Mobile operators engaged in 4 nation battle


Mobile performance across each of the UK’s four nations is split with no one operator sweeping the board, according to new results from RootMetrics, an IHS Markit company.

In its latest round of testing, RootMetrics found a different overall award winner in three of the four countries, with EE claiming England, Vodafone securing Northern Ireland and Three winning Scotland and Wales.

>See also: Why telcos must change their approach to mobile networks

This comes as EE retained its overall title as the top performing operator across the whole of the UK. However, the competition is stiff with Three reclaiming the award for most reliable network.

Operators race to plant their national flags

The results of the mobile network performance results in the UK report revealed that each of the major operators have developed a strong base in at least one of the UK’s four nations.

EE claimed the top mobile performance award outright in England, as well as for network speed and data performance, which – due to its dense population – resulted in EE’s overall UK-wide win. The operator also claimed all network speed, data, and text performance wins or shares across all four countries.

Vodafone was named overall winner and most reliable network in Northern Ireland, as well as an outright claim for the Call Performance award.

Three emerged as the top overall operator in Scotland and Wales, also claiming the Network Reliability crown for those countries and England, while O2 delivered a good performance in Northern Ireland, securing a shared text award.

At UK-wide level EE retains overall title, with rivals close behind

From a UK-wide perspective, EE retained its title as the overall performance winner, and Three and Vodafone made strong in-roads across other categories. Three reclaimed the title of most reliable network, whilst also earning a joint award in call performance with Vodafone.

EE continues to lead in network speed and data performance, while Vodafone tied with EE for the text performance. Vodafone’s wins in the call and text categories are its first UK-wide awards since RootMetrics started testing in 2012.

>See also: Top 3 telecom trends for 2017

When looking at the metro area results, composed of the UK’s 16 largest cities, EE once again came away with the most RootScore Awards across all six categories: Overall Performance, Network Reliability, Network Speed, Data Performance, Call Performance, and Text Performance.

The operator claimed 74 wins, down from 94 in the second half of 2016. EE’s award tally dip is largely due to declines in Call Performance as the operator shifts technologies. As a result, combined with improvement from the other operators, they each picked up ground in the award counts: Three (39, up from 20), Vodafone (38, up from 33) and O2 (38, up from 28).

Race to extend 4G reach still on

The race to offer the UK uninterrupted 4G coverage is heating up. EE is leading the charge with its 4G offering, which is available to its users 90% of the time across the UK, with Vodafone (82%) and O2 (81%) not far behind. Three trails the pack with a 67% success rate on 4G.

UK-wide 4G availability: 1H 2017
UK-wide 4G availability: 1H 2017

“These latest results have really shaken things up and show the increasing competitiveness in the UK, particularly over the last six months,” said Scott Stonham, general manager of Europe for RootMetrics.

“EE continues to lead the way, but Three and Vodafone are close behind. What is clear is that each operator showed strong performance in at least one particular country, while nobody was able to sweep the board at the four-nations level. UK consumers have strong mobile options depending on how and where they use their devices most.”

>See also: 5G will be transformative for the UK

“To succeed, mobile operators must secure sufficient radio spectrum and invest in the necessary equipment, sites and operational teams to ensure consumers enjoy fast reliable mobile broadband,” added Ian Fogg, senior research director for mobile and telecom at IHS Markit.

“With new UK spectrum allocations soon to be auctioned in the run up to 5G, these performance results provide a snapshot on the competitive balance between the UK mobile operators now, and highlight which operators most need to acquire new spectrum capacity if they are to be a future mobile performance winner.”


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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