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RootMetrics Study Finds Improvement in UK Mobile Call Quality

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022 (12:25 pm) - Score 984
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Mobile testing firm RootMetrics, which is owned by Ookla (here), has today published the results from their new research into UK mobile calling (voice) performance and trends, which claims that consumers are experiencing “outstanding mobile call performance that’s continued to improve over time“.

Using a mobile phone for calling is expected to become increasingly important as Openreach retires their older network of analogue copper phone (PSTN) services by December 2025. As a result of that transition, many consumers may elect to only use their fixed line connections for broadband and others will adoption IP based (VoIP) style alternatives, which aren’t as dependable during power cuts.

Suffice to say that it helps to know how effective mobile phones actually are, since many of us will soon become more dependent upon them than we already are. In that sense, RootMetrics’ new Mobile Call Trends Report found a clear improvement in various areas, such as dropped call rates and blocks calls.

In addition, it’s noted that emergency service calls in the UK are given the highest priority by all mobile network operators – EE (BT), O2 (VMO2), Vodafone and Three UK, so even users with poor coverage should see their handset automatically roam to the operator offering the best coverage in that area to ensure calls go through. The catch being that this won’t help if none of the operators are present in your area.

Summary of Key Results

➤ Only 1% of calls were dropped during UK-wide testing in 2H 2021, which is an improvement from the 1.4% recorded in 1H 2018

➤ Blocked call rates have fallen from over 4.3% in 2017 to just 1.7% in 2021.

➤ Call setup times are over twice as fast as they were in 2017, with users seeing calls connect in 2.2 seconds on average in 2021 (down from 4.9 seconds five years ago).

➤ Call reliability in major cities was even better, with just 0.6% of calls being either dropped or blocked in 2021.

Much of this improvement is down to the increased use of 4G based Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) technology from all major UK operators. VoLTE has several benefits, including faster call setup times and better call reliability in general. For example, in 1H 2018, with VoLTE usage at 55.7%, average call setup times were at 3.9 seconds, but once VoLTE usage began exceeding 85% (starting in 2019), call setup times have stayed below 2.8 seconds.

We should point out that VoLTE may eventually become the only way to make mobile calls once older 2G and 3G networks are shut off in the coming years. However, as 5G continues to evolve and standalone 5G networks become the norm, the new Voice over 5G (VoNR) technology may well replace VoLTE as the default mobile call experience.

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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
8 Responses
  1. Steve says:

    Sadly not my experience on Three in parts of Dorset. I randomly get a chirp/burst of static mid call them 5 seconds or so latency gets added in one direction for the remainder of the call..

    1. Gareth says:

      My Dad is on Three and I’m on Vodafone in the same house. His calls are always breaking up and he has to move around the house.

      I don’t have the problem on Vodafone.

      Strangely, he gets good 4G/5G speeds but terrible call quality. I don’t get great speeds on Vodafone but good call quality. Seems you can’t have both LOL

    2. Zathan says:

      This happens to me as well, in Cheshire, its been going on for over a year with no fix.

  2. Anuraj says:

    EE voice quality very bad and calls drops more often in London. Most of the time 2 bars signal and drains batteries comparing 02/vodafone.

  3. James says:

    Seems to be focusing on the calls dropping/blocked aspect, rather than the actual quality of the call itself.

    Voice quality at the minute on certain networks is horrendous. *Looks at EE*

    1. Anuraj says:

      Which network ?

      EE changed sim twice and I have changed iPhone 12 twice and my house located less than 50 meters from latest mast still voice quality terrible and 2 bars signal most of the time and drains batteries.

  4. Daniel says:

    O2 call quality is awful in my area. A string Telephone would work better. The speeds are awful too.

  5. Skalamanga says:

    I’m on Vodafone and get full signal strength indoors at home. Call quality is abysmal, as is data which frequently drops completely and is often below 1mbps.

    200m away, I connect to a different cell tower and get excellent service. I’ve passed this on to Vodafone but they just say nothing is wrong.

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