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Ofcom publishes UK 3G and 4G broadband speed research

by Mark Tyson on 14 November 2014, 14:05

Tags: Ofcom, PC

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As all four of the UK's major mobile network operators (MNOs) have had time for their 4G services to normalise and grow Ofcom has undertaken research to assess the state of the market. It has conducted this market research (also covering 3G service) to help in "providing consumers with the information required to make informed choices," when choosing mobile broadband. The report compares MVOs EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. The testing took place in five cities between March and June 2014: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Over 210,000 individual tests and measurements were made by Ofcom's specialist spectrum engineering teams.

Filling in some history; EE set up the UK's first commercially available 4G network in the autumn of 2012. Vodafone and O2 followed with their 4G services in summer 2013 and Three only launched its 4G services in March this year. Ofcom notes that all four MNOs are 'rapidly' deploying more 4G coverage. At the time of the research outdoor 4G coverage from at least one MNO was said to be on offer to around three-quarters of UK premises.

Ofcom says that its tests were done using unmodified and unbranded publicly available smartphones in the period from March to June 2014. Both 3G and 4G services were tested and rated. Measurements were noted for four metrics; HTTP downloads, HTTP uploads, web browsing speed and latency. It didn't assess 3G and 4G UK coverage during this research measurement process.

Key findings of the Ofcom research include:

  • 4G networks currently perform much better than 3G networks
  • EE recorded higher download and upload speeds on 4G, while Three performed best at web browsing and latency

I have screenshotted the most telling graphics from the lengthy report (download the PDF here). Please click the small images below to zoom into the charts.

 

Speeds by provider

 

Speeds by location

 

Web page loading times by provider

 

Provider coverage

 

An update to the above report is planned for Q2 2015 based upon testing to take place shortly, in Q4 2014.



HEXUS Forums :: 15 Comments

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Good to see that it is not just me thinking Vodafone have terrible coverage, that looks like 87% coverage in cities! Out in the wild it is much worse!
Interesting that 3 may not have the highest speeds, but seems to have the best page loading times
That's some pretty interesting information.

I was in a business meeting earlier and we needed some printing done upstairs and brought down. Since we're having new phone hardware put in he reached for his mobile but it had died so he borrowed mine to do the required calling. I'm on 3, purely because it was the cheapest for unlimited data. We started talking about my phone (he has an iPhone 5S, mine is One m7) and then eventually network. He is on EE and like I said I'm on 3. He started banging on about how I should switch over for the speed “it's double-fast 4g” and the like. When I said I pay roughly half of what he does for more allowance he just reiterated the whole double fast 4g thing. Also, EE just couldn't fulfil my requirements with a reasonable bill ( at the time, I hear it's a lot different now). I can go through more than 30gb a month (through youtube, crunchyroll and google music) and at the time there largest bundle was 10gb I believe.

What was interesting though was that I was defending my network and he his, but if you ever hear people talking about being on Vodafone or o2 it's always the other way around.

Opinions people?
I'm on Three, because it's 20 quid a month for uncapped 4G (Plus 4GB of tethering). Much better value than all the other networks.

I just hope the government manages to push through the national roaming. I'm not too confident in this happening though, they'll probably be blackmailed into submission via party donations (or cuts in donations) by people with interests in the telecoms sector.
Very true Jowsey, I would never defend Vodafone's terrible coverage or speed, just like I would never defend their completely incompetent Indian call centre (no disrespect to the people but its not their first language and they definitely struggle to understand a lot of the questions they get asked)