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Vodafone is emerging as a serious challenger to EE in terms of quality of network experience in central London, according to statistics released by mobile analytics company RootMetrics.
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The analyst firm’s latest report, London Urban Experience, provides its most detailed look so far at mobile connectivity in London, testing results from seven core districts, sports venues, airports, train stations and shopping malls.
Across the seven districts making up what RootMetrics terms the London Urban Zone – the most densely populated areas of the city – it found that EE and Vodafone were tied on overall performance. EE was ahead in network reliability and mobile internet performance, while Vodafone was ahead on network speed and call performance, with EE having double the call failure rate as Vodafone.
RootMetrics testers conducted 60,000 tests – 50% of them indoors – to build up a picture of mobile performance in Bloomsbury, Canary Wharf, Chelsea, the City, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Westminster.
It said reliability across these districts was generally solid and consumers could expect smooth service in most situations.
The overall results, with EE on top or tied in 15 out of 19 awards, and Vodafone on top or tied in seven, provide a highly detailed view of connectivity in the capital that goes somewhat against RootMetrics’ previous assessment of the city, in which EE won or shared every award.
This would seem to suggest network quality is far more variable in London when examined more closely. It also reveals Vodafone is able to offer real competition to EE, which as a general rule emerges top in most RootMetrics reports.
“London is one of the most densely populated cities in the world and this report gives a scientific indication of how likely you are to enjoy solid mobile performance in some of its busiest locations,” said RootMetrics director of international strategic accounts Scott Stonham.
“A good mobile service is a vital part of a city’s basic infrastructure. While we can achieve good performance across the capital, our data shows networks have some room for improvement when handling demand in large venues.”
Arsenal top for connectivity
In further testing conducted at some of London’s biggest venues, EE claimed two of three awards and was found to work best at Wembley and the Emirates Stadium, but less well at the O2 Arena, where ironically, Vodafone was found to be the best performer.
For sports fans keen to share photos of the action on social media, EE users attending Arsenal games at the Emirates received a median upload speed of 9.9Mbps, allowing a 4Mb photo to be uploaded in four seconds, while Three users at Wembley received barely 0.2Mbps.
At the three venues tested, the ability to make a connection and stay connected until the mobile task, call or text was complete was found to be a major problem for the operators. Only Vodafone was able to provide excellent reliability once connected at the Emirates and while connecting and staying connected at the O2 Arena. EE and O2 performed well once connected at Wembley and the O2 Arena, but struggled in reliability at the Emirates. Three failed to achieve an excellent score anywhere.
RootMetrics’ testers also tested London’s major train stations, with EE performing best at Euston, London Bridge and Waterloo, Vodafone top at Liverpool Street and both operators tied at Victoria. EE users stranded during the building works at London Bridge were able to keep themselves amused with median download speeds of 32.2Mbps, while passengers on Vodafone got the fastest downloads at Liverpool Street and Waterloo.
At London’s major shopping centres, Vodafone and EE tied again for overall performance at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush, while EE claimed Westfield’s Stratford City branch outright. All the operators were found to be reasonably reliable at Westfield Stratford City.