4G Coverage Reached 7m More Brits In 2016

RootMetrics tests show EE is still the UK’s best network, but coverage and reliability is improving across the board

Seven million more people had access to 4G at the end of 2016 compared to a year earlier, according to RootMetrics. 

The network testers covered 50,000 miles and the entire UK population in compiling its annual report, which saw EE named best network yet again, although the other operators have closed the gap once more.

RootMetrics also tested 16 major cities and created reports for each of the home nations. While EE was the best in all metropolitan areas, Vodafone offered the joint-best calls and text service in Northern Ireland and Scotland, while O2 did the same in Northern Ireland. 

Read More: How does RootMetrics test UK operators? 

Network rankings 

EE was also the most reliable network in Wales, with a RootMetrics score of 85.4 with Three basically level-pegging with a score of 85.0; but all operators have improved in that field to the tune of eight percent. 

Each operator is given a weighted ‘Rootscore’ out of 100 for every category. This metric weights certain categories as more important – for example mobile internet is given priority over texts – and it is hoped this, rather than pure stats, can make the results easier to understand. 

However some operators (mostly the ones that don’t do too well) have disputed the firm’s findings and methods. RootMetrics has previously told Silicon that its scientific approach offered the best indication of a network’s performance. 

“Our independent, comprehensive, and scientific testing showed significant increases in both 4G availability and the reliability of mobile services over the past year across all networks,” said Scott Stonham, General Manager of Europe at RootMetrics.  

“Consumer demand for data-heavy services – such as video and music streaming – is exploding. As consumers hunt for the strongest performance they can afford, mobile operators are making investments to make sure they keep up.” 

A number of other reports have suggested UK 4G isn’t improving significantly, especially in rural areas.

As per the terms of its 800MHz spectrum licence, O2 is obligated to provide an indoor LTE service to 98 percent of the population and it has been suggested that the other major operators will either match this or come close. The UK’s largest 4G operator EE has committed to ensuring 95 percent geographical LTE coverage by the end of the decade. 

Ofcom is making more spectrum available later this year and reforms to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) should make it easier to deploy infrastructure.

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