Network testing and consultancy firm P3 has published a UK mobile benchmarking report ranking EE, aided by its strong data service, first. Three came second, although it won in the voice category. O2 was marginally ahead of last-placed Vodafone.
P3 said the testing on the operators’ networks in big cities, towns and connecting routes was conducted by using high-tech measurement equipment, and the process was designed to push the networks to the limit.
Not surprisingly, the results showed network services in larger metropolitan areas are much better than in smaller cities. On a pan-European scale, the report said “all UK networks have significant potential to further improve their service quality and performance.”
The report showed all operators have good data service stability in urban areas but each had different strengths and weaknesses. Vodafone and O2 had the best browsing results, while EE apparently scored best in YouTube performance also achieving the highest upload and download speeds. Three scored based in voice, with EE at second place followed by Vodafone and O2.
“There have been numerous benchmark tests carried out in the UK this year, and there is a clear trend – EE is number one,” a jubilant EE spokesperson told Telecoms.com. “Whether it’s Speedtest.net, RootMetrics, GWS, Ofcom or now P3, our 4G performance is unbeatable, and this latest report shows where the challenge is on phone calls. We’ll keep investing, keep expanding the network, keep getting better, and we welcome more independent tests that help customers see which network is best for them.”
According to P3, the report is designed to provide an independent overview of the current state of mobile network services in the UK, where it is the first time the consultancy has done such a test. The firm has been providing similar network benchmarking in Germany since 2002 and in Switzerland since 2009. It said the test measurement methodology changes each year according to technological advancement.
“There have been numerous reports into UK network performance in the last month, each of which shows different results as they are based on different criteria, from locations tested to devices used,” a less jubilant Vodafone spokesperson told Telecoms.com.
“For example, research carried out independently by LCC [Lightbridge Communications Corporation] between August 2014 and November 2014 shows that in 14 major cities where we have rolled out 4G, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow, we provide unbeatable or the best indoor and outdoor 4G coverage. We continue to call for a common industry approach to these reports to properly measure a consistent signal for voice, data and video in areas where customers need it, including indoors.”
An O2 spokesperson took the middle ground: “We’re pleased that P3 recognise us as being in the top two for data services. This follows the recent recognition from uSwitch that O2 has the UK’s best network coverage,” they told Telecoms.com. “We continue to invest £1.5 million in our network every single day as we modernise our 2G and 3G networks and roll out 4G in order to deliver faster speeds and greater coverage to enable our customers to become more digital.”
The report concluded EE’s success in the benchmark was largely attributed to its dominant data performance coupled with a good voice network, but there remains room for improvement for the operator in rural areas. With better data performance, Three could put more pressure on EE. While O2 did well in data, its voice coverage could be significantly improved. Vodafone was actually at third place for both voice and data, but narrowly lost out to O2 on data performance.