4G at London Event Venues

This week we’re looking at the results of Rootmetrics’ new report Big city network performance: the London urban mobile experience. Our last post looked at the overall performance of the different 4G networks in the capital, and our next post will take a look at the state of 4G in various transport hubs around the city, but this post is all about network performance at major London venues.

EE brings 4G to Wembley

Mobile devices now play a big part in the experience of going to an event, whether it’s a concert or a football match. The audiences at major events want to be able to check emails, download information about the event, upload photos or videos to social media, and contact other attendees. Venues are becoming increasingly connected, with the ability to order food or watch action replays via smartphones becoming ever more common. Wembley has been working with EE to create the most connected stadium in the world – with visitors even able to change the lighting of the famous arch using social media sentiment.

Event venues can be complex places to provide mobile connectivity due to dense construction materials, unique locations, and congestion caused by large crowds. With that in mind Rootmetrics measured network performance for the four major 4G providers at the Emirates Stadium, The O2 Arena, and Wembley Stadium. Overall speeds and reliability were found to be lower at event venues than in other areas of London life, so which provider offered the best service at each of the venues tested?

Emirates Stadium

For overall performance, the winner at the Emirates stadium was EE. It was also the winner in terms of speed. The average time to upload a 3MB picture with EE was 3.2 seconds compared with 7.8 seconds with Vodafone, 8.5 seconds with O2, and 15.8 seconds with Three. All networks struggled with mobile internet network reliability at the Emirates Stadium, both in terms of getting connected and staying connected, and Vodafone was the only provider to achieve excellent performance in staying connected (97% plus).

The O2 Arena

The name might suggest that O2 customers would get a good service at this particular event venue, but in fact Vodafone was the winner for overall performance as well as speed. Relatively low speeds were recorded for all 4G networks at the O2 Arena. Uploading a 3MB picture took on average 16.8 seconds with Vodafone, 22.6 seconds with EE, 24.8 seconds with O2, and 48.8 seconds with Three. O2 redeemed itself slightly on reliability, achieving excellent performance in getting connected alongside Vodafone. Reliability was poor for EE at this venue, with testers able to connect to the EE network less than half of the time.

Wembley Stadium

Given EE’s relationship with Wembley Stadium it wasn’t surprising that the provider came out top in speed, reliability, and overall performance at this particular venue. Speeds varied greatly by provider with the average time taken to upload a 3MB image being 3.8 seconds for EE, 27.4 seconds for Vodafone, 35 seconds for O2, and an exceptionally slow 120.8 seconds for Three. EE achieved excellent performance for staying connected, but not getting connected, and the other providers struggled with overall reliability. Testers could only connect to O2’s network 34.4% of the time and stay connected 18.6% of the time. They were able to connect to Vodafone’s network 53.7% of the time and stay connected 34.8% of the time.