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H1 2020 – 5G Mobile Broadband Speeds and Availability by UK City

Monday, September 7th, 2020 (12:29 pm) - Score 6,331
5G fast network logo. Speed internet 5g concept. wifi bars symbol of speed 5g network

A new H1 2020 report from benchmarking firm RootMetrics has revealed how well each UK mobile operator (Three UK, EE, Vodafone and O2) performs in terms of 5G based network availability and mobile broadband speeds across 16 cities. Overall EE offered the best availability, but in terms of performance it’s not so clear cut.

The source data for this report appears to have been extracted from the testing that RootMetrics data for their recent biannual study of mobile network (4G and 5G) performance across the United Kingdom (here), albeit data that hasn’t previously been fully separated out for public consumption, until now.

We should also point out that EE and Vodafone have been deploying 5G for a lot longer than O2 and Three UK, which explains why some cities don’t yet have a result for 5G connectivity from every single operator as it’s still early days for their respective deployments. By far the weakest player in this respect is O2, which only produced enough 5G test data for the city of Belfast.

Generally speaking, EE delivered the strongest level of 5G availability across almost all of the listed UK cities and their best coverage was found in Birmingham (40.2%). However, in terms of mobile broadband speed, all of the operators broadly delivered “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) levels of performance with a few isolated exceptions. Three UK scored the fastest maximum download speed of 478.1Mbps in Liverpool.

rootmetrics_5g_speeds_by_operator_h1_2020

We’ve included a broad summary of the availability and median download speeds for each of the tested cities below.

5G Availability (%) and Median Download Speed by UK Operator

EE UK

Newcastle 21.1% | 145.9 Mbps
Edinburgh 15.5% | 130.0 Mbps
Glasgow 11.3% | 123.3 Mbps
Belfast 37.4% | 142.7 Mbps
Liverpool 27.9% | 128.9 Mbps
Manchester 29.8% | 142.7 Mbps
Leicester 25.6% | 141.9 Mbps
Birmingham 40.2% | 136.6 Mbps
Nottingham 25.4% | 103.9 Mbps
Sheffield 22.9% | 105.7 Mbps
Leeds and Bradford 9.1% | 124.6 Mbps
Hull 25.8% | 131.4 Mbps
Coventry 11.3% | 122.1 Mbps
London 28.8% | 138.1 Mbps
Bristol 25.2% | 129.3 Mbps
Cardiff 33.0% | 136.7 Mbps

O2 UK

Belfast 0.6% | 121.3 Mbps

Three UK

Liverpool 5.5% | 120.6 Mbps
Manchester 6.7% | 146.3 Mbps
Leicester 6.1% | 193.7 Mbps
Birmingham 15.4% | 92.1 Mbps
Nottingham 1.4% | 173.7 Mbps
Sheffield 5.0% | 86.0 Mbps
Leeds and Bradford 4.5% | 113.2 Mbps
Hull 4.0% | 105.2 Mbps
Coventry 3.4% | 168.8 Mbps
London 5.2% | 133.8 Mbps
Edinburgh 1.0% | 62.5 Mbps

Vodafone

Edinburgh 2.4% | 112.4 Mbps
Glasgow 9.5% | 134.9 Mbps
Belfast 4.8% | 118.7 Mbps
Liverpool 10.5% | 137.3 Mbps
Manchester 6.8% | 153.4 Mbps
Birmingham 6.4% | 127.7 Mbps
Leeds and Bradford 1.3% | 125.6 Mbps
London 5.2% | 181.8 Mbps
Bristol 16.8% | 14.4 Mbps
Cardiff 11.2% | 126.9 Mbps

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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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21 Responses
  1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Looking at those poor figures I don’t believe any of these carriers are using mmWave 5G then. Must be 5G lite.

    What really stands out looking at this list is a good 4g+ signal “should” achieve 150Mbps to 300Mbps and none of the carriers in the list achieve that with 5g even!

    Its a game of catch-up because the carriers know the 100Mbps sweetspot can line their pockets when comparing it to fibre pricing, so there is no viable reason for them to offer exceed 150Mbps on 5g currently. They must all be throttling their 5g.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Excluding Three UK, most of the operators are currently only able to harness a 40-50MHz piece of the 3.4GHz band. Ofcom’s forthcoming auction should improve matters.

    2. Avatar freddie says:

      Well in my part of the world EE brings me constantly nearly 500mbps on 4G so I suggest you move

    3. Avatar Bob says:

      Last I read, mmwave was only currently planned for densely trafficked areas such as stadiums and concert venues. I dont expect it to appear in general populated areas for at least a few years.

