GWS includes Android and iOS for the first time in nationwide tests

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/franckreporter)

Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) has been in the mobile network testing game for some time, but this year marks the first time both Android and iOS devices have been tested together for a comprehensive look at the current state of UK mobile networks. 

Also debuting with the latest report is GWS' unique OneScore ranking system which takes into account both in-depth network testing data and the wireless services which consumers believe are most important to them. Despite a growing usage of data, voice calls remain the most important factor of a mobile experience for consumers, according to research. 

Dr. Paul Carter, CEO at Global Wireless Solutions, commented: “Traditionally, network performance has been tested by placing significant emphasis on a discrete parameter such as throughputs or signal levels. While this may provide a performance snapshot of one part of a wireless network, it doesn’t take into account consumer perception and services utilised." 

"To truly understand how those networks are performing, it’s crucial to also have a meaningful understanding of consumer expectations and behavior when they’re using their mobile devices – that’s the gap OneScore is filling. By providing mobile operators with a clear and meaningful metric that looks at the actual data from controlled testing, alongside how consumers are actually using their mobile devices, we are giving them a full picture of the true performance of their network.” 

EE stands in first place on the podium with the best OneScore for its combined data and voice performance. Three UK ranks number one for voice performance alone, but a last place ranking for mobile data caused the network to slip behind. 

Some difference in the results were observed dependent on geographical region. In the major Northern cities, O2 was ranked 'King of the North' for its leading 4G performance ensuring the highest percentage of connection time on 4G and the highest number of ‘perfect’ mobile internet reliability scores. Yet again, EE took number one in the South of England for 4G connection time. 

With Brits spending one in six minutes of time online browsing social media networks, GWS dedicated a category of its testing for social media activity in order to provide a better picture of day-to-day performance. Once more, EE ranked number one, with O2 following in second place. 

Interestingly, the results appear to differ slightly from P3 Communications' study we reported on earlier this week. O2 came last in P3's national testing – particularly for data performance – but was ranked first in GWS' study for Northern cities. Three ranked last for data in GWS' research, but O2 came last by a wide margin in P3's own. 

Whereas GWS uses thousands of tests ran on actual iOS and Android devices up and down the country, P3 uses a different methodology with walk tests conducted using a trolley with battery pack and smartphones, while drive tests involve two cars equipped with smartphones. About 50,000 samples were obtained per operator (totalling approximately 200,000 samples) by P3 in their research, compared to 987,000 in GWS' own which could indicate a higher degree of accuracy. 

Methodology 

GWS conducted this series of tests to evaluate mobile network performance across the United Kingdom. 987,000 data and voice task tests were conducted to evaluate the network performance of O2, EE, Three and Vodafone in 17 major cities, in August and September 2016. The tests were conducted using the GWS Mobile Diagnostic App running on iPhone 6s devices, and the SwissQual powered by Rohde & Schwarz’s (SwissQual QualiPoc) Freerider using Samsung S6s to gather data. 

Do you think GWS' methodology provides a more accurate picture of network performance? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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Peter Ennis
11 Nov 2016, 3:41 p.m.

I took a look to the results and methodology from P3 measurements which were online. Unfortunately i could not compare with GWS since there is no result or methodology on their page, so is kind of "easy" to challenge the available results just based on the sample comparison. More information from both would be great to take conclusions

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