EE to the fore as 5G continues to expand across UK networks | Mobile | News | Rapid TV News
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A RootMetrics study has found that intensifying competition among the UK’s mobile operators has seen 5G proliferate with EE the standout operator whether across the UK as a whole, at the national level or within major cities.
Three UK 5G. 2Dec2020jpg
In its testing of mobile networks in the first half of 2021, the 1H 2021 Mobile Performance in Review report. RootMetrics carried out more than 600,000 tests in 16 cities and over 750 locations across the country. In its analysis the company found fundamentally that while the BT-owned mobile operator remained the operator to beat across all levels of testing, Vodafone improved in multiple areas and Virgin Media O2 ranked first in a performance category at the UK-wide level for the very first time.

Winning awards for overall performance, reliability, speed, plus data, call and text performance, EE was also found to be very strong in metropolitan areas, providing users across the UK with great service in general. EE delivered the fastest median download speed across all network technologies in every city, while offering what was described as "impressive" Everyday 5G availability and speeds. In short, EE users should be able to access content very quickly, especially when on 5G.

The Three network was found to have delivered particularly good text results during RootMetrics testing with speeds improved since the second half of 2020. Three delivered median download speeds above 30 Mbps in three cities in the first half of 2021, a jump from zero in the previous six-month period. Three’s lower-end speeds improved as well. In the second half of 2020, for instance, Three recorded median download speeds below 20 Mbps in 13 out of 16 cities. This time, however, that number improved to four. In effect, said RootMetrics, Three’s users should see faster speeds compared to those in at the end 2020 in applications such as content and entertainment.

Newly merged Virgin Media O2 was found to have showed strong improvements in general. The operator was regarded as having performed particularly well in the network accessibility category, with Virgin Media O2 winning the Network Accessibility RootScore Award in UK-wide testing, its first-ever award at the UK-wide level. Virgin Media O2 also took home the most accessibility awards in nation testing (two across the four nations of the UK), while winning or sharing awards for accessibility in 11 out of 16 cities.

The operator also improved its rankings in UK-wide testing in the categories of overall performance, network reliability and call performance. Virgin Media O2 also delivered fast overall median download speeds in most cities, and its Everyday 5G median download speeds were particularly strong, providing its users with fast file downloads and smooth streaming, among other things. Although RootMetrics said it was too early to predict what the recent merger will do for its overall network performance, the operator has shown significant momentum since H2 2020.

RootMetrics believes that Vodafone customers will be pleased to learn that the operator showed good progress in UK-wide testing in the first half of 2021, taking home three UK RootScore Awards, up from one in the analysis for the second half of 2020. Vodafone tied for first with EE for network reliability, call performance and text performance. The analyst said the first two results will be particularly welcome for users who might be working on the move as they return to the office. Vodafone also performed well in major cities, delivering fast speeds and excellent reliability, as well as a better Everyday 5G experience compared to what RootMetrics found in 2H 2020.

Vodafone’s 5G was especially strong in Glasgow, where the operator clocked the fastest Everyday 5G median download speed of any operator in H1 2021 at 192.2 Mbps. At that speed, RootMetrics calculated that end users could download a 600 MB video from Netflix in less than 30 seconds.

“In the first half of 2021, we saw an already dynamic mobile landscape in the UK continue to evolve and improve. End users will be pleased to see all four main operators improving their performance, particularly when it comes to 5G availability and speed,” said Patrick Linder, chief marketing officer at RootMetrics by IHS Markit Commenting on the results of 1H 2021 Mobile Performance in Review report.

“With the availability of 5G continuing to grow and all four major operators providing users with Everyday 5G median download speeds above 100 Mbps in nearly every city we tested, the providers are clearly making good progress in terms of delivering the key combination of both widespread availability plus fast speeds. While EE was the clear standout in the first half of the year, the improvements we saw from the other operators shouldn’t be overlooked. As the competitive landscape becomes more intense and level over time, end users should continue to benefit from better mobile performance.”