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Ofcom: EE is the best 4G network in five UK cities

Thursday, March 31st 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

EE’s mobile broadband network has performed best in a series of tests carried out by Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator carried out mobile network tests in five UK cities – Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London and Norwich – in November and December last year.

Its Smartphone Cities report, published today, compares the performance of EE, O2, Three and Vodafone’s 4G networks across a range of measurements.

Ofcom found the average download speed across all four networks to be 17Mbps – almost three times faster than the average 3G download speed (6Mbps).

EE achieved the fastest average download speed at 20Mbps, followed by Three at 15Mbps and Vodafone at 12Mbps. O2 was the slowest at 10Mbps.

EE’s network also gave the most consistent download speed performance, delivering speeds of at least 2Mbps in 92% of its tests.

This compared to 87% for Three, 82% for Vodafone and 69% for O2.

EE also managed the fastest average upload speed (20Mbps), with Three in second place with 12Mbps and Vodafone and O2 on 10Mbps.

Ofcom tested web-browsing speeds by measuring how long it took to load the BBC homepage. The page took five seconds to load on EE’s network compared to six seconds for all the other operators.

The BBC homepage failed to load 11% of the time on O2 and 9% of the time on Vodafone. Three’s failure rate was 5% and EE’s was 2%.

To test the quality of video streaming across the four networks, Ofcom streamed the trailer for the James Bond film Spectre on YouTube.

The trailer successfully streamed in HD in 97% of attempts on EE. This compared to 87% on Three, 86% on Vodafone and 85% on O2.


As well as outperforming its rivals on mobile broadband tests, EE also proved to be the most reliable network for calls.

99% of calls to a landline using EE’s network were completed successfully without the call dropping unexpectedly, compared to 98% on the other three networks.

Unveiling its report this morning, Ofcom said its study was intended to “capture a snapshot of real-world service quality levels for 4G networks” and was not an exhaustive analysis of mobile networks’ performance.

The regulator added that consumers should take into account price, customer service, contract terms and handset choice as well as network performance.

It also encouraged consumers to check the mobile coverage in their area using its mobile and broadband checker.

“This interactive map is part of our work to arm people and businesses with high-quality, accessible information, helping them make informed decisions about their communications services,” said CEO Sharon White.

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