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5G Performance in London and 5 More UK Cities for H2 2021

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 (11:50 am) - Score 2,352
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Mobile benchmarking firm RootMetrics has today published a new set of H2 2021 results from their testing of 5G (mobile broadband) networks in the UK cities of Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester. Overall, EE tended to deliver the strongest availability and performance, but not for all cities.

The company conducts their studies by harnessing 5G Smartphones (e.g. Samsung), which are purchased off the shelf from operator stores. The testing itself is then conducted over a six-month period – during both the day and night – across the locations, while walking and driving around them. Sadly, no data on the testing itself is included to help give context.

NOTE: RootMetrics’ prior report on 5G performance in Coventry, Leeds and Bradford, Nottingham and Sheffield is HERE.

The data below also reflects their so-called “Everyday 5G” performance metric, which factors the results recorded on both 5G-only and 5G mixed mode connections. Mixed mode reflects performance from scenarios in which a user switches between 5G and older 4G services during the same data task, an experience that’s quite common.

The map below depicts scores for 5G availability % (i.e. percentage of time spent on 5G), 5G median download speeds (Mbps) and the overall median download speed (4G + 5G in Mbps) in the last column on the right. Sadly, we get no figures for either upload speeds or latency times.

Overall, EE recorded the best 5G availability in three out of the six cities tested, but they were pipped to the post by Vodafone in Liverpool, Bristol and Cardiff. As for 5G speeds, EE came top in Manchester, Bristol, London and Cardiff, while O2 (VMO2) were the fastest in Glasgow and Three UK did the same for Liverpool. All but one of the tests delivered download speeds above 100Mbps on 5G.

RootMetrics-H2-2021-5G-UK-City-Map-Report-Two

Mobile Broadband speeds remain incredibly difficult to pin down due to the highly variable nature of the technology. Users of such services are always moving through different areas (indoor, outdoor, underground etc.), using different devices with different capabilities and the surrounding environment (weather, trees, buildings etc.) is ever changeable.

On top of that, different operators may have different levels of coverage, technologies, backhaul capacity for cell sites and spectrum bands. All of this can impact the service you receive and will vary from location to location.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. 5G_Infinity says:

    All those speeds look to me to be best case 3G and 4G or 4G Advanced low ball. Those speeds are not 4G Advanced Pro or 5G, Three in Maidenhead next to their office has shown 1.8Gbps off of one of their towers, that is 5G.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      They’re median averages across a wide area, not peaks.

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      Still pathetic for 5G though.

    3. Sam P says:

      They’re not really pathetic.

      When 4G was first released I could get direct line of site speeds of 100mbps+.

      When 5G was first released I could get direct line of site speeds of 1000mbps+.

      4G average now for me is probably 10mbps or less.

      5G average now for me is probably 100-200mbps.

      See the difference?

    4. El Guapo says:

      and in Stockholm I was getting a reliable 400mbit on 4G in 2015.

      See the difference?

      UK networks are slow. EE put 5G in next to me. 300mbit. Three put 5G in the town next to us, 850mbit.

  2. Michael V says:

    Refreshing change to see someone over take EE in Cardiff & the three counties around.
    Vodafone are doing well.
    My main phone is with Three & with their aggressive roll out of 5G-NR 4G coverage is faster & fuller signal.
    They’ve done really well over the last year& a bit.
    O2 is still pretty trash from what family members say about speeds.
    Some have & are making the move from O2’s networks to Three.

    [Rootmetrics mapping for Cardiff includes Vale of Glamorgan, Caerphilly, Rondda.]

    1. Essa says:

      Hi Michael,
      I just wanted to share my experience. I have currently used 3x network providers, if you count that i used to have Three that is four.

      EE
      Voodafone
      O2
      Three

      For me EE has stood out above and beyond in terms of coverage. Further i can confirm, my experince from the worst network is O2. Three does have decent coverage and maybe not the fast speed but in general i feel the coverage and performence is relative good.

      Currently I am running dual sim with Vodafone and EE.

    2. El Guapo says:

      Essa, interesting. I live in London and Three 5G works perfectly. EE on the other hand, well it often says 5G but when you get 10mbit you wonder if it’s really 5G or it’s lying to you. I see three putting up masts eveywhere. EE on the other hand ? I haven’t seen their 5G roll out increase in a year.

  3. Nigel Jones says:

    I’ve been in various cities with EE, Vodafone, Three (family) sims including London, Bristol, Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Norwich, Aberdeen & have been surprised by just how much better EE is on average. I’ve seen higher peak 5G speeds on Three, and perhaps marginally better coverage indoors on vodafone, but overall EE slams it with multiples of the speeds of the other networks. Three in particular can be a bit flakey with odd issues, whilst vodafone too often has solid 800 Mhz 4G, but zero, or near zero data throughput. EE is pretty much the most reliable and fastest.

    Obviously it depends on where you live & work as there is still a lot of variation

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