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Opensignal Award Best 4G and 5G UK Mobile Networks for Q1 2022

Wednesday, April 6th, 2022 (12:01 am) - Score 2,976
mobile broadband speed test uk

The latest April 2022 Mobile Network Experience study from Opensignal has measured the 4G and 5G (mobile broadband) performance of all four primary operators – EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three UK – to determine which delivers the best service. Overall, EE wins most of the categories, but Three UK does very well for 5G.

The new report is based on crowd-sourced data gathered from users on hundreds of thousands of devices (Smartphones etc.) between 1st December 2021 and 28th February 2022. The results were then processed to reveal how all of the primary mobile network operators compared across various categories.

The primary study is predominantly focused upon the combined performance of 4G and 5G networks, while we get a second study that just examines 5G connectivity. Overall, EE once again won most of the performance categories in the primary study, but they seem to be losing their edge a bit in 5G, with more awards being shared or won by rivals.

Indeed, Three UK does particularly well on the 5G front – scoring an impressive 204.3Mbps for average download speeds and availability of 8.7% (this reflects the % of time a user spends connected to 5G vs 4G etc.), which shows how quickly they’re catching up and harnessing their large blocks of spectrum; after being late to start their own rollout.

opensignal_uk_mobile_awards_april_2022

We should point out that it’s not the first time we’ve seen Three UK come top for 5G download speeds, which has also been shown by recent studies from Ookla (Speedtest.net). But the difference is much less clear-cut for 5G based upload performance, which is because most 5G networks today are still hobbled by existing 4G infrastructure. The key results are summarised below, both for combined networks and those just for 5G.

Download Speed Experience – 2G/3G/4G/5G
(April 2021 Result in Brackets)

1. EE 45Mbps (39Mbps)
2. Three UK 28.1Mbps (19.3Mbps)
3. Vodafone 22Mbps (21Mbps)
4. O2 17.1Mbps (17.3Mbps)

Download Speeds – 5G

1. Three UK 204.3Mbps (115.9Mbps)
2. EE 129.2Mbps (140Mbps)
3. O2 100.6Mbps (128.9Mbps)
4. Vodafone 92Mbps (103.1Mbps)

Upload Speed Experience – 2G/3G/4G/5G

1. EE 9.4Mbps (9.1Mbps)
2. Vodafone 6.9Mbps (8.1Mbps)
3. Three UK 5.9Mbps (6.8Mbps)
4. O2 5.4Mbps (6.7Mbps)

Upload Speeds – 5G

1. EE 14.7Mbps (14.6Mbps)
2. Three UK 14Mbps (12.7Mbps)
3. Vodafone 13.3Mbps (14.7Mbps)
4. O2 10.3Mbps (10Mbps)

UK Availability % – 2G/3G/4G/5G

1. Three UK 98.9%
2. EE 97.8%
3. Vodafone 96.5%
4. O2 96.2%

UK Availability % – 5G

1. Three UK 8.7% (6.5%)
2. Vodafone 8.1% (4.6%)
3. EE 6.9% (5.5%)
4. O2 6% (3.3%)

Overall, both Vodafone and O2 seem to have lost some of their mojo this time around, although O2 has a history of placing bottom in these studies. But it also seems clear that EE are starting to lose their grip a bit too, as its old position of dominance – in 4G connectivity – is gradually being replaced by a more competitive challenge from rivals in the new 5G era, particularly from Three UK.

However, there are caveats to this sort of study. For example, some operators have better 4G or 5G coverage, lots of spectrum bands and more advanced networks than others. Furthermore, app-based crowd-sourced data can also be impacted by any limitations or locations of the devices or plans being used, which at the same time removes the ability to adopt a common type of hardware and environment to help form a solid testing baseline.

Suffice to say that performance testing like this may not always tell the whole story. But Opensignal are one of the better organisations at analysing such data.

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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
10 Responses
  1. Michael says:

    I always like to see the Root Metrics awards!
    So, Three has had an aggressive roll out of 5G around Cardiff & 4G coverage has improved so much offer the last year/two years.
    5G is fast. For mobile number 2 that is on Vodafone, 5G speeds leave a lot to be desired in places.

  2. Michael says:

    I wouldn’t exactly say there’s caveats to this. All antennas in phones are not equal no… Also this data is from Android phones mostly as iOS still can’t let network mapping apps run in the background.
    Yes there’s different bands meaning different levels of coverage, even if they share the same mast.
    But isn’t that the point… To measure how the MNOs make use of what they have & how well they deploy it…
    Besides, I’m happy EE is starting to be knocked off their top spot!

  3. Bent says:

    ee crap anyway and there sim only contracts are overpriced three much cheaper yes they have got poor 4g coverage but it still truly unlimited sim only unlike ee and 02 fastest 5g as well on three .

  4. Anuraj says:

    Using EE last 18 months on iPhone 12.

    4g & 5g coverage is VERY good. Only problem with EE is voice calls quality and drains battery quickly comparing Vodafone. Most of the the time 1 or 2 bars.

    EE need to rolls out 700mhz sooner to sort voice quality issues. Hard to get signal inside buildings and offices.

    Vodafone using lower bands for 4g ( 800 & 900 mhz ) most of the time indoor coverage is very good.

    Anyone else having voice quality issues with EE

    1. James says:

      Agreed. It’s the reason I left EE for VF in June last year. Call quality was poor. It either constantly dropped or sounded robotic etc.

    2. rbgb says:

      Agree the voice quality on EE is very poor compared with Vodafone

  5. Sam B says:

    I’m surprised EE won 5G upload speed. I honestly struggle to get more than 1Mbps upload on 5G in some areas I’ve tested!

  6. Heathiopian says:

    To be fair we have improved loads in my area recently and I haven’t had any issues personally with voice calls on their 4g or 5g network

  7. Nigel Jones says:

    My OH is on 3, I have EE (personal) and Vodafone (work). When travelling around, no question EE is the most consistent. Not perfect, but better 4G & 5G availability for us, and usually hugely better speeds. The difference has been quite astounding. Three is regularly dismal, even on 5G. These are on newish phones – iPhone 12/13, from south coast, London, West Country, Scotland

    1. Anuraj says:

      What about vodafone ??

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