OpenSignal: Three mobile operators in the UK pass 70% LTE availability

The latest ‘State of Mobile Networks’ in the UK report from OpenSignal has been released providing a look at how the industry has progressed over the past year.

OpenSignal’s last report was released six months ago and highlighted one operator, EE, had crossed 70 percent LTE availability. In today’s report, EE has been joined by O2 and Vodafone who were also able to deliver LTE connectivity in more than 7 of every 10 tests. This leaves Three UK as the only major operator yet to pass this milestone.

While this marks significant progress in a short amount of time, LTE in the UK is yet to be as ubiquitous as it should be. Back in July, when OpenSignal released its last ‘State of LTE’ report, South Korea led in availability with 96.38% while the Netherlands led Europe with 86.06 percent.

EE now ties with Three for 3G download speeds despite becoming less reliant on it

In terms of LTE speed, Singapore led globally with an average download speed of 45.62 Mbps. In Europe, Hungary led the region at 42.61 Mbps. The UK, meanwhile, fell behind many of its neighbours with an average download speed of 22.65 Mbps.

OpenSignal introduced a new (experimental) metric in this report for determining the average peak speed calculated by examining only the fastest test collected across its large community of real users.

The following ‘peak speeds’ were determined:

  • EE (136.1 Mbps)

  • Vodafone (113.2 Mbps)

  • Three UK (94.1 Mbps)

  • O2 (69.6 Mbps)

If correct, it shows EE has an average peak speed almost double that of O2. This meant Three UK, while behind in LTE availability, managed to avoid falling into last place by a significant margin of 24.5 Mbps.

LTE in the UK is yet to be as ubiquitous as it should be

OpenSignal notes Three UK had a faster average speed (22.3 Mbps) than Vodafone (18.9 Mbps) which is somewhat at odds with its peak speed findings. The researchers claim this is ‘almost certainly’ the effects of congestion on Vodafone’s network due to a much larger subscriber base.

“Our testers on Three’s network were able to get much closer to the full potential of Three’s LTE network,” wrote OpenSignal in a blog post. “Meanwhile, Vodafone had a very powerful network in our peak speed results, but our users were able to tap into much less of that potential on an everyday basis.”

As for O2, OpenSignal notes its low peak speed indicates more limited LTE resources. However, the researchers praise the network for seemingly ‘managing those resources well’ due to peak speeds about 4.5 times faster than its average tested 4G speed of 15.1 Mbps. Vodafone’s peak speed, for comparison, is about six times faster than its average.

Three UK was originally designed to capitalise on 3G and the network has long offered the fastest speeds for it. However, over the summer, OpenSignal notes EE now ties with Three for 3G download speeds despite becoming less reliant on it as it transitions to 4G.

829,136,423 measurements were taken for OpenSignal’s report conducted between June 1st, 2017 and August 31st, 2017. Find a full copy of the report here (PDF).

What are your thoughts on the state of UK mobile networks? Let us know in the comments.

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