EE’s dominance in mobile network quality no longer a given

EE has retained its overall lead as the top-performing mobile network in the country, but is facing increasingly stiff competition from O2, Three and Vodafone

BT-owned mobile network operator EE has retained its overall title as the UK’s top-performing network, but faces very tough competition as its rivals invest heavily in network improvements, according to RootMetrics’ latest Mobile network performance report, which covers the period from January to June 2017.

The report found that mobile performance was split across each of the UK’s four nations – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – and it was only by virtue of its lead in England that EE still emerged as the top network.

RootMetrics named Vodafone as the best-performing network in Northern Ireland, while Three came out on top in Scotland and Wales, and was also found to be the most reliable network nationally.

Scott Stonham, European GM at RootMetrics, said the results showed the increasing competitiveness of the mobile market in the UK this year.

“EE continues to lead the way, but Three and Vodafone are close behind,” he said. “What is clear is that each operator showed strong performance in at least one particular country, while nobody was able to sweep the board at the four-nations level. UK consumers have strong mobile options, depending on how and where they use their devices most.”

Many of the challenges to EE’s dominance have become possible as its rivals have pushed more investment in offering uninterrupted 4G coverage. Although EE still leads in this regard, with a 4G network available 90% of the time across the UK, O2 on 81% and Vodafone on 82% are not far behind, while Three still trails with 67% availability.

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Ian Fogg, senior research director for mobile and telecom at IHS Markit, RootMetrics’ parent organisation, added: “To succeed, mobile operators must secure sufficient radio spectrum and invest in the necessary equipment, sites and operational teams to ensure consumers enjoy fast, reliable mobile broadband.

“With new UK spectrum allocations soon to be auctioned in the run-up to 5G, these performance results provide a snapshot on the competitive balance between the UK mobile operators now, and highlight which operators most need to acquire new spectrum capacity if they are to be a future mobile performance winner.”

RootMetrics measures a number of other criteria besides overall network performance, including call performance, won jointly by Three and Vodafone; network speed and data performance, won by EE; and text performance, won jointly by EE and Vodafone.

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