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RootMetrics Reveals 5G Mobile Broadband Speeds in Cardiff UPDATE

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 (7:00 am) - Score 1,618

RootMetrics has today published their second report into the tentative initial availability and mobile broadband performance of 5G Mobile networks, albeit this time focused upon the city of Cardiff in Wales. Overall EE UK came top for both average download speeds (163.1Mbps) and network availability (43.4%).

As with the earlier report for Birmingham (here), we have to point out that there are some caveats to the data, not least with how the testing was conducted between 26th September and 2nd October 2019 (i.e. before Three UK and O2 had launched their 5G mobile networks in the city). As a result of that only EE and Vodafone were included and the former has had more time to rollout (i.e. at this stage comparing availability is a little pointless).

On top of that the testing in Cardiff was only based on the team having driven 134 miles, including tests via 10 indoor locations and 10,070 total tests conducted via both a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G (EE) and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G (Vodafone) smartphone. The fact that they used a different phone for each network also opens up the possibility of differences due to end-user hardware or antenna design etc.

Overall EE’s 5G network had availability of 43.4% to Vodafone’s 14%. In terms of Mobile Broadband speeds the results are below, although it’s worth remembering that early 5G networks don’t have many users (low congestion) and are somewhat hobbled by their ability to access a single slice of the 3.4GHz band (EE has a 40MHz slice and Vodafone 50MHz). Ofcom will auction off more bands in 2020 and that will have a big impact upon speed.

NOTE: In terms of peak download speed, the maximum recorded on EE’s 5G network was 339.4Mbps vs 345.9Mbps on Vodafone.

Non-5G (4G/3G) Median Download Speeds in Cardiff
1. EE 58.8Mbps
2. Vodafone 37.1Mbps
3. Three UK 13.9Mbps
4. O2 8.2Mbps

5G Median Download Speeds in Cardiff
1. EE 163.1Mbps
2. Vodafone 113.6Mbps

Sadly there are no results for upload or latency performance, which is a missed opportunity. Nevertheless the most reasonable conclusion that we can draw at this early stage is that initial 5G networks are delivering at least more than double the performance of prior 4G networks. This is actually better than it sounds given how 4G has access to multiple bands via Carrier Aggregation and 5G does not.. yet.

A separate report from Opensignal, using different methodology, has already given us an indication of just how fast we can expect 5G networks to go once they have access to the best spectrum in the near future (here). Ideally we really need to allow another year for 5G to rollout further before testing starts to become truly useful as a tool for performance comparisons.

UPDATE 6th Nov 2019

RootMetrics informs us that, in terms of the choice of phone for testing, their goal is to assure that testing is reflective of the best possible end-user experience on each operator’s network. “To that end, we go through an extensive device benchmark process to determine which phone works best for each network rather than using the same device across all operators by default,” said the spokesperson.

In this case, the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G was the best device for testing EE, while the Xiaomi device was the best device for Vodafone’s network.

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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.
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar Jamie Simms

    This report does show that the data for speed tests is inaccurate due to handset differences. As I was in Cardiff city centre on Saturday 21st September all day it was a nice sunny day and there was lots of locals out shopping and sitting outside bars & restaurants plus there was an event on at Principality stadium with over 50,000 additional visitors.

    I was still getting regular speeds of over 450Mbps download and upload over 25Mbps on Vodafone 5G this was very impressive

    • In fairness that’s one test in one location vs 10,070 at different locations and times of day across the city. Mobile is inherently variable, so you have to create a good body of data in order to give it a fair reflection.

    • Avatar David

      My brother In Law is a fiend engineer for RM and he was the guy who did this testing. Well him and 2 others. I’ve seen what he does , He might have 15-20 of the latest and previous year handsets laid out on a bed in a hotel room when he is testing. They don’t just wonder around with 1 handset and say “that’ll do” he’s usually in 1 location for over a week. I know which Hotel he was in in Cardiff and he was there for a week – When I see his set up it blows my mind!

    • Avatar David

      Field* haha – the other one, not so much 🙂

    • Avatar Jamie Simms

      Mark Jackson- I did a number of Speedtests over 20 in the day and they were in different locations around Cardiff . The tests were done on Speedtest.Net,N Perf,Fast and Think Broadband testers.

      That’s why I found it strange that on a day when the city is busier than usual that the speeds I observed were a lot higher than Root Metrics reported I do wonder if it is the handset they used as looking back on their Birmingham report the peak speed observed was again quite bit slower than speeds I have seen.

    • Avatar Connor

      I said this on the Birmingham one too but their average was slower than my usual average low and I could easily pull over double that through a lot of places in Birmingham. I have a Note 10+ 5G

  2. Avatar David

    All linked into a massive laptop and some other RF equipment. Looks like something out of Ghost Busters!

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