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Opensignal Compares 5G Mobile Speeds Across UK and EMEA

Saturday, June 5th, 2021 (7:51 am) - Score 2,520
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Opensignal, which uses crowd-sourced data to benchmark mobile broadband networks across the world, has published an updated comparison of 5G performance across Europe and the Middle East (EMEA). The UK scored an average download of 121.4Mbps (13.8Mbps upload), which is roughly half what the top performers deliver.

The new report is based off data that has been gathered from many hundreds of millions of devices (Android and iOS Smartphones running their App etc.) between 1st February and 1st May 2021. Naturally, there can be some caveats to this sort of information.

For example, app-based crowd-sourced data could be impacted by any limitations of the devices being used, which at the same time removes the ability to adopt a common type of hardware in order to establish a solid baseline of performance. Nevertheless, Opensignal are one of the better outfits at putting such data together.

Furthermore, we shouldn’t forget that 5G networks in the UK are still in their infancy with limited coverage and, until last month, most operators were primarily using a small slice of the 3.4GHz spectrum band to run their services (excluding any 4G spectrum sharing). Ofcom has now auctioned off new spectrum in the 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz bands (here), but operators haven’t yet had enough time to deploy that. The Huawei ban has also delayed some deployments. Other countries have had access to more spectrum for longer.

The Results

Overall, two countries – the UAE and Saudi Arabia – had the fastest experience in EMEA with average 5G Download Speed scores of 274.9Mbps and 237.4Mbps, respectively. However, the two fastest operators for 5G upload speeds were Switzerland and Netherlands, which scored 37.3Mbps and 36.2Mbps, respectively. You’ll find the UK near the bottom.

opensignal_h1_2021_5g_speeds_uk

Opensignal also conducts a different set of benchmarking in order to analyse how well countries do for online multiplayer video gaming (highly latency dependent), video streaming and voice calls. The scores here are measured out of 100 and generally anything above a score of 75 is considered to be “Excellent.” Happily, the UK performed a bit better in this table and scored around 80 across all three categories.

opensignal_h1_2021_5g_video_call_gaming_performance_uk

Finally, Opensignal measured 5G network availability (not the same as network coverage), which reflects the percentage of time when end-users are connected to a 5G service. Overall, 5G users continue to spend a minority of time connected to 5G services.

In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia 5G smartphone users spent approximately one quarter of time connected to 5G. But in much of Europe 5G Availability was considerably lower, with users in the Netherlands seeing 15.3% of time connected to 5G, falling to around 10% in Finland, Switzerland, France, Italy and Poland while our 5G users in the UK and Spain spent just 5.6% and 5.3% of time respectively connected to 5G.

opensignal_h1_2021_5g_availability_uk

Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. Buggerlugz says:

    Why is Greece so high in this leaderboard exactly?

    1. dave says:

      I suppose they built the network to support that position!

      What exactly were you implying?

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      How come Greece can make such a better job of 5G than the UK can, is what I was implying.

    3. BjoernD says:

      1. Customers in Greece pay significantly more for mobile telephony than Britons.
      2. Trump’s Huawei ban has cost UK mobile operators a lot of money that is missing for 5G rollout.

    4. dave says:

      It sounds a little like you’re suffering from British exceptionalism.

      I’ve long found Greek networks to be significantly better than UK networks for both coverage and speed.

  2. Leave a Reply says:

    O2’s 5G in Edinburgh is a joke. Max you could get is 50Mbps and this is how this will look everywhere once 5G will reach the same coverage as 4G has now.

  3. adslmax says:

    UK mobile network is always a pant – they don’t want your speed but want your money! I remember 4G (EE) in outside of Birmingham Airport I get 32/22 with two bars signal and in outside of Paphos Airport I get 67/42 with full bars signal.

    1. Jordan says:

      Well im with Three and on 4G i get around 150mbps download speed. So it depends where you live tbh, im in London and its fine.

    2. adslmax says:

      Jordan, you are very lucky. Three (smarty) here is 17-22/25 all day but overnight it go up to between 40-60 and 25-29. EE are much better overnight max out at 62/31.

      Telford are very poor signal for three/o2 with two bars or one bar signal. Vodafone and EE are lots better with three and four bars signal.

    3. Jordan says:

      Well hopefully 5G will improve your speeds if it does come to your area! I have 5G but only EE has it in my area which is kind of expensive compare to Three which i pay £16 for unlimited data.

  4. Raymond Woodward says:

    Choice would be a fine thing!

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      You hit the nail on the head Raymond.

  5. Gary says:

    My guess is the people moaning about a slow 5G rollout and slow speeds are the same people that moan when prices are increased and that they can’t get a decent deal from their provider!

    Equipment costs money – you can’t have it both ways! If you want networks to invest more then expect to pay more to cover the cost!

    1. RN says:

      “pay more to cover the cost!” – Not necessarily Gary.

      Some mobile telcos struggle with great difficulty to provide the most basic service. People simply believe waiting for 5G is their only hope, which is hardly unreasonable. It is a stark admission of failure by the provider if they already fail at 3G and 4G.

      Pitiful under-dimensioning of their networks goes back a long long way. Cutting corners (IE) cheap leased lines with 40 Meg shared (3G/4G/5G) bandwidth on a 100/1000 meg clocked circuit for instance. BT Leased lines are extortionate. Why do you think AltNets are booming selling dark fibre?

      I used to see situations like 8 independent cell sites on a microwave chain running from a shared-hub 40 Meg circuit as the telco refused to pay to upgrade the leased line bandwidth. All the customers were complaining it was a fault, but it was working as per design.

      Some cellsites out there are ancient. Some microwave links are inadequate. You just have to hope they’re not the ones serving your town!

  6. Jim says:

    It comes down to what RN says, poor backhaul, but also our networks in the UK are totally hamstrung by planning law. It must be the experience of many that you find yourself with full signal much more of the time when on holiday… why is this? Simply that overseas, higher towers are permitted and they provide better coverage to the main area and wider coverage beyond that.

    NIMBYs in this country have a lot to answer for.

    1. 125us says:

      No, it’s because overseas your phone is likely to roam to all available networks and will always pick the strongest.

  7. Mike says:

    A simple way for a country to get to the top of the ranking is for its providers to offer small data packages, the UK’s position is actually quite good given the large usage allowances vs price and the poor setup of the spectrum auctions.

    1. Mark says:

      @ Mike. Do you think so, there’s still villages and towns with only 2G still, and poor signals, and with the lots of 5G masts being thrown out at planning, it’s not looking great, the Nimby collective are very prominent at the moment.

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