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London Bottom of 10 Largest UK Cities for 4G Mobile Performance

Thursday, September 26th, 2019 (9:14 am) - Score 1,838

Crowdsourced data researcher Tutela has examined the mobile network (3G, 4G) and mobile broadband performance of the United Kingdom’s 10 largest cities and discovered that London (England) is the worst of the bunch, while Glasgow (Scotland) is the best. Meanwhile EE was named the best operator for 8 of the 10 cities.

As usual Tutela collects anonymous data and runs network tests via software embedded in a diverse range of over 3,000 consumer applications on iOS and Android devices (Smartphones, Tablets etc.), which enable the measurement of real-world quality of experience for mobile users. The report is thus based off over 3 billion records, including 16 million speed tests and 258 million latency tests, collected between 1st March and 31st August 2019.

The data is then converted into two different measurements – Excellent Consistent Quality (ECQ) and Core Consistent Quality (CCQ). Both reflect a set of thresholds that represent network suitability for different activities (video streaming, making calls etc.) and these are then used to create a score out of 100% (100 being the best).

If a connection hits the ECQ standard (i.e. minimum of 5Mbps mobile broadband download and 50ms latency), it’s sufficient for more demanding mobile use-cases (e.g. 1080p video streaming). By comparison a CCQ connection is considered good enough for SD video streaming, emails and web browsing etc. (e.g. 1Mbps and 100ms latency), but users are more likely to experience delays or buffering on more demanding apps.

Overall London’s mobile networks – supplied via EE, Three UK, Vodafone and O2 – met Tutela’s thresholds for ECQ 74.4% of the time. By comparison Glasgow, which topped the league table, provided its mobile network users with an Excellent experience 78.4% of the time.

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

“London is a major power centre of the UK – and consistent mobile network quality is vital for everyone from businesses to tourists to residents. It’s a surprise to see London at the bottom of the list when it comes to Excellent Consistent Quality in the UK’s 10 largest cities, but no doubt reflective of the challenges of ensuring mobile quality in such a densely populated, data-hungry city.

It’s interesting that London’s Excellent Consistent Quality is actually comparable to Wales’s in Tutela’s recent State of Mobile Networks Report on the UK – and the challenge for operators going forward will be finding the right balance between ensuring adequate capacity in busy urban areas, expanding rural coverage and making the most of the potential of 5G. This will be critical for success in enabling better mobile experiences and succeeding in an ever more competitive mobile marketplace going forward.”

The results were in spite of both cities having similar median download speeds – 13Mbps in London compared to 12.9Mbps in Glasgow.


Overall EE proved to be the fastest network in all cities on average and Leicester had the fastest download speeds, with a median of 14.5Mbps (based on measurements across all networks, and all times of day). We’ve extracted the results below.

1. Glasgow
EE 21.7Mbps
Vodafone 18.4Mbps
Three UK 10Mbps
O2 9.4Mbps

2. Leicester
EE 21.4Mbps
O2 12.7Mbps
Vodafone 11.7Mbps
Three UK 10.1Mbps

3. Liverpool
EE 21.5Mbps
Vodafone 19.9Mbps
Three UK 11.1Mbps
O2 8.8Mbps

4. Newcastle Upon Tyne
EE 19.3Mbps
O2 12.6Mbps
Vodafone 11.9Mbps
Three UK 10.2Mbps

5. Leeds
EE 20.2Mbps
O2 12.8Mbps
Vodafone 12.1Mbps
Three UK 10.8Mbps

6. Birmingham urban area
EE 23.1Mbps
Vodafone 18.3Mbps
Three UK 9.8Mbps
O2 8.8Mbps

7. Manchester
EE 22.4Mbps
Vodafone 18.5Mbps
Three UK 10.3Mbps
O2 8.2Mbps

8. Bristol
EE 21.1Mbps
Vodafone 19.4Mbps
Three UK 9.9Mbps
O2 8.6Mbps

9. Sheffield
EE 20.2Mbps
O2 13.4Mbps
Vodafone 11.8Mbps
Three UK 10.6Mbps

10. London
EE 23Mbps
Vodafone 13.4Mbps
O2 10.1Mbps
Three UK 9.1Mbps

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar Moses says:

    I am not surprised anymore to be honest, the 4G network is so bad in London, people outside complain about black spots in rural/towns/cities in the uk, yet us londoners still suffer from poor performance of london 4G networks (cough the rubbish BT EE networks).

    1. Avatar Jake says:

      Does anyone know if the UK 4G operators using ALL their spectrum? I’m guessing EE rarely use 2600 MHz. They are sat on TONS spectrum but don’t seem to be deploying it.

      Perhaps OFCOM should warn operators and enforce the “if you don’t use it, you lose it” rule?

  2. Avatar Leeman says:

    5mbps will not stream hd (1080p) effectively without constant buffering.
    ee with 4g plus averages around 200mbps down in London with good coverage throughout the city…
    Three on the other hand I find to be massively overloaded.
    I can barely manage 1mbps down on my device and am forced to manual set my connection to 3g where I can average 10mbps down most times.

  3. Avatar Roger_Gooner says:

    Three is bottom of every table (except for Manchester and Bristol where they are second from bottom) for both ECQ and CCQ, and questions should certainly be asked why. In London Three’s ECQ of 66.5% is 16.9 percentage points worse than table-topping EE’s ECQ of 83.4%.

  4. Avatar Michael V says:

    This test didn’t include any city in Wales then!

  5. Avatar Michael V says:

    During my visits to London, speeds have suffered over 4G & 3G.
    Steaming video content is a challenge when in the hotels!
    I’m with Three. but also have a PAYG account on Vodafone.
    EE have a lot of LTE spectrum that is still yet to be used. Vodafone has quite a bit too.

  6. Avatar Jamie says:

    I am on 3, and can often when visiting big citys end up putting my phone to 3g only and I get great speeds. Annoyingly they carry the most data so it kinda understandable.

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