UK 5G availability grows only slowly but network speeds gain pace | Mobile | News | Rapid TV News
By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our privacy policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them. [Close]
Research by mobile testing specialist RootMetrics by IHS Markit has revealed that by the end of the second half of 2020, 5G in the UK is fast and its speeds have increased since initial deployments and speeds are likely to increase further even though availability remains an issue.
THREE 5G 22Dec2020
The mobile network performance tester’s latest 5G in the UK report noted that as the Covid pandemic has underlined the importance of fast and reliable mobile connectivity, especially with increased numbers using their mobiles for remote learning and working, the UK’s mobile nets have been provided to be fundamentally robust with the nascent 5G infrastructure offering faster speed if not being universal over the last year.

The results of the study showed that overall BT-owned EE’s offered the highest 5G availability in 15 of the 16 cities tested with consistently fast 5G speeds. 5G performance was strong in general, and EE’s 5G availability was over 25% in 12 cities, what the study said was ‘easily’ the most of any operator. In addition, EE was the only operator to record 5G median download speeds above 100 Mbps in every city tested.

Noting that as end users would not access 5G all the time, RootMetrics said testing EE’s overall median download speeds across all network technologies (5G and 4G LTE) offers a more accurate picture of consumers’ real-world experience and thus found across all technology types, EE was the only operator whose median download speeds surpassed 30 Mbps in all 16 cities, and in 12 of those markets it registered speeds above 50 Mbps, by far the most of any operator. RootMetrics added that if EE users were unable to access 5G in a particular area, they should nevertheless be able to rapidly download or stream content.

Telefónica’s O2 5G network's median download speeds were said to be strong, clocking in at 100 Mbps or above in 10 of those cities. However, O2 was the only operator which failed to register 5G availability above 25% in any city. Moreover, the majority of O2’s overall median download speeds were less than 30 Mbps, and O2 was the only provider to register overall median download speeds under 10 Mbps in any city. While it said that O2’s 5G was clearly fast, RootMetrics observed that its relatively low availability was likely to negatively impact the end-user experience.

Three UK’s 5G footprint was seen to have improved in the second half of the year but 5G availability was comparatively low, surpassing 25% in just two cities. Speeds were generally positive, though. Three didn’t register 5G median download speeds of 100 Mbps or faster in as many cities as the other providers, seven in total, but its “slowest” 5G speed was what RootMetrics called a still “robust” 79.1 Mbps. In terms of overall speed, Three’s results were broadly in line with those from the first half of 2020.

Vodafone’s 5G speed was rated as rapid across the UK in general, and “outstanding” in London where its 216.6 Mbps was the highest 5G median download speed of all four providers in any of the 16 cities tested. However, apart from offering the highest 5G availability in Liverpool at 44.0%, RootMetrics did add that Vodafone’s 5G availability showed room for improvement. Vodafone was one of only two operators to provide overall median download speeds faster than 50 Mbps in any city (two total). The carrier also showed strong results at the slower end of the speed spectrum, registering overall speeds between 10-20 Mbps in four fewer cities than it did in 1H 2020.