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The latest bi-annual UK mobile performance review by RootMetrics has shown that as competition among UK mobile network operators heated up, performance and availability saw significant improvement in the second half of 2023.
The UK mobile performance review 2H 2023 was based on 634,942 tests conducted across the UK’s four nations and 16 major metropolitan areas, using the latest Samsung 5G-enabled handsets sold by retailers to test both 4G LTE and 5G performance on the networks of EE, Three, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone. Tests took place during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, covering 24,179 miles and 788 indoor locations.
Testing for the first half of 2023 showed the momentum in service improvement carried out by providers. All four 5G operators registered faster median download speeds in most of the 16 cities RootMetrics tested than those recorded in the second half of 2022. While no clear 5G leader surfaced from the latest testing in H1 2023, RootMetrics said consumers in the UK were the clear winners to emerge from continued competition in the market.
This improvement continued. Among the key findings was that the service provider offering the fastest 5G experience hangs in the balance as competition intensified during 2023 as the study could not pinpoint a single provider with a clear lead in this regard. Despite no clear winner for 5G speed, 5G median download speeds were fast across the board for all four operators in UK-wide testing – primarily over 150 Mbps – with EE’s 5G median download speed of 174.1 Mbps the fastest among all operators.
RootMetrics found that Three UK surpassed EE in providing the strongest combination of 5G availability and 5G performance in the UK, and was awarded Best 5G honours. Three UK was the only operator whose RootScore Award total improved in major cities, overtaking Vodafone to win the second most Metro Area RootScore Awards.
EE won or shared every UK-wide RootScore Award in H2 2023, including its 21st consecutive UK Overall RootScore Award. While including ties, the operator was also awarded 28 Nation RootScore Awards out of 28 total opportunities. RootMetrics also showed that EE also held a commanding lead in major cities, as EE’s total of 109 Metro Area RootScore Awards was over twice as many as that of any other operator.
Vodafone was perhaps the most improved operator, posting second-place finishes in six out of seven performance categories in H2 2023, and the operator’s ranking in the Text RootScore category improved from a three-way tie for second place in H1 2023 to a shared victory with EE in H2 2023. Vodafone continued its trend of showing improved 5G availability and speed results in the second half of 2023. Vodafone’s was the only network in the UK to post 5G median download speeds of at least 100 Mbps in all 16 cities tested.
RootMetrics identified Virgin Media O2 as the only operator to see very little change in its UK-wide rankings, with RootScores largely similar to those from the first half of the year. The exception was in the Text RootScore category, where Virgin Media O2’s ranking dropped from second place in H1 2023 to third in H2 2023, behind Vodafone and EE. Virgin Media O2 registered faster speeds and better 5G availability in major cities and won or shared Text RootScore Awards in 12 of the 16 cities RootMetrics tested.
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