Crowdsourced data analysis firm Tutela has today published their annual 2019 State of Mobile Networks report for the United Kingdom, which among other things found that you’ll get the fastest 3G and 4G mobile broadband download speeds in Scotland (median average of 14.6Mbps). Overall EE delivered the best operator scores.
As usual the research was conducted by gathering anonymous usage data from the background of many supporting Android and iOS based Smartphone apps (conducted between 1st February to 31st July 2019), which produced a total of 223 billion measurements, 6 billion records, 17 million speedtests and many other tests for latency, jitter etc.
Interestingly Scotland delivered the fastest average (median) mobile download speeds in common coverage areas across all major networks (Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three UK) of 14.6Mbps, which was followed by 14.2Mbps in Wales, 14.2Mbps in England and just 12.7Mbps in Northern Ireland. Scotland’s networks also delivered the highest Excellent Consistent Quality – with 77.5% of connections meeting the Excellent threshold compared to 74.7% in England, 74.4% in Wales and 71.6% in Northern Ireland.
Overall all four mobile operators were relatively close for Tutela’s measurement of Core Consistent Quality, which is a set of thresholds that represent network suitability for day-to-day activities like streaming standard-definition video. Just 3.3% separated first-place EE from fourth place Three UK, and all operators had more than 93% of tests where a user had signal meet the threshold.
However the results for mobile broadband speeds and latency show some much bigger differences between the four primary operators and EE leads the pack, which is largely in keeping with the other studies we’ve seen from RootMetrics, Ofcom and OpenSignal.
Fastest UK Operator by Median Download Speed
Fastest UK Operator by Median Upload Speed
1. EE 8.2Mbps
2. Vodafone 6.5Mbps
3. O2 5.3Mbps
4. Three UK 4.7Mbps
Fastest UK Operator by Latency Performance (Milliseconds)
1. EE 13ms
2. O2 16.6ms
3. Vodafone 16.9ms
4. Three UK 17.3ms
The results will make for grim reading at Three UK, although on the 4G side of things they’ve historically tended to control less radio spectrum and have more data hungry users than the other operators. The amount of time that their users spent connected to the 4G vs slower 3G side of their network may also have had an impact (roughly reflecting network coverage).
We should point out that at present the new generation of 5G mobile networks are only just starting their rollout and so won’t yet be having any significant impact upon such studies, although next year’s report may start to tell a different story.
Tom Luke, VP at Tutela, told ISPreview.co.uk:
“EE’s dominance in the UK market is significant, both in raw metrics but also against Tutela’s Excellent and Core Consistent Quality thresholds which represent whether users’ network experience will meet the requirements of most mobile apps. It’s also notable that Scotland’s mobile networks perform so well, and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues next year, with the majority of current 5G investments so far focusing on English cities.”
As usual we must stress that testing conducting via non-dedicated apps could be less accurate than dedicate solutions (e.g. Opensignal). Crowdsourced data can also be affected by the user’s location, as well as any limitations of the device being used and it similarly lacks a common type of hardware (useful when trying to form a solid scientific baseline of performance). Suffice to say that speed testing like this may not always tell the whole story but it remains a useful bit of extra information and seems to echo other reports.