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RootMetrics H2 2018 Study Name EE Top and O2 Bottom for UK Mobile

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019 (7:00 am) - Score 2,846
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RootMetrics has today published their latest H2 2018 study of 4G and 3G based mobile network performance in the United Kingdom, which once again found that EE came top with an overall score of 94.5 out of 100 and they were followed by Vodafone on a score of 92.9. Meanwhile O2 has improved but continues to come last.

In this round of testing the organisation used Samsung Galaxy S8 and S9 Smartphones purchased off the shelf from operator stores, and tests were conducted during the day and night while walking and driving. Overall the team conducted a total of 600,476 tests, while also driving 600,476 miles and visiting 652 indoor locations.

Interestingly the biggest change this time around came from the operator that didn’t improve its overall ranking at all from the prior H1 2018 report. Indeed O2 may have ranked fourth in the categories of overall performance, network reliability, network speed and data performance but they did deliver a score of 89.5 (up sharply from 86.6 in H1), which puts them close to Three UK on 91.1 (Three fell from 2nd to 3rd place).

We should add that O2’s on-going deployment of the newly released 2.3GHz band for 4G services is likely to result in a continued improvement, which could even lift them out of the bottom by the end of 2019 or early 2020. On the other hand Three have recently started to deploy Carrier Aggregation (CA) and that may work to counter O2’s improvements (here).

Overall Scores for H2 2018 (vs H1 2018 Result)
1. EE – 94.5 (down from 96)
2. Vodafone – 92.9 (up from from 90.1)
3. Three UK – 91.1 (down from 93)
4. O2 – 89.5 (up from 86.6)

In terms of network reliability, call score and text score there’s very little difference between the operators (all score well and at a similar level). But the story is rather different when looking at network speed (i.e. a “holistic look” at general mobile broadband speed) and data scores (examines data connectivity, speeds during file transfers, as well as the performance of email, apps and webpages), where EE and Vodafone pull ahead.

Scores by Category

Network Reliability
1. EE 96.1
2. Three UK 95.6
3. Vodafone 94.9
4. O2 94

Network Speed
1. EE 91.3
2. Vodafone 89.3
3. Three UK 77.6
4. O2 75.8

Data Performance
1. EE 95.5
2. Vodafone 94.4
3. Three UK 89.7
4. O2 88.1

Call Performance
1. EE 92.6
2. Three UK 92.3
3. Vodafone 90.4
4. O2 90.4

Text Performance
1. EE 98.5
2. Vodafone 97.4
3. Three UK 97.2
4. O2 96.4

The study also examined performance across the UK’s 16 most populated metropolitan markets. Overall EE delivered topline median download speeds (mobile broadband) – those in excess of 20Mbps – in more markets than any other operator. EE also recorded the fastest median download speed among all operators in metro area testing, at 48.5Mbps in Hull (their slowest was in Cardiff on 20.4Mbps), but Vodafone’s wasn’t far behind.

Meanwhile O2’s fastest data speeds were found in Leicester (23.0Mbps) and their slowest were in London (9.5Mbps) of all places. By comparison Three UK’s best metro area was Leeds and Bradford (18.2Mbps) and their slowest was also London (9.9 Mbps). Finally, Vodafone’s fastest city was Bristol (45.5Mbps) and they were slowest in Newcastle (10.8 Mbps).

Kevin Hasley, Head of Product at RootMetrics, said:

“EE’s strong performance in testing is testament to the consistent investment into improving its 4G network. Vodafone and Three are also making improvements as they vie for market position. Although O2 ranks fourth in our testing, it is well placed to improve, having secured key parts of the 5G spectrum in 2018.”

The next big hurdle for all of the aforementioned operators will be the roll-out of ultrafast 5G services, which is one area where Three UK are already very well positioned to exploit due to their related spectrum holdings.

However we’ll only see a very limited commercial deployment of 5G starting later this year, thus it’ll be the end of 2020 before wide-scale commercial coverage begins to filter down. So for the immediate future it’s 4G performance that will continue to set the tone of such studies.

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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
2 Responses
  1. Avatar Michael V

    Been waiting to see where Three & EE are with reliability in Wales. Been to Root Metrics’ site. Three are 2nd after EE but I don’t think the a huge difference. It’ll be interesting to see how Three cover the UK with 5G-NR. They have a huge amount of spectrum. They just need some 700mhz when it goes up for auction! That’ll be exciting times between all four Operators!

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