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EE Comes Top in Tutela’s 2019 State of UK Mobile Networks Report

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 (9:35 am) - Score 1,664
tutela_uk_mobile_network_testing_map_2019

Crowdsourced data analysis firm Tutela has today published their annual 2019 State of Mobile Networks report for the United Kingdom, which among other things found that you’ll get the fastest 3G and 4G mobile broadband download speeds in Scotland (median average of 14.6Mbps). Overall EE delivered the best operator scores.

As usual the research was conducted by gathering anonymous usage data from the background of many supporting Android and iOS based Smartphone apps (conducted between 1st February to 31st July 2019), which produced a total of 223 billion measurements, 6 billion records, 17 million speedtests and many other tests for latency, jitter etc.

Interestingly Scotland delivered the fastest average (median) mobile download speeds in common coverage areas across all major networks (Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three UK) of 14.6Mbps, which was followed by 14.2Mbps in Wales, 14.2Mbps in England and just 12.7Mbps in Northern Ireland. Scotland’s networks also delivered the highest Excellent Consistent Quality – with 77.5% of connections meeting the Excellent threshold compared to 74.7% in England, 74.4% in Wales and 71.6% in Northern Ireland.

Overall all four mobile operators were relatively close for Tutela’s measurement of Core Consistent Quality, which is a set of thresholds that represent network suitability for day-to-day activities like streaming standard-definition video. Just 3.3% separated first-place EE from fourth place Three UK, and all operators had more than 93% of tests where a user had signal meet the threshold.

tutela_consisten_quality_by_uk_mobile_operator

However the results for mobile broadband speeds and latency show some much bigger differences between the four primary operators and EE leads the pack, which is largely in keeping with the other studies we’ve seen from RootMetrics, Ofcom and OpenSignal.

Fastest UK Operator by Median Download Speed

1. EE 21.2Mbps
2. Vodafone 13.3Mbps
3. O2 9.9Mbps
4. Three UK 9.7Mbps

Fastest UK Operator by Median Upload Speed

1. EE 8.2Mbps
2. Vodafone 6.5Mbps
3. O2 5.3Mbps
4. Three UK 4.7Mbps

Fastest UK Operator by Latency Performance (Milliseconds)

1. EE 13ms
2. O2 16.6ms
3. Vodafone 16.9ms
4. Three UK 17.3ms

The results will make for grim reading at Three UK, although on the 4G side of things they’ve historically tended to control less radio spectrum and have more data hungry users than the other operators. The amount of time that their users spent connected to the 4G vs slower 3G side of their network may also have had an impact (roughly reflecting network coverage).

tutela_uk_time_on_4g_and_3g_by_operator

We should point out that at present the new generation of 5G mobile networks are only just starting their rollout and so won’t yet be having any significant impact upon such studies, although next year’s report may start to tell a different story.

Tom Luke, VP at Tutela, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“EE’s dominance in the UK market is significant, both in raw metrics but also against Tutela’s Excellent and Core Consistent Quality thresholds which represent whether users’ network experience will meet the requirements of most mobile apps. It’s also notable that Scotland’s mobile networks perform so well, and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues next year, with the majority of current 5G investments so far focusing on English cities.”

As usual we must stress that testing conducting via non-dedicated apps could be less accurate than dedicate solutions (e.g. Opensignal). Crowdsourced data can also be affected by the user’s location, as well as any limitations of the device being used and it similarly lacks a common type of hardware (useful when trying to form a solid scientific baseline of performance). Suffice to say that speed testing like this may not always tell the whole story but it remains a useful bit of extra information and seems to echo other reports.

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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
12 Responses
  1. Avatar Michael V

    I don’t take these reports too seriously.
    I’m on Three, in my village speeds are really fast & consistent & with the new AI cube home WiFi giving great performance.
    I’ve seen speed improvements around South East Wales too.
    Coverage is great, between 3G-HSPA, LTE & VoLTE, that’s my priority over having the fastest speeds.

    EE will always be at the top on 4G. Time they were knocked off their place with 5G!

    • Avatar Archie

      Can’t argue with that. Three get a lot of unfounded flak. Where I live, they’re great. I would agree that their coverage perhaps isn’t as good as the others, but not to the same degree that people often spout.

    • Avatar Michael V

      Hey Archie. It makes me wonder, these people who bash on Three… There’s probably still a lot of users out there who don’t have a phone that supports Supervoice, all it takes is a phone upgrade, then they could have better coverage.

      But it’s also the same with Vodafone.

  2. Avatar Tim Markholm

    I find it hard to believe O2 were higher than bottom on any metric. In the South West they have have 4G signal but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will provide you with a speed higher than 0.5mb/s on average. Not even enough speed to stream Spotify in the daytime!
    EE and Vodafone are the true contenders and honestly unless Vodafone fix their outsourced customer services, faulty billing systems and stop selling by speed then it’s a one horse race for 5G next!

    • Avatar Archie

      Strongly agree with you, Tim. O2 had the power back in the early days and now they’re awful, they deserve the poor reputation that Three wrongly has.

  3. Avatar Jamie Simms

    What I would like to know on these reports that use so called background testing is what are the apps that have this functionality built it to get these results.

    As to do background speed tests this would show on most people handsets as data usage

  4. Avatar Tim

    I live in Canterbury and the 4G here on EE is terrible. It may as well not exist. I wish they would do something about it!

  5. Avatar John Harkness

    I have always found Three to be good, EE OK, O2 abysmal and Vodafone simply expensive (and not much good). Here in Monmouthshire I have download speeds of about 25mbps which I am very happy with, given that FTCC gives me only 5. But I have found that the right modem makes a big difference. Currently using the Huawei 535 which for me is a step up of about 10Mbps over the 525.

    • Avatar John Harkness

      I should also add that my connection is constantly measured by SanKnows so I get a very good record of my connection speeds over a long period.

  6. Avatar SimonM

    Someone needs to do a per-mast (probably with overall results per village/town) to break down exactly how each mobile network compares. I’m sure in some places some networks are considerably better, for coverage or speed, where as another location they may not be so good and a rival far better.

    For example both o2 as Vodafone are considerably faster and appear to have better coverage in my area compared to EE. The ofcom coverage maps sort of give this data (and indeed the icons confirm the poor coverage from EE and low/none from Three), but no speed or other real world figures that would give some real measurable metrics.

  7. Avatar Anna

    Really? I’m using huawei p30 pro and it’s dual sim card. Went to Resorts World Birmingham, O2 network is Full Bars while EE is Zero bars with X. And every time i’m at work, O2 network is Full bars, while EE is 1 bar only. And even when i’m at home and call my friends, i’m always chopping off and have to switch to O2 all the time.. Can’t wait for my EE contract to finish, i’m paying £75-£78 a month but shit service.

  8. Avatar Michael V

    The two apps I have are root metrics & Opensignal. I allow them both to collect the max amount of data they can. I think those two are the more official services & they are clear with users on how they measure tests & what info they collect.

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