5G service race heating up in four UK cities, RootMetrics research shows
The June 5G Scorecard from RootMetrics by IHS Markit, a global provider of mobile network performance benchmarking, has revealed that 5G competition among the UK’s four main network providers is intensifying.
Testing carried out in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Nottingham has shown that while Vodafone and O2 delivered strong everyday 5G median download speeds in 1H 2021, EE is still the provider when it comes to providing the key combination of consistently broad availability plus fast speeds for UK mobile users.
To track the progress of 5G as it expands nationwide, RootMetrics tests network performance in 16 of the UK’s most populated cities every six months. This is the second instalment of RootMetrics’ new monthly 5G Scorecards, offering a snapshot of 5G performance across four recently tested cities. The 5G Scorecards focus on “Everyday 5G” performance, a combination of results recorded on 5G-only and 5G “mixed mode,” the increasingly common user behaviour of switching between 5G and 4G LTE during the same data task. By combining the two 5G possibilities, everyday 5G results reflect the most typical 5G experience in the UK.
EE offers strong combination of consistently broad everyday 5G availability plus fast speed
Although Vodafone earned honours for clocking the everyday 5G median download speed of any operator in the June 5G Scorecard at 192.2 Mbps in Glasgow, EE continues to deliver well on the crucial combination of availability plus speed. EE posted the highest everyday 5G availability in all four cities tested, and its everyday 5G median download speeds were consistently strong. EE’s “slowest” speed clocked in at a solid 113.5 Mbps in Glasgow, while its fastest everyday 5G median download speed was 135.3 Mbps in Cardiff. In short, EE customers should find both widespread access to 5G plus fast speeds in all four cities featured in the June 5G Scorecard.
O2 (now Virgin Median O2) offered somewhat of a mixed bag. O2 users should be pleased with the operator’s everyday 5G speeds, with the provider clocking the fastest everyday 5G median download speed in Edinburgh at 163.3 Mbps, along with good speeds in the other cities tested. While O2’s everyday 5G availability had room for improvement in both Glasgow (11.9%) and Nottingham (17.1%), the good news is that O2 showed an expanded 5G footprint since 2H 2020.
While Three recorded the slowest everyday 5G median download speeds in all four cities, Three’s 5G speeds were still much faster than its overall speeds across all network technologies. Three’s fastest everyday 5G median download speed in the June 5G Scorecard was recorded in Glasgow at 92.2 Mbps, whereas EE, O2, and Vodafone all posted everyday 5G median download speeds above 100 Mbps in all four cities. Three’s highest everyday 5G availability, meanwhile, was 36.0% in Nottingham, which was higher than that of O2 in the city (17.1%) but not nearly as high as EE’s 64.0%. That said, Three showed improved everyday 5G availability in all four cities since 2H 2020.
Although RootMetrics didn’t record any 5G for Vodafone in Nottingham, the operator performed well in the three cities where it did offer 5G. Vodafone has also shown encouraging progress and improvements since the second half of 2020. In fact, Vodafone’s everyday 5G availability and median download speeds improved in all three of its cities with 5G since 2H 2020. Vodafone registered particularly notable gains in Cardiff: Vodafone’s everyday 5G availability in Cardiff nearly doubled since 2H 2020, moving from 23.4% to 44.2%, while its everyday 5G median download speed jumped from 106.9 Mbps to a strong 140.2 Mbps in 1H 2021, the fastest in the city.
Commenting on the June 5G Scorecard, Patrick Linder, chief marketing officer, RootMetrics, says, “The best 5G experience is built on both strong availability and fast speeds—not just one or the other. The good news is that all four providers have improved their everyday 5G availability since our previous round of testing, and 5G speeds are also steadily climbing.