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EE maintains mobile network leadership in UK

Analyst finds that BT-owned mobile service sweeps board in terms of nationwide network quality through performance, reliability, speed, data, calls and texting

RootMetrics analysis of the UK’s mobile market has shown that EE was the operator to beat in its UK-wide, nation and metro area testing in the second half of 2022, winning each RootScore Award outright, while also earning nearly every possible award across the nations and in major cities.

In its real-world testing, RootMetrics used the latest off-the-shelf Samsung 5G-enabled smartphones purchased from operator stores to test both 4G LTE and 5G performance on the networks of EE, Three UK, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone. Tests were conducted while driving and walking during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors. In the second half of 2022, it performed 635,207 tests across the UK, drove 23,384 miles and tested 799 indoor locations. It added that until 5G reaches a point of ubiquity, looking at results recorded across all network technologies (5G, 4G LTE and any sub-4G technology) paints the most accurate picture of the end-user mobile experience.

The analyst believes that to provide strong service across the entirety of the UK is a tall order, with an operator needing to offer outstanding performance across all the different spaces where consumers use their mobiles, from cities and villages of all sizes, to roadways, rural areas and all the places in-between.

Examining the state of 5G in Britain over the first half of 2022, RootMetrics found the UKs’ mobile industry in fine fettle, highlighting how competition between EE, Three UK, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone was improving the experiences of next-generation network users, with all four of the major UK mobile operators improving the download speeds, reliability and latency of their networks.

Six months later, the analysis revealed that EE ranked first in all seven categories for the third straight time. The BT-owned firm has now won the Overall Score Award outright in every test period dating back to H2 2013, giving EE honours as the UK’s best network for nine years running.

The second half of 2022 also marked the eleventh consecutive test period in which EE ranked first in the categories of overall performance, reliability, speed, as well as data, call and text performance. The analyst noted that EE’s aggregate median download speed of 58.5 Mbps was not only easily fast enough for smooth gaming and video streaming, but it was also more than twice as fast as that of any other operator.

Vodafone was regarded as remaining a strong number-two performer at the UK-wide level. It achieved second-place finishes in six out of seven categories, boosting its rankings in the categories of data and text performance from third in the first half of the year to second by the end, while recording an aggregate median download speed of 23.7 Mbps. Overall, Vodafone’s results in UK-wide testing rated as good, and trailed those of only EE in most categories.

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Three UK was said to have performed well at the UK-wide level in H2 2022, maintaining its second-place rankings for network speed and data performance. In addition to increasing its rankings in the categories of reliability, call performance and text performance, Three UK also registered the second-fastest aggregate median download speed during our UK-wide testing at 28.0 Mbps, trailing that of EE but surpassing those of Virgin Media O2 (14.1 Mbps) and Vodafone.

As Three continues to integrate more and more of the mid-band 5G spectrum it acquired at auction in 2021, the analyst said it could see further improvements to come outside of major cities.

Virgin Media O2’s results remained consistent with those from the first half of 2022. While its rankings declined in five out of seven categories since the first half of 2022, the operator’s scores in those categories were generally similar to its scores from six months ago.

The results suggested the company’s performance didn’t necessarily decline, but rather that other operators improved. Virgin Media O2’s text performance was rated as “especially good”, sharing second place in the category with Three and Vodafone.

RootMetrics predicted that as Virgin Media O2 continued to bolster its 5G network throughout the UK, users should see improvements in major cities, as well as in UK-wide and nation testing.

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