    4. Avatar Bob says:

      @Freddie

      Considering the theoretical maximum speed of 4g is only 300Mbps, and that being under laboratory conditions, I suggest you check again.

    5. Avatar Leex says:

      MmWave is useless unless your in a large open area with no objects in the way (like a hand or a body) or transport hubs or sports ground with short range overhead cell bars inside the sports ground (normally 100-200 meters apart from each other

      At least t-mobile usa have got it right rolling out sub 5g700 then sub 1.5-6ghz bands after that

    6. Avatar Mike says:

      Other than major upgrades (4g to 5g etc.), operators tend to only upgrade busy areas and only enable some frequencies ranges.

      Seems to be the typical bare minimum approach.

  2. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Also the top bar chart does not correlate with the bottom listings at all.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Yes it does, you’re probably getting the median and maximum speeds confused. Maximum speeds aren’t listed for each city, only median.

  3. Avatar jd says:

    We have been on Voda’s 4/5G home broadband for the last year in London and the 4G speeds were impressive, about 150-220 Mbps. A couple of weeks ago our mast got upgraded for 5G and we are getting speeds in the 300-450 Mbps range. Really impressed with the speeds and improved latency. Just wish they could sort out CGNAT for a proper alternative to fixed line broadband

    1. Avatar Mike says:

      You can use a VPN router to fix that.

  4. Avatar Michael V says:

    After the nxt auction is when I think we’ll really see big improvements. It’ll be the 700mhz band up for sale and the 3600 – 3800mhz bands also.
    No mention of when mmWave will be available. Though I’m thinking maybe 2022 auction for that.

    5G speeds seem really good anyway right now & will keep improving.

    1. Avatar Leex says:

      Sub 6ghz is where its at (mostly between around 1800-2500 thst have most coverage)

      3.5ghz be interesting to see how it works on my phone soon when it arrives

      I am really not interested in MmWave 5g as its range is less then 100meters typically (large events, sports places and large transport hubs or density packed street areas)

    2. Avatar Michael V says:

      @Leex.
      I agree if the Operators could re-farm some 3G & 4G spectrum on 1800, 2100, 2300, 2600mhz bands then we could see better coverage like we have now & still have really good speeds. I expect they will have more freedom when they make 5G standalone, as right now there needs to be a LTE-A site for 5G-NR to work.

  5. Avatar Mark Scott says:

    I think your Bristol figure from Vodafone is incorrect. It is a tenth of anywhere else.

    1. Avatar Tyeth Gundry says:

      Come to Bristol and try it for yourselves… we got very few masts, large thick walls and bodies of water n hills by the plenty. Lucky if you get reception indoors at all. Vodafone is the best for this though, but remember it’s total bandwidth is fully shared across all users of the mast, of which there will be lots (mobile dongles are popular here).

      I still debate the low speed, as I’ve had better in the past (on EE and Three) but if you think about the gigacube offers over the last 8months and that we had 5g before covid it’s possible it’s just that over-subscribed on the couple of masts around the central area (few hundred thousand people served).

  6. Avatar Bob says:

    It’s about time the rollout was published in more detail. I want to know exactly when my area will be covered, I do not live, work or travel in a major city and have no intention of changing that. There must be a plan somewhere

    I’m now on my second contract phone with 5g capability and still have no idea when I will be capable of receiving it

    1. Avatar CR(0)aig says:

      Totally agree. It’s becoming a farce with operators (Three in particular) casually announcing 5g is available in London but failing to define what they consider London to be. “City of London” ? “London”? “Greater London”? London Borough of…….”? Take your pick of a selection of definitions but don’t expect Three to tell you which applies. Of course all bets are off now and operators are pretty much off the hook when any postcode specific plans that may have informed consumer choice are now no longer worth the paper they may or may not have been written on as the ripping out of Huawei kit takes place

  7. Avatar lolat02 says:

    lol is O2 really only in Belfast ? they’re such luddites.

  8. Avatar f3rgy15 says:

    Those 5G rates are disappointing. I get around 150mbps on my EE 4G. But I suppose many different factors effect this so isn’t really a big surprise. Still few years way before I even think to jump onto 5G.

  9. Avatar Andrew57 says:

    I think the measurements for Bristol are wrong for EE and Vodafone. Currently there’s an issue with 5G in Bristol for EE as speeds are sub 2Mbps up and down and ping times are 300ms + (tested in central Bristol and LH area) as opposed to Vodafone, im seeing 300Mbps with their 5G in central Bristol. EE 5G was working up until June, but when challenged ive been fobbed off saying masts have been set on fire and they have no immediate fix date.

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