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Wide variation in 4G network speeds

Published 02/04/2015

Ofcom's test of smartphones in five towns and cities found EE delivered the fastest average 4G download speed
Ofcom's test of smartphones in five towns and cities found EE delivered the fastest average 4G download speed

The UK's 4G networks are performing "much better" than 3G but a study has highlighted significant variations between operators.

Ofcom's test of smartphones in five towns and cities found EE delivered the fastest average 4G download speed at 18.6Mbit/s, followed by Vodafone (16.4Mbit/s), O2 (13.9Mbit/s) and Three (8.5Mbit/s).

Overall, 97% of test samples across EE, O2, Three and Vodafone provided 4G download speeds above 2Mbit/s, typically enough to support high-capacity video services.

This varied from EE delivering 4G download speeds faster than 2Mbit/s in 99.8% of test samples to Three, which achieved it in 89.9% of samples.

Three was the quickest on average for web browsing over 4G at an average of 0.63 seconds to load a web page.

Across the four networks, 83.4% of test samples provided 4G page loading speeds of under one second. However, the proportion was lower for EE at 62.9%, with nearly a third (29.9%) of EE's web browsing test samples failing to load within 15 seconds.

Overall, 4G networks performed "much better" than 3G networks in the five areas - Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Newcastle and Poole/Bournemouth, Ofcom said.

In these areas, 4G networks delivered an average download speed of 14.7Mbit/s, compared with 5.9Mbit/s on 3G, and took 0.72 seconds to load a web page compared with 1.04 seconds on 3G.

Across the four networks, 83.4% of test samples provided 4G page loading speeds of under one second.

Ofcom's consumer and content group director Claudio Pollack said: "People are increasingly connected, communicating and sharing content on their mobiles when out and about.

"4G is delivering a significantly enhanced mobile experience and, as these services roll out across the UK, our research will support consumers when choosing the right mobile package for their needs."

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