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EE customers flying out of London’s City, Gatwick and Heathrow airports can expect to see the best mobile broadband performance out of the four UK mobile networks, according to analysis from IHS-owned mobile network testing specialist RootMetrics.
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Based on its proprietary algorithms, EE scored best for network performance across all three airports, with Three ranked second at City and Gatwick – ahead of O2 and Vodafone – and Vodafone ranked second at Heathrow, ahead of Three and O2.
RootMetrics’ testers found median download and upload speeds were considerably faster on EE, reaching 27.3Mbps down and 14.2Mbps up at Heathrow, 21.4Mbps up and 18.2Mbps down at Gatwick, and 11Mbps up and 12.8Mbps down at City.
The worst performing operator at every airport was O2, which hit median upload speeds of 6.4Mbps at City, 3Mbps at Gatwick and 3.9Mbps at Heathrow.
This means an EE customer could download a song in approximately three seconds at Heathrow and five seconds at City, or upload a short video – such as a Vine – in four seconds at Heathrow or seven seconds at City. Browsers trying to download a song over O2 could expect it to take somewhere between nine and 41 seconds.
RootMetrics also considered mobile broadband reliability, testing data transfers, email, and web and application performance, and found that Three customers flying through City received the best service, with a perfect RootScore of 100, while EE was rated most reliable at Gatwick and Heathrow, scoring 99.7 points and 98.3 points respectively.
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However, noted RootMetrics, in general there was little to tell between the four operators, with none receiving RootScores of under 90 points.
At the same time, leisure travellers are becoming increasingly important, and tend to make higher demands on social media services and app stores, downloading games for fractious children before boarding, and so on.
“The time before we fly is crucial to tick off business tasks or catch up with friends and family before we go offline for hours,” said RootMetrics European general manager Scott Stonham.
“This unbiased information gives travellers a better idea of the mobile internet performance they should expect while waiting to board, depending on their departure airport.
“Our testing showed that, of the three airports tested, EE customers will generally experience first-class performance, while Three’s customers can expect their smoothest ride at London City.”