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Three UK Named Fastest Mobile Broadband Operator in Road Trip Test

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 (2:45 pm) - Score 732
mobile broadband uk

Mobile operator Three UK has come top in a new Road Trip 2014 study of Mobile Broadband performance, which among other things found that the provider delivered both the fastest average 3G (4.48Mbps DOWN and 1.4Mbps UP) and 4G (6.19Mbps DOWN and 1.54Mbps UP) based mobile Internet speeds. Meanwhile EE was a close second.

The PC Advisor and Broadband Genie study was based on 39 tests that were conducted, at the same time and in the same locations, during a train trip from London to Edinburgh and back. Apparently each operator is understood to have submitted a 3G and 4G mobile dongle (USB Modem) to be put through its paces as part of the test, so it’s not exactly a like-for-like comparison and perhaps “Train Trip” would be more accurate than saying “Road Trip“.

Three UK
3G (4.48Mbps DL / 1.4Mbps UP)
4G (6.19Mbps DL / 1.54Mbps UP)

EE
3G (2.62Mbps DL / 0.91Mbps UP)
4G (3.99Mbps DL / 0.62Mbps UP)

O2
3G (2.03Mbps DL / 1.24Mbps UP)
4G (4.13Mbps DL / 0.89Mbps UP)

Vodafone
3G (1.21Mbps DL / 0.66Mbps UP)
4G (3.2Mbps DL / 1.49Mbps UP)

The results come in quite a bit lower, for all of the operators, than the RootMetric’s scores that we’re use to seeing. But then RootMetric’s tends to study the performance in cities where network coverage is more mature, while trains are more likely to suffer from patch coverage until Network Rail completes its infrastructure upgrades in a couple of years’ time. The study is also unclear about where the tests were conducted as it would be interesting to know how many took place in a rural area.

It’s interesting to note that a similar test conducted in 2012 (here), when 3G was the only network option for Mobile Broadband, found that average download speeds floated between 0.97Mbps and 1.93Mbps (note: Three UK came top then too with 1.93Mbps). Average performance has clearly improved since then but experiences continue to vary.

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Mark Jackson
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
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Tim

    Something is very wrong with 4G if those are typical speeds!

  2. Avatar Stephen

    I can well believe this, in my experience Three have superb rural coverage (well in Aberdeenshire anyway!) and I would go so far as to say they are better rurally than in the city.
    Given that 4G has only been rolled out to large cities so far and there would be large parts of a train journey where you are outwith cities, those figures look about right. I’m sure it’ll change one the 800MHZ rollout begins to rollout and spread across the UK.

  3. Avatar Vince

    I would be amazed to learn this, but that’s exactly why I am with Three.

    Speeds do vary of course, but it isn’t unheard of to get 10 meg plus on 3G and over 25-30 meg on 4G with them – and as Stephen comments, they’re really good in many rural areas where other networks still rely on 2G or no service at all.

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