RootMetrics: EE maintains performance lead, but rivals are catching up

RootMetrics: EE maintains performance lead, but rivals are catching up
Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter: @Gadget_Ry

The latest Mobile Performance Review report from RootMetrics shows that EE remains the UK operator to beat, but rivals are catching up.

EE swept six RootScore awards for overall performance, reliability, speed, and data, call, and text performance. The operator delivered the fastest median download speeds – across all network technologies – in every city.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said:

“Delivering the best mobile experience for our customers has never been more important.

Being recognised as the UK’s best network for the eighth year running reflects our continued investment in keeping our customers connected to the things that matter most.”

Vodafone shared three awards with EE for network reliability, and call and text performance. Customers will likely be pleased with the improvements made to the network as Vodafone only received one award in 2H 2020.

O2, fresh from its merger with Virgin Media, stole the final award from EE and Vodafone for network accessibility. Since the merger, the operator is noted as showing strong improvements with ranking increases in overall performance, reliability, and call performance.

While Three received no RootScore awards, the UK’s smallest mobile operator by subscribers has also improved greatly over the previous test period. Three delivered median download speeds above 30 Mbps in three cities in 1H 2021, a jump from zero in 2H 2020. The operator’s lower-end speeds improved as well with speeds of under 20 Mbps recorded in just four out of 16 tested cities compared to 13 in 2H 2020.

Patrick Linder, CMO at RootMetrics by IHS Markit, commented:

“In the first half of 2021, we saw an already dynamic mobile landscape in the UK continue to evolve and improve. End users will be pleased to see all four main operators improving their performance, particularly when it comes to 5G availability and speed.

With the availability of 5G continuing to grow and all four major operators providing users with Everyday 5G median download speeds above 100 Mbps in nearly every city we tested, the providers are clearly making good progress in terms of delivering the key combination of both widespread availability plus fast speeds.”

Three was once again warned this week by the Advertising Standards Authority against claiming that it offers “real 5G” in marketing campaigns.

With 100MHz worth, Three has the most contiguous 5G spectrum holdings of any UK operator—compared to 40MHz and 50MHz worth respectively of its nearest competitors. 

Global 5G standards body the ITU states “true” 5G requires 100MHz of 5G spectrum, so Three’s claim isn’t entirely unsubstantiated. However, after consulting with telecoms regulator Ofcom, ASA ruled that Three’s claim is misleading and tangible performance increases would be “achievable only in certain ideal conditions and would rarely be experienced by consumers everywhere in a mature 5G network.”

For now, Three’s fastest median 5G speeds remains the slowest of the four major operators:

All four of the major operators have shown admirable improvements to their networks over a difficult year when robust connectivity has never been more important. It will be interesting to see whether EE can retain its lead over an increasingly competitive Vodafone, whether O2’s merger with Virgin Media can result in further performance improvements, and if Three can prove its 5G claims over time.

The full 1H 2021 Mobile Performance in Review report can be found here.

(Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash)

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