EE leads latest Opensignal UK mobile performance report

UK’s largest operator tops UK mobile quality survey measuring performance across four key use cases

Hot on the heels of being confirmed by RootMetrics as the UK’s leading operator for overall network performance, BT-owned EE has scooped a similar award from mobile experience analyst Opensignal.

The bottom-line findings in Opensignal’s study were that in 16 out of the 17 cities researched, EE users observed an excellent video experience, while the same was only true for O2 and Vodafone users in Sheffield and Slough, respectively. In most of the cities studied, Three, O2 and Vodafone users enjoyed a very good video experience, although Three users in Bristol and Hull had to settle for a good video experience.

EE was again the victor in the average overall download speeds observed by users in the UK, and its lead over second-placed Vodafone has risen from the 11.6Mbps (50.3%) seen in Opensignal’s previous report to 14.6Mbps (71.4%). However, the analyst said the main cause of this rise was a 2.6Mbps (11.4%) drop in the average overall download speeds observed by Vodafone users, rather than the 0.4Mbps increase seen by their EE counterparts, which took its score to what was described as an “impressive” 35Mbps.

The Opensignal survey looked at four key performance criteria – quality in video and gaming, download speed and upload speed – in 17 population centres across the UK. In terms of the former, it examined the average video experience of Opensignal users on 3G and 4G networks for each operator.

The methodology involved measuring real-world video streams and used an ITU-based approach for determining video quality. The metric calculation took picture quality, video loading time and stall rate into account.

Such calculations have become increasingly important since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, when mobile use of business video applications such as Zoom and other conferencing and collaboration applications has spiked.

EE has now held Opensignal’s video experience award for four reports in a row, this time achieving a video experience score of 74.2 out of 100. O2 has taken over second place from Vodafone since the last report, while EE’s lead over O2 was 1.8 points higher than its lead over Vodafone for this measure of the mobile experience last time round.

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Yet Opensignal indicated that not everything has gone EE’s way. The operator has dropped down a category: from excellent (75 or above) to very good (65-75), due to a 1.4-point drop in its score. As a consequence, EE is now on an even footing with its rivals, all of which also have been placed in the very good category.

Overall, EE users observed average download speeds above 40Mbps in 14 cities, while Vodafone did not achieve a download speed experience score of 40Mbps or higher in any of the 17 cities. Users of Three’s network experienced average download speeds below 20Mbps in four cities – Hull, London, Bristol and Belfast – while the same was true for O2 users in seven cities.

Again, with the increased use of mobile video conferencing applications due to the Covid-19 pandemic, upload capability has been particularly crucial to mobile users, as any user of a Zoom or Teams conference could attest. In this regard, Opensignal found that although EE has now won the upload speed experience award for the fourth time in a row, its lead has slipped substantially since the last report.

The average overall upload speeds observed by EE users fell by 0.9Mbps (9.8%), while their counterparts on Vodafone saw theirs fall by a more modest 0.5Mbps (6.1%). Opensignal said these changes were enough to cut EE’s lead by 30%, reducing it to just over 1Mbps for this measure of the mobile network experience.

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