And 2017’s best UK mobile network is…

OpenSignal has just published its 2017 State of Mobile Networks report, and it will likely leave representatives from EE grinning ear-to-ear. Vodafone, Three and O2… less so.

And 2017’s best UK mobile network is…

The report examines the four main networks for their 3G and 4G performance and availability, and although all the providers oversaw a healthy boost in LTE signal in the past six months, in terms of performance, it’s basically a one-horse town.

EE triumphed in the categories dedicated to 4G speed, latency and availability, as well as taking the title for best download speed overall. The only blights on its copybook came from missing out on the fastest 3G download speed to Three, and having to share the 3G latency trophy with Vodafone.


That leaves O2 sheepishly standing alone without any awards. Well, not quite alone: Tesco, giffgaff and Sky Mobile all piggyback off O2’s network.

The good news for them is that they’ve seen substantial improvement since the last report, and are closing in on Three and Vodafone in terms of speed. They registered an average speed of 11.51Mbps, with Vodafone on 13.32Mbps and Three on 13.78Mbps. EE was ahead by some margin though, with a whopping average of 23.57Mbps.

Fast speeds are useless if you barely ever have signal, of course, and now it’s Three’s turn to wear the performance dunce cap. While EE, O2 and Vodafone are all pretty close with scores of 72.44%, 68.98% and 67.73% respectively, Three is left lagging behind on 49.86%. Those figures relate to the percentage of time the users in the study had a 4G connection, so at least Three won the 3G speed (6.5Mbps) for those many moments when a 4G signal is out of reach.

In terms of methodology, the numbers involved were pretty comprehensive: 535,515,861 datapoints were collected from 30,793 users between 1 December 2016 and 28 February 2017 via the OpenSignal app.

It will be interesting to see how things change in the next report, but things look like they’re moving in the right direction. As the report concludes: “In our last State of LTE report published in November, we measured the average 4G availability for UK smartphone users at 58%. Three of the UK’s four major operators are now well beyond that benchmark. There are still plenty of countries that offer much more consistent access to LTE signals than the UK, but UK operators are making big improvements in a relatively short amount of time.”

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