike EE which is proxied

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