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UK Mobile Broadband Speeds Average 5.9Mbps on 3G and 14.7Mbps on 4G

Friday, April 3rd, 2015 (11:53 pm) - Score 3,355
mobile broadband uk

Ofcom has released its second study into the national performance of Mobile Broadband services. The results show that the average mobile Internet download speed had shrunk slightly since last year’s study, with 4G networks delivering 14.7Mbps (down from 15.1Mbps) and 3G doing 5.9Mbps (down from 6.1Mbps).

The telecoms regulator’s latest study is based off 120,000 test samples conducted using Smartphones (October to December 2014) in five sample towns and cities where both 3G and 4G networks have been deployed: Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Newcastle and Poole/Bournemouth. The downside to this approach is that it won’t be very good at reflecting the picture outside of urban areas.

The study also tested upload speeds and reported an average 4G upload rate of 13.6Mbps, which shrinks to just 1.6Mbps on 3G. Mind you even the 3G upload performance makes the dominant form of ADSL2+ based fixed line broadband connections look quite weak and the 4G score is enough to give popular “superfast” fixed line cable and FTTC services a challenge. However mobile data is usually more restrictive (usage caps, traffic management etc.).

Never the less it won’t come as much surprise to find that EE, which has been rolling out 4G for a lot longer than their rivals and is known to have a more advanced network in some of the test cities, tops the table with the fastest average 4G download speed of 18.6Mbps. A quick summary of the key results can be found below, make of it what you will.

ofcom_march_2015_mobile_coverage
ofcom_march_2015_mobile_download
ofcom_march_2015_mobile_upload
ofcom_march_2015_mobile_latency

Ofcom now intends to undertake further testing of 3G and 4G services and will publish a third report in 2015, which we hope will look at more parts of the country than the big urban areas.

Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s Consumer and Content Group Director, said:

People are increasingly connected, communicating and sharing content on their mobiles when out and about. 4G is delivering a significantly enhanced mobile experience and, as these services roll out across the UK, our research will support consumers when choosing the right mobile package for their needs.”

Separately RootMetrics has also published a report that reveals mobile internet performance for the four major networks in the UK’s busiest airports. EE was ranked the top-performing network for mobile internet performance at both Heathrow and Gatwick. At Heathrow, Vodafone, O2, and Three tied for second place. At Gatwick, EE was followed by Vodafone, Three UK and O2 respectively.

Apparently EE’s download and upload speeds were considerably faster than those of any other network at both airports. At Heathrow, EE recorded a median download speed of 31.2Mbps, while Three recorded the second-fastest median download speed at 4.6Mbps.

Meanwhile, at Gatwick, EE recorded a median download speed of 20.4Mbps and a median upload speed of 17.9Mbps. EE’s closest competitor in download speed testing was Vodafone, which registered a speed of 5.7Mbps, while O2 and Three each recorded the second-fastest median upload speed at 1.6Mbps.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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3 Responses
  1. Al

    So what they really mean is average speeds in urban areas not the average speed for the entire UK. Do Ofcom do the same for fixed line broadband speeds only use major urban areas so the firgures look better than they actually are.

    • MikeW

      No.

      The infrastructure report uses, IIRC, sync speeds from about 75% of lines. Within the report, they give rural vs urban breakdowns.

      The other report, based on Samknows test boxes, uses a panel of volunteers with a mix of urban and rural, and divide results accordingly. I think they are aiming for more rural volunteers for the next report.

    • gerarda

      No Ofcom overstate average fixed speeds for two other reasons:

      1. They assume the fixed lines they have no information about have the same average speeds as the ones they do. As these missing ones include all not spots and all those using FWA, satellite etc because of slow ADSL speeds the sample they are using has a higher average speed than the national one.

      2. They use mean average rather than median or mode.

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