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Ofcom data speed report relies on old information - Vodafone, O2

Monday, November 17th 2014 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Ofcom’s use of six-month-old data in its research is not giving consumers the “full picture” according to Vodafone.

The regulator last week published its own research into the performance of 3G and 4G networks in five major UK cities.

But a Vodafone spokesperson highlighted that Ofcom’s testing took place six months ago.

They said the results “don’t give consumers a full picture as there were only a small number of tests undertaken, in a small number of cities and only taken in places where the majority of operators had coverage”.

Ofcom measured four metrics – download speeds, upload speeds, web browsing speed and latency – in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow between March and June this year.

It found the average download speed on 4G was more than twice as fast as 3G (15.1Mbps compared to 6.1Mbps) and upload speeds over 4G were more than seven times faster than those on 3G.

EE and O2 were found to have faster than average download and upload speeds on 4G, with Three performing best at web browsing and latency.

The average HTTP download speed for EE on 4G was 18.4Mbps. For O2 this was 15.6Mbps, Vodafone 14.3Mbps and Three 10.7Mbps.

Vodafone said it had analysed Ookla’s Netmetrics data taken from 2.5 million tests carried out between 1 June and 30 September and found its speeds to be “15-53% faster than our three main competitors on all Android and iOS devices connected via 2G, 3G or 4G”.

“What our customers care about is that their chosen service works, is delivered in a timely manner, the delivery quality is consistent and reliable and that annoyances such as buffering do not occur.”

They said the company is investing £1 billion in its UK network and services this year.

“We expect our customers’ experience and our network coverage to continue to get significantly better as the momentum of our Project Spring investment accelerates further.

“We are pleased to see that Ofcom recognises the rapid growth of our 4G rollout to 51% of the UK population.

“We have now brought 4G coverage to over 347 cities and towns as well as thousands of smaller communities, while more than 99% of Londoners are now able to access Vodafone 4G services.”

An O2 spokesperson said its 4G network was launched only 10 months before the end of Ofcom’s survey period.

“The tests were carried out approximately 5 months earlier than our own commissioned survey by Spirent in 20 cities.”

He said the results ranked O2 in first place in a number of cities for measurements including file upload and download speeds, and web browsing.

“With our daily investment of £1.5 million on our network, we’ll continue to roll out 4G as well as completely modernising our 2G and 3G networks, delivering faster speeds and greater coverage enabling our customers to become more digital,” he added.

A spokesman for Ofcom said “Our research tests the difference in performance between 3G and 4G networks, and to do so we had to test in areas where both 3G and 4G signals were available from all four operators.

“While roll-out of 4G networks has been initially focused on more densely populated areas, we expect 4G coverage to reach more rural areas quickly.

“Mobile operators have indicated they intend to match O2’s 98% indoor coverage obligation for 4G services by 2015.”

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