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London has the UK's best 4G coverage but the slowest speeds

Wednesday, October 5th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

London has the best 4G coverage of anywhere in the UK but is also home to the slowest 4G speeds, a new report has found.

OpenSignal’s State of Mobile Networks report uses crowd-sourced data to measure the performance of the UK’s 3G and 4G networks.

It found that both 3G and 4G signals were easier to find in London but that average download speeds were slower than elsewhere.

Smartphone users with the OpenSignal app experienced an average speed of 18.8Mbps in the capital while users in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the other English regions all measured average speeds above 20Mbps.

The best performing region was Northern Ireland, which recorded an average download speed of 23.3Mbps.

The report suggests that high levels of congestion in London are dragging down its average speeds.

Across the UK as a whole, EE’s 4G network was the fastest with an average download speed of 28Mbps – that’s 3Mbps faster than Three and well ahead of O2 and Vodafone.

But the report describes 4G availability as “lacking” with a signal “difficult to come by” in most parts of the country.

OpenSignal doesn’t measure geographic or population coverage, but rather the proportion of time its users have a 4G signal.


EE, O2 and Vodafone customers had an available 4G connection around two thirds of the time, while Three customers could connect to 4G less than half the time.

4G availability was 69.7% in London and was above 60% in the north east and Yorkshire and the Humber. But in the midlands, east of England and south west it was below 50% and in Wales 4G was only available 35.4% of the time.

OpenSignal found that it is much easier to get a 3G signal. Its testers were able to get a 3G or better signal more than 80% of the time in most regions.

The fastest average 3G connection was on Three’s network, with EE in second place.

OpenSignal’s report used 500m measurements taken from more than 28,000 UK users between 1 July and 31 August. The app runs background tests to measure the real-world experience of those who download it.

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