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EE, O2 and Vodafone 4G: Mobile beats fixed line broadband for average speed

Average speeds available on O2 and Vodafone’s 4G mobile networks beat what most people in the UK can get on their fixed line domestic broadband service, a survey has revealed. 

Over 11,000 speed tests taken in London by independent research company RootMetrics shows that the average download speeds available on both networks weighs in at around 16Mbps. 

O2 customers on average get speeds of 16.3Mbps when using a mixture of 3G and 4G, while Vodafone punters get the slightly slower average speed of 16.2Mbps.

At the last count, telecoms regulator Ofcom placed the UK’s average domestic download speed at 14.7Mbps. 

EE isn’t the only 4G player in the UK any more but it’s still the fastest. For now.

Read our guide to 4G in the UK and the 4G spectrum auction and what it meansLooking at 4G-only speeds, average downloads for O2 came in at 23.3Mbps and speeds for Vodafone clocked in at 20.8Mbps. The maximum 4G download speed on O2 was 65.8 Mbps and Vodafone’s was 57.7Mbps. 

This is still somewhat behind the average speed that EE’s 4G customers can get. EE, which launched its 4G services in October 2012, has committed to a series of speed boosts and says that on average customers get speeds of between 20-30Mbps. 

RootMetric’s earlier surveys of EE customers put the average download speed at 22.7Mbps. 4G-only download speeds on EE weighed in at at 29.6 Mbps and the maximum download speed achieved was 79.1Mbps. 

Bill Moore, CEO and President of RootMetrics says “This first look at London’s 4G services bodes well for the new providers and, more importantly, for people who chose to sign up. 

“EE has had the best part of a year to cement its place and remains the speed leader, but the early signs for O2 and Vodafone are very positive, especially when it comes to 4G availability.” 

Defining mobile broadband speeds is trickier than getting a handle on fixed-lines mainly because there are more factors that can affect the quality of service you get throughout the day. 

While you can calculate an ‘up to’ speed in lab conditions, much like you can with domestic broadband, things such as network traffic, the number of people using a mobile cell tower, your phone’s antennas and even local geography can have an affect on the speed you’ll get. 

‘EE 4G is still the fastest but O2 and Vodafone has better indoor coverage’The RootMetrics test was conducted over 310 miles within London and incorporated both outdoor and indoor locations. Despite EE comfortably claiming faster download speeds overall, the survey found that both O2 and Vodafone benefited from better indoor availability.

4G was available in 69.4 per cent of Vodafone indoor tests compared to 63.9 per cent of O2 indoor tests. RootMetrics says that this compares more favourably to the ‘50 per cent or so’ figures for indoor 4G on ‘seen on other networks’.

This is perhaps unsurprising, as O2 always said that it was going to focus on coverage over speed

A bigger report detailing areas within Greater London is currently being compiled by RootMetrics and will be available next month. 

EE 4G is available in over 100 towns and cities across the UK whereas O2 and Vodafone are only available in a handful of locations. 

The latter two networks have a mast sharing agreement which means that they’ll more or less roll out 4G in the same places at the same time. 

All UK networks have agreed that 98 per cent of the UK population will be able to get 4G services by 2015. This will be facilitated in part by the government’s £150 million Mobile Infrastructure Project, which aims to improve mobile signal in predominantly rural areas. Read RootMetric’s full report here

Image: ell_brown/Flickr

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