EE and Vodafone continue to lead the way, as O2 slumps to last place in the latest UK rankings
EE was voted the best mobile network operator in the UK across all 6 categories of the latest RootMetrics report. The report ranks each operator for speed, reliability, text, call, data and overall service, with over half a million data points compiled from 648 locations across the UK.
EE emerged victorious in all six of the categories, in RootMetrics' Review of the Mobile Landscape for H1 2019. Vodafone consolidated its position in second place, while Three saw improvements in its network speed and availability levels. O2 struggled in the tests and came last in the majority of the six categories.
It was smooth sailing through calm waters for EE, as the UK's biggest mobile network operator (MNO) came top in all six of the categories. EE's aggregated download speed of 37.6Mbps across the UK was by far the quickest of any operator. EE also scored very highly in network reliability, obtaining a score of 97.5/100.
The first half of 2019 saw EE launch the UK's first 5G network, but it continued to excel in its 4G network performance.
“Delivering the best mobile experience for our customers right across the UK is our top priority. Being recognised as the UK’s best network for the sixth year running reflects our continued investment in keeping our customers connected to the things that matter most, whether that’s continuing to roll out 4G to even more places or being the first to bring 5G to the busiest places across the UK,” Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer business, told Total Telecom.
Vodafone consolidated its position as the UK's second-best performing network, during the first half of 2019. Vodafone also launched its 5G networks in H1 2019 and continued to invest in its 4G infrastructure. Vodafone delivered an aggregated median download speed of 21.7 Mbps, someway behind EE but considerably ahead of Three and O2.
Vodafone tied with EE for first place in the text category, being awarded a score of 99.2/100.
The first half of 2019 was a monumental period for Vodafone – with the company becoming one of the first telcos in Europe to launch 5G and acquiring a string of Liberty Global's assets in Eastern Europe. Vodafone will expect to use both of these achievements as a springboard to grow its offering across Europe in the near to mid-term future.
As befits the name, Three came third in the majority of the categories (5 out of 6). The rankings actually belie a relatively strong performance from Three during the first half of 2019. Three only managed an aggregated median download speed of 13.6Mbps but still scored well for network reliability, attaining a score of 95.7/100.
Three will be hoping to use 5G as a springboard to climb the UK's network rankings. For 4G, Three has been constrained by its spectrum allocation. However, Three is the only UK operator to hold a 100MHz block of contiguous C-Band spectrum, giving it a decided advantage over its competitors.
Earlier this year, Three began the process of moving its existing 4G customers across to its fully virtualised, 5G ready, cloud core. Three expects to complete customer migration in the second half of 2019, which should boost speeds on its 4G networks and ease the transition to 5G.
O2 came out the bottom of the pile in 5 out of 6 categories, scraping a third-placed finish in the text category. The RootMetric's report showed that O2's performance is not necessarily declining, but that all three of the other MNOs are improving, while O2's performance remains consistent.
With a 4G average download speed of just 11.1Mbps, O2's networks were the slowest and least reliable in the UK.
O2's parent company, Telefonica, spent most of 2018 telling anyone who would listen that non-stand alone 5G wasn't worth bothering with and that it intended to reserve its efforts for full stand-alone 5G in 2020/2021. O2 has had to revise its thinking on 5G and has since announced that it will launch NSA 5G in the 4 capitals of the UK's home nations later this year. Inexplicably, O2 seems to have been caught on the hop with 5G and their rollout plans for 2019 seem decidedly apathetic. O2 recently signed a network sharing agreement with Vodafone to expedite its 5G rollout in the UK – in a move which could help O2 step up its plans for 5G in the UK.
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