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EE and Vodafone Come Top of New 2020 UK Mobile Benchmark

Tuesday, Jan 14th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 7,171

Mobile operators EE and Vodafone have today come top in umlaut‘s (formerly P3) annual 2019 UK Mobile Network Test, which used a range of different benchmarks to test 3G and 4G (voice and data / broadband) services across 21 cities, 29 towns and along 10,700km of major roads.

Both of the study’s drivetests and walktests were conducted during November 2019 using a Samsung Galaxy S9 Smartphone for each operator. Four drive test vehicles covered a total of 10,700km, visiting 21 cities and 29 towns. Additionally, two walk test teams visited 10 cities and travelled on trains between them. The test area accounts for 17 million people or approximately 27% of the total population of the United Kingdom.

On top of that umlaut also harnessed crowdsourced data, which was collected over 24 weeks from early June to mid-November 2019. For the collection of crowd data, umlaut had integrated a background diagnosis process into 800+ diverse Android apps. Overall the drive and walk tests produced around 226,361 data and 28,635 voice samples. By comparison their crowd-sourced testing involved 316,000 users providing 5.3 billion test samples.

Overall EE performed best by taking the lead in all three categories, alongside an overall grade of very good and a score of 876 out of 1,000 points (down from 879 last year). Vodafone remains second ranked with an overall grade of good and a score of 839 points (up from 796 last year – Vodafone is said to have “improved considerably” over the year).

The second largest operator, O2, ranks third with an overall grade of satisfactory and a score of 697 (up from 663 last year). O2 also ranks third in the data and voice categories and second in the crowd category. The fourth place is held by Three UK, who achieves a score of just 621 (down from 711 last year) and an overall grade of sufficient.

umlaut uk mobile network study 2020

The results and standings broadly mirror various other studies, which tend to put the operators in a similar order.

Hakan Ekmen, CEO of umlaut Telecommunication, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“Congratulations to EE for being the winner of this year’s benchmark. Vodafone follows with the most improved score, while O2 also deserves acknowledgement for a clear score improvement, compared to our previous benchmark, and advancing to third place. Finally, Three provides good voice services, particularly in towns and on roads. With all UK operators starting to deploy 5G, we are looking forward to evaluating their 5G performance next year.”

We’ve posted some of the raw scores and statistics below from cities, including mobile broadband speeds, although we’ve excluded the voice results since most operators delivered very good voice quality and thus this aspect of service is less of a problem area than data performance and availability. Sadly the benchmark’s focus on urban areas means we don’t really get a proper picture of rural performance.

umlaut uk mobile data network broadband scores 2020

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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8 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Phil Simpson says:

    Up here in rural areas of the Highlands EE,Voda & 3 kinda suck. Whilst O2 isn’t perfect either it is much more reliable than the rest. At least O2 are trying to cover less profitable areas too.

    1. Avatar photo John Mac says:

      This is interesting! I guess it’s a huge area of land though to be fair. I live up in the Highland’s too (Caithness) however I find O2 unfortunately to be the poorest network in my area, still a lot of area’s on O2 that can grasp only a 3G network for my work phone, whereas Vodafone have made leaps and bounds up here upgrading our infrastructure as before we only had 2G capability and now I get 4-6 bars 4G wherever I go now. Before that EE used to be king and probably still is for speed but not for reliability.

    2. Avatar photo dalit says:

      This benchmark cover high populated area. The Crowd data can give you bit more information about the whole country but still amount of sample would be limited and generate mostly in high populated area.

  2. Avatar photo TelcoStudent says:

    Really both are not really in same category after 2017 as per the report, i believe you are just trying to give Vodafone what they can’t have in Last 6 year :O

  3. Avatar photo TelcoStudent says:

    Article heading is completely misleading !!!!

  4. Avatar photo J says:

    I find in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire Three are excellent. In London however, they appear to struggle

    1. Avatar photo Robert Paul says:

      I’ve been with thread for a long time, Well in central London three
      Perform As very Well as good as it’s competition but if you go 8 miles from the centre of London into the suburbs of Greater London Three is not so strong in terms of coverage and speed ..

  5. Avatar photo John Davies says:

    I can agree with those findings, I used to be with 3 a while back, they were best around my area, got a good deal off ee, they were brilliant, even more so now I thought I got a good deal off 3 again and realised how poor they have become. The 4g is pathetic compared to ee ( where I am based anyway)

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