Gap Narrowing between EE and Other 4G Networks

Although EE still came top in all categories of the UK RootMetrics Midyear Mobile Network Performance Report, their lead over the other 4G providers is narrowing, with Three offering particularly strong competition.

4G network comparison

RootMetrics has compiled a report into the performance of the four 4G networks, EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three over the first half of 2014, by driving the length and breadth of the UK performing network tests. They have combined tests while driving, stationery tests at outdoor locations, and indoor testing to give an overall picture of how the different networks are performing.

The latest RootMetrics report measures UK wide performance in six categories:

  1. RootMetrics Report into 4G networks Overall performance
  2. Reliability
  3. Speed
  4. Mobile internet performance
  5. Call performance
  6. Text performance

While EE came top in every category, Three came an impressive second in every category apart from call performance and were alomst equal to EE in reliability. O2 maintained a consistent third place, while Vodafone generally came in fourth. The area where EE had the biggest advantage was in speed, with a speed index of 79.5, considerably higher than its nearest rival Three with a speed index score of 67.9.

The most notable results were in mobile internet where EE and Three were way ahead of both O2 and Vodafone. EE had a mobile internet performance score of 85.5, closely followed by Three at 82.7. O2 and Vodafone trailed with scores of 68.1 and 67.0 respectively. RootMetrics suggests that this trend is driven by EE’s speeds and Three’s network reliability as both of these factors are taken into account when producing the mobile internet score.

Mobile internet performance varies by individual nation:

  • England: In England EE has the highest performance in mobile internet with a score of 86.8. It is followed by Three (88.2), O2 (69.4) and Vodafone (69.1).
  • Northern Ireland: In Northern Ireland EE has the highest performance in mobile internet with a score of 85.8. It is followed by Three (80.0), O2 (51.9) and Vodafone (49.6).
  • Scotland: In Scotland Three has the highest performance in mobile internet with a score of 81.4. It is followed by EE (76.1), O2 (58.5) and Vodafone (56.2).
  • Wales: In Wales Three and EE have equal highest performance in mobile internet with a score of 80.6. They are followed by Vodafone (56.3) and O2 (53.8).

Despite the gap to the bottom two networks, it should be noted that both O2 and Vodafone showed considerable improvement in mobile internet performance from the last RootMetrics report, and Vodafone in particular is now almost performing on a par with O2. In call performance and text performance the four networks are broadly comparable.

According to EE CEO Olaf Swantee, “Today’s results, along with last week’s report from Ofcom, show that EE is providing the best mobile experience to businesses and consumers across the UK. We continue to invest to ensure that customers here have access to a world-leading network, setting new standards for performance and reliability. We welcome the most rigorous independent testing of mobile networks, and it’s great to see ongoing investment is improving quality and coverage for people, no matter where they are in the country.”

Although EE is still outperforming the rest, the difference between the four 4G networks is decreasing and Three is a particularly strong contender in reliability and mobile internet.