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Tutela’s August Data Ranks UK Mobile Operators by Performance

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020 (10:18 am) - Score 912
mobile mast uk in circle

Crowdsourced benchmarking firm Tutela has just published their latest analysis of mobile broadband (4G) focused network performance for the United Kingdom, which predictably finds that EE continues to come top in all but one category and Three UK trails far behind the pack due to a legacy of 3G.

The latest report is based on more recent data than last month’s H1 2020 study (here), which saw it evaluate over 180 million broadband speed and latency tests, in the UK, from over 2 million devices collected between 1st March and 31st August 2020.

As usual Tutela also produces a “Consistent Quality” (CQ) score for each operator, which reflects the percentage (%) of tests in common coverage areas that meet their CORE and EXCELLENT service thresholds – CORE reflects moderately-intensive tasks (i.e. web browsing, social media, SD video streaming), while EXCELLENT reflects more demanding use (i.e. HD video streaming, Skype video calls, online video gaming etc.).

Overall EE came top for download speed (25.3Mbps), upload speed (10Mbps), latency times (11.5ms – a lower figure in milliseconds is better) and they also had the top score for the “Excellent” CQ category of 81.12%. The only category where they lost out was for “Core” CQ, which saw Vodafone come top with a score of 92.80% (above EE’s 92.38%).

tutela_uk_mobile_network_speed_august_2020

Tom Luke, VP at Tutela, said:

“The UK’s ‘big four’ operators continue to impress us with their results, particularly EE and Vodafone. This year, Tutela added new metrics to the table to get a deeper sense of what mobile users are experiencing in the UK, which demonstrated the ongoing competitiveness of the market, even as EE continues to pull away from the rest in the top spot.

Despite the continuing race to get 5G up and running smoothly, it’s pleasing to know that in the interim, users can still get the best out of their operators in the form of strong and reliable connections – an absolute must as many students and employees still continue to work from home. For 2021, the challenge will be taking the limited 5G coverage in the UK, and expanding it so that more users can feel the benefit”.

One of the reasons why Three UK tends to trail the pack is down to the fact that they have the highest proportion of customers who still connect via older 3G (HSPA) based mobile broadband networks, instead of the current 4G technology. This is well illustrated at the bottom of the following chart.

The chart below also provides a useful indication for how much data is flowing over the different radio bands between operators. As part of that it’s interesting to note how users of O2 and Vodafone make more use of the lower frequency bands (these are good for wide coverage and indoor, but not so good for data speeds due to limited spectrum frequency).

tutela_mobile_4g_spectrum_use_august_2020

At present 5G and related bands are not included in the above chart as all current significant deployments in the UK rely on a 4G primary cell to support them. Likewise, such networks currently have very limited coverage and take-up, but we hope to see them being reflected in future reports.

As usual we must stress that any testing conducting via non-dedicated apps could be less accurate than dedicated ones (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).

Suffice to say that performance 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.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Name says:

    All I can get recently in Vodafone is 4-5Mbps with often timeouts during the website browsing.
    Can’t wait until the end of my contract in January.

    1. Avatar Leex says:

      Depends on area (in London it’s a crap shot sometimes even from Street to Street on how your data and signal will work)

      Presently I have not had any problems with Vodafone (not that I would like more people to join Vodafone because then it would interfere with my connection) but I get consistently over 50-100mbs+ on 4g as Vodafone is very aggressive at using 4g+ (Cheshire area in general)

      Ee generally good as well but some specific spots that are slow (as they lack 4g800 I guess that’s why)

      I mostly given up on 3 as they don’t have enough 4g bandwidth and don’t deploy 4g+ in areas its needed (open fields or close to the cell it’s really good but housed areas not so much)

  2. Avatar Michael V says:

    These tests only give a general overview. I wouldn’t advise anyone to make decisions on things like this. The best test is the one we do ourselves. Even the temp PrePay SIM to check coverage & speeds on a different Operator. I’m more for Root Metrics & Opensignal. I believe they provide the four Operators with results of tests.

    I use Opensignal & let it take maximum amount of background tests including RootMetrics.
    Other than that I wouldn’t suggest any other apps. If someone is thinking of downloading a network mapping app.
    There is CellMapper that I use for mapping cell sites, but it does use quite a bit of battery power so not good to keep running all the time.

    1. Avatar Leex says:

      Been using the Motorola G 5g and battery on that phone actually holds up quite well sometimes forget to close CellMapper doesn’t seem to affect the battery significantly (only down side with this phone doesn’t support 30w charging so little slow to charge if your screen is on with GPS active)

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