GWS: 5G is already making a ‘marked improvement’ in UK speeds

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Research from Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) has found that good progress in 5G deployments is already making a “marked improvement” in UK speeds.

According to GWS’ network scanner testing, 5G is available across 37 percent of the 37 major cities, towns, and roads tested.

Throughput testing has shown that average speeds are boosted nearly five times in areas where 5G is available. Across all operators, 5G areas are delivering 150Mbps average speeds compared to 33Mbps elsewhere.

GWS notes that average network speeds are significantly boosted when a market reaches a certain level of 5G penetration. To achieve a baseline of 100Mbps average, operators must achieve around 40 percent 5G coverage in that market.

Only 7 of the 32 tested cities and towns have reached the aforementioned 40 percent baseline; London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, and Belfast. Furthermore, only one operator has reached the baseline in each market. Vodafone accounts for four of these and EE for three.

As 5G coverage expands, higher average speeds become more consistent. In Belfast, for example, EE achieved overall speeds of 102 Mbps with 5G coverage of 41 percent. In Manchester, Vodafone recorded an average overall throughput of 166 Mbps with coverage of 70 percent.

Dr Paul Carter, CEO of Global Wireless Solutions, commented:

“As next-generation technology is added into the network at more locations with overall speeds increasing and as new, feature-rich devices are introduced, customer expectations about network reliability remain constant – they want a network that they can rely on that will deliver the services they need. 

The results of our latest national testing show signs of good things to come for those with 5G-enabled phones across the country. Deploying a network nationwide isn’t instantaneous and each of the operators will face their own independent challenges. 

While we’ve seen significant improvements in speeds due to 5G, to realise predictable 5G coverage across entire cities and other locations, it’s simply going to take time.”

4G is currently being used for the majority of tasks even in areas where 5G is available. While 5G is available across more than one-third of the markets tested by GWS, it is only being delivered to 5G-enabled handsets 23 percent of the time in cities, 8 percent in towns, and just 5 percent of the time along motorways.

Few applications requiring 5G are currently available so it’s clear 4G is being used for the majority of tasks to conserve power, especially in areas where a 5G signal is available but weak. The general reliability of networks is, therefore, more important to most people than 5G at this point.

According to GWS’ OneScore network reliability testing, O2 is the UK’s most reliable network for the third year—ranking top in 18 of the 37 locations tested:

MarketGWS OneScore Reliability Winner
Newcastle Upon TyneEE
Smaller MotorwaysEE

A consumer survey carried out by GWS backs its network testing findings that O2 is the most reliable UK network.

84 percent of O2 customers are happy with their speeds at home, 82 percent of Three and Vodafone customers, and 78 percent of EE customers. During lockdown, 39 percent of O2 customers were “always satisfied” with their network’s reliability compared to 33 percent of EE customers, 31 percent of Vodafone customers, and 30 percent of Three customers.

In GWS’ network reliability testing, EE followed O2 with wins in 16 locations, Vodafone in 3, and Three with none.

The major city with the most reliable mobile connectivity remains Liverpool while Nottingham is now the least.

(Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash)

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