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EE holds on to top spot in latest RootMetrics UK rankings

Tags: Everything Everywhere, Three (HKG:0013), O2/Telefonica (NYSE:TEF), Vodafone (LON:VOD)

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The race to 4G plays key role in results for all operators

  • EE remains at the top of the heap among UK operators with a great combination of speed and reliability, but all operators showed areas of improvement.
  • 4G rollouts affect the latest results and will continue to be an important factor as network upgrades take hold in metros and expand out.

July 28, 2015: EE retained its position as top-performing operator in the RootMetrics® 1st Half 2015 UK Mobile Network Performance Review, earning the highest Overall RootScore Award (89.4 out of 100), followed by Three (84.7), Vodafone (74.5), and O2 (72.7).

The biannual RootMetrics report is the industry standard for unbiased, comprehensive, and accurate consumer characterisation of major mobile operators' network performance for the UK as a whole, in each of the four UK nations, and in the 16 largest UK metro areas.

Other highlights from the UK-wide results include:

  • EE earned a clean sweep of all six UK RootScore awards including Overall Performance, Network Reliability, Network Speed, Mobile Internet, Call, and Text.
  • Three was a strong performer at the UK level, earning second-place finishes in five of six categories and coming in just behind EE in reliability.
  • Vodafone was shut out from the top UK RootScore Awards at the UK level, but improved its ranking in Overall Performance and moved ahead of Three to rank second in Network Speed.O2 finished last outright or tied for last place in five of six categories on the UK level, although scoring was often close.

Beyond the rankings, the RootMetrics 1st Half 2015 UK Mobile Network Performance Review tells the story of a dynamic, competitive UK mobile market in which the race for 4G coverage plays a strong role. Network improvements had a strong effect on the latest RootMetrics rankings and will continue to influence performance. Some highlights include:

  • EE's expanded 4G footprint contributed to better mobile internet reliability results than in the previous RootMetrics report.
  • Three is feeling the pressure on its speed results at the UK level as other operators push 4G rollouts faster.
  • Vodafone has seen improved speed performance on the metro and UK levels as it rolls out 4G. Continued network investments will likely make it an operator to watch.
  • O2's reliability should improve markedly as its 4G network expands and matures.

"EE is continuing to come out on top for mobile performance, but there is a heated - and often close - battle with the other operators," said Chris Smith, RootMetrics General Manager for Europe. "Our growing reliance on our mobiles means network performance has a direct impact on our daily lives, and consumers deserve a comprehensive, unbiased, real-world picture of performance. From watching video on the go to taking part in Whatsapp conversations, we're on our phones and when our connection is lousy, we notice. We want consumers and network operators to look at this report and use it to inform purchasing decisions and understand the areas where improvements can be made."

Nation-by-Nation Performance

RootMetrics also compared network performance within each of the four UK nations: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Evaluating six categories of performance across four nations leads to 24 total network comparisons. Some highlights:

  • EE outperformed the other operators at the UK-nation level, especially in speed. EE won 21 out of 24 awards outright and shared three awards with Three.
  • Three shared the Mobile Internet RootScore Award with EE in Wales and again showed strength in network reliability, sharing RootScore Awards with EE in that category in Scotland and Wales.
  • With O2 and Vodafone winning no awards in the individual nations of the UK, there is a clear separation in performance levels between EE and Three vs. O2 and Vodafone. That may be due to a lack of widespread 4G footprints for O2 and Vodafone outside of metro areas.

UK Metro Performance

RootMetrics tested performance in the 16 mostpopulous Larger Urban Zones across the UK in six categories each, for 96 total network comparisons. Highlights include:

  • EE again showed excellent performance in metros, with 90 wins or ties. Although EE's call performance dipped slightly, it continues to stand out for its lightning-fast speeds as the only operator to hit the 20 Mbps threshold for median download speeds. Its fastest median download speed, recorded in Belfast, was an impressive 35.7 Mbps, which would allow you to download a song in under two seconds.
  • Three also performed well in metro markets, winning or tying 33 times. The hallmark of Three's network has been excellent reliability and that continued in this round of testing: Three tied EE for the most first-place finishes in the Network Reliability Index and claimed more Call RootScore Awards than any other operator. Whilst Three has been slower to roll out 4G service and its speeds often trail the other networks, it is showing solid improvements in a number of markets. Three's fastest median download speed was 9.5 Mbps, recorded in Bristol. At that speed, you could download a song in five seconds.
  • O2 lost some ground in this round of metro testing, securing 16 awards in the first half of 2015 compared to 20 awards in the second half of 2014, as Three and Vodafone show faster improvement. O2's fastest speed, recorded in Edinburgh, was 13.9 Mbps, which would allow you to download a song in under four seconds.
  • Vodafone won the smallest number of awards, yet increased its tally from 8 to 12 in this round of testing following upgrades to its network. Vodafone's speeds are improving and it recorded its fastest median download speed of 14.9 Mbps in Edinburgh. At that speed, you can download a song in a bit more than three seconds.

Most comprehensive view of UK mobile performance

The RootMetrics 1st Half 2015 UK Mobile Network Performance Review provides consumers with a complete picture of the current mobile landscape in the UK. To compile the most comprehensive scientific study of its kind, RootMetrics collected 1.1 million samples and drove nearly 24,000 miles - the equivalent of driving from Land's End to John o'Groats nearly 28 times - during the first six month of this year.

Tests were conducted around the clock whilst driving, at stationary outdoor locations, and at nearly 1,500 indoor locations. For its first UK-wide report of 2015, RootMetrics expanded its testing to more areas, and the report factors in results from all of RootMetrics' underlying RootScore Reports (Nation, Metro, Venue, Urban Zone, Transit, Retail, and Airport). 

About RootMetrics

RootMetrics® is an independent mobile analytics firm that offers insights into the consumer mobile experience. RootMetrics provides data on mobile network performance to help people make more informed decisions. RootMetrics offers its RootScore® Report series for major UK metro areas, the UK itself, and the four UK nations, as well as its downloadable CoverageMap app. To ensure that RootMetrics testing reflects real-world mobile usage, testing is conducted based on where, when, and how consumers use their smartphones most often.