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RootMetrics Benchmark Reveals Top UK Mobile Networks for H2 2023

Monday, Jan 29th, 2024 (10:06 am) - Score 2,120
mobile broadband speed test uk

Mobile network analyst firm RootMetrics (Ookla) has published their latest biannual H2 2023 benchmark study of UK mobile networks (4G and 5G) and mobile broadband performance, which once again sees EE (BT) come top against rivals at Vodafone, Three UK and O2 (VMO2). But the picture for 5G performance isn’t so clear-cut.

The latest study made use of the “latest” 5G-enabled Samsung smartphones (model not disclosed) – purchased off the shelf from operator stores – to test both 4G and 5G performance across all four primary operators and 16 of the UK’s most populated metro cities. The team then conducted a total of 634,942 tests, including at hundreds of different locations (788 of which were indoor) and while driving a total of 24,179 miles during the day and night.

The results that are shown below have then been split into several categories (network reliability, speed, data, call and text quality etc.) and each is assigned a score out of 100 (higher numbers = better). In terms of the UK-wide results, EE came top in every single category, while O2 (Virgin Media) were typically sat at the bottom of most categories.

However, it’s also noted that every operator suffered a small decline in their overall scores, at least when compared with the last report six months ago.

Rootmetrics-H2-2023-UK-Mobile-Network-Ranking

Overall Scores for H2 2023 (vs H1 2023)
1. EE – 94.2 (down from 95.9)
2. Vodafone – 90.1 (down from 92)
3. Three UK – 89.3 (down from 90.2)
4. O2 – 86.4 (down from 86.7)

In terms of the average (median) UK download speeds on both 4G and 5G networks combined – EE delivered the strongest data speeds of 68.6Mbps (up from 65.1Mbps at the last report), while Vodafone grew well to hit 34.5Mbps (up from 29.4Mbps), Three UK fell a bit to 32.3Mbps (down from 34.7Mbps) and O2 improved but still scored bottom with 19.9Mbps (down from 15.5Mbps).

However, the picture starts to change when we look specifically at 5G networks, where EE has now taken the fastest crown from Three UK for median download performance. Overall, EE scored 174.1Mbps, while Three UK delivered 165.7Mbps, Vodafone was close behind on 158.3Mbps and sadly O2 put in a dire result of 68.7Mbps.

In terms of 5G availability, all of EE, Three UK, and O2 each posted 5G availability above 52% during the latest UK-wide testing. Three’s 5G availability of 57.6% was actually a tick above that of O2 (54.5%) and EE (52.3%), while Vodafone trailed with 5G availability of 41.9%.

RootMetrics-H2-2023-UK-Mobile-Performance

The RootMetrics’ report only provides bits and pieces of selected information, while we would have preferred to see a bit more detail (e.g. upload performance and latency). The data also seems to be dominated by an urban focus, which gives little weighting for poorer performance in rural areas, but then that is often the caveat with this type of scientific, albeit very manual, testing – there’s not enough data to give a full UK picture.

RootMetrics UK Mobile Performance Review 2H 2023
https://rootmetrics.com/uk-mobile-performance-review-2h-2023

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Mark-Jackson
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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
7 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Jim says:

    If the data wasn’t so urban focused, EE would come out even stronger.

    It’s clear EE have the best network overall by far. They just need to beef up their low band rollout to compete with the others for solid calls and indoor coverage.

    1. Avatar photo man says:

      EE are simply heads and shoulders.

  2. Avatar photo Gareth says:

    Slo2 living up to it’s name as usual. Sad how it went from one of the biggest most used networks (BT/Cellnet) to what it is today.

    No wonder BT didn’t buy it back.

    1. Avatar photo JB says:

      I made the mistake when signing up for Tesco (o2) thinking the coverage will be great after all its formerly BT but how wrong I was. Now I’m stuck in contract until 2025 with next to none indoor signal and poor reception around my area. Certainly no 5g.

  3. Avatar photo Chris says:

    I find the 5G availability strange, I travel quite a lot and have both Voxi and o2. I very rarely see and 5G from o2 and lots from Vodafone! But according to that report o2 has a lot more 5G then Vodafone!! Clearly not where I travel to

  4. Avatar photo Kiddo says:

    I would like to know why O2 is bottom. is it purely spectrum bandwidth or is it more to do with their backhaul?

  5. Avatar photo Gabin says:

    I’m a cheap scate and therefore tend to use Virtual Mobile Networks like Voxi, Giffgaff, as they are cheaper.

    From this point I find EE worst as they do not sell there low band radio frequency to allot of VMN, making there services unreliable due to number of locations without a signal. But amazing performance when you do get a signal.

    Three and VMN is just generally congested all the time, unless your on 5G which has very limited coverage.

    O2 and VMN is good with good 5G coverage. But not amazing speeds but good enough.

    Vodafone and VMN is excellent coverage with average speed speeds. Vertically no 5G. But is the winner as is reliable at around 20Meg, which is enough for me.

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