EE Named Best UK Mobile Network Again, But Three Closes Gap

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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RootMetrics data reveals all four operators are improving, but EE and Three are moving ahead of O2 and Vodafone

The gap between the UK’s two best performing mobile networks, EE and Three, and rivals Vodafone and O2 is widening despite improvements from all four operators, a new RootMetrics report has found.

The independent firm’s UK Network Performance Review for the second half of 2014 conducted one million indoor, outdoor and in-car tests across the UK and gave scores for overall performance, reliability, speed, data, calls and tests for the country as a whole, each home nation and 16 of the most populous cities in the UK.

EE is still the country’s best mobile network, finishing either top or joint top in all six categories. However Three was either tied for first or second, with O2 tied for second in just one criterion and Vodafone failing to place in the top two at all.

Widening gap

EE Highspeed Herd cow glastonbury fibreglassEE recorded an overall score of 89.4, placing it ahead of Three on 86.2 and comfortably ahead of O2’s 79.5 and Vodafone’s 78.8. EE was also by far and away the fastest network with a score of 82.2 – ahead of Three, Vodafone and O2, whose scores were 70.7, 68.7 and 68.0.

All four were fairly similar in terms of text performance, with the highest rating being EE’s 92.7 and the lowest O2’s 89.5, but EE led the way in calls with 90.0, better than Three’s 87.5, O2’s 87.2 and Vodafone’s 83.4.

However EE and Three were rated significantly better for reliability and mobile Internet. The two MBNL partners were named joint most-reliable with 91.6 and 9.1 compared to O2 and Vodafone who were joint-third with 81 and 80.8, while EE’s data service was rated 88 and Three’s 87.5 – well ahead of Vodafone on 71.9 and O2 on 69.6.

This dominance continued in the country tanks, with EE named best overall network in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and Three second in all four nations, comfortably ahead of O2 and Vodafone. Unsurprisingly, EE was top in 13 of the 16 metropolitan areas tested and was joint first with either O2 or Three in the other three cities.

Overall improvement

However despite the widening gap, RootMetrics says all four networks are improving.

“The networks are all getting better, period. We saw improvements across the board in speed, mobile internet performance, and network reliability,” said RootMetrics CEO and President Bill Moore. “Consumers deserve reliable mobile experience wherever they are, whether they’re making a call, downloading a video, or texting friends.

“That’s why, in this third time we tested the UK, we went even further into cities, rural communities and on the road to provide the most comprehensive, scientifically sound, and fiercely independent view of mobile coverage available anywhere.”

The UK mobile market is set for a major shakeup over the next 12 months as BT seeks to complete a £12.5 billion takeover of EE and Three’s parent company Hutchison Whampoa moves to buy O2 for up to £10.25 billion.

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