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A new RootMetrics report shows that early 5G roll-out brings breakneck speeds in limited availability, with vast promise moving forward.
In what is claimed to be the most authoritative independent testing of 5G networks in the UK to date, download 5G speeds in excess of 450 Mbps have been recorded in the city of Birmingham even though availability of the network is at present somewhat limited.
The tests were carried out for RootMetrics by IHS Markit on the two available 5G networks in the city from Vodafone and EE. The trial formed the first part of the 5G first look Birmingham, UK report, a three-part series offering key data on the promise, potential and real-world performance of 5G networks in the UK. The initial data covers performance in Birmingham, with reports on 5G in Cardiff and London to follow.
During testing, RootMetrics drove 168 miles and tested at 25 indoor locations in Birmingham. In total, its team ran 8,883 tests to paint a comprehensive picture of how consumers and businesses experience 5G in Birmingham. Tests were performed using the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G (EE) and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G (Vodafone), both of which were bought in-store.
Vodafone and EE were measured to have 5G mode median download speeds of 112.2 Mbps and 187.5 Mbps respectively. To put those speeds into context, RootMetrics noted that downloading 600MB file, such as a film, would take 26.6 seconds on EE’s 5G compared to 102.1 seconds on EE’s non-5G mode. EE’s 5G median download speed was nearly four times faster than EE’s non-5G mode median download speed, and Vodafone’s 5G speed was almost twice as fast as its non-5G mode speed.
Maximum download speeds measured were 450.9 Mbps for EE and 366.9 Mbps for Vodafone. While these were slower than some networks measured in the US and Korea – namely Verizon at 1.1 Gbps in Chicago and LG U+ at 902.7 Mbps in Seoul – RootMetrics regarded the Birmingham’s maximums as “incredibly” fast. It did add, though, that while 5G in Birmingham was clearly filled will promise, the test suggested that networks in the UK still need time to mature and develop before users reap the full benefits of 5G.
While only EE and Vodafone had rolled 5G out in Birmingham at the time of testing, the results suggest a good start in terms of accessing 5G, particularly on EE’s network.
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Accessing Vodafone’s 5G could be more challenging in the early stages of deployment. RootMetrics recorded 5G during 51.6% of tests on EE’s network and during 10.8% of tests on Vodafone’s network. EE’s 5G footprint was larger but RootMetrics observed that it was important to note that in early roll-outs, connecting to 5G at relatively low percentages in a city was surprising.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Kevin Hasley, head of product at RootMetrics and executive director of performance benchmarking, said: “We’re at the start of a massive 5G race, as operators, suppliers and phone manufacturers jostle for market position. The initial signs from Birmingham indicate that 5G will bring greater network speeds, lower latency and better reliability for the user.
“Keep in mind that Apple is yet to enter the 5G device market,” he said. “We expect performance only to improve as the networks evolve and more users and use cases emerge.”