EE has once again been name the best mobile net­work in the UK by inde­pen­dent testers Root­Met­rics, but Voda­fone has estab­lished itself as the company’s near­est com­peti­tor dur­ing the first half of 2019.

The BT-owned oper­a­tor either won or shared top spot in all six test­ing cat­e­gories, but Voda­fone fin­ished a “strong sec­ond” in mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories. This includ­ed the over­all cat­e­go­ry, as well as reli­a­bil­i­ty, speed, data, call and text.

Root­Met­rics said invest­ments in Vodafone’s net­work, such as the roll­out of car­ri­er aggre­ga­tion tech­nol­o­gy in major cities, was pay­ing div­i­dends. It not­ed the “excel­lent reli­a­bil­i­ty” of the Voda­fone net­work as well as improve­ments in speed.

UK network testing

Indeed, Voda­fone record­ed the sin­gle fastest aver­age medi­an speed of 51.7Mbps in Liv­er­pool. Voda­fone also had the best net­work in Wales.

How­ev­er EE remains the net­work to beat – as it has done in vir­tu­al­ly every round of test­ing con­duct­ed by Root­Met­rics since it entered the UK mar­ket a num­ber of years ago. In addi­tion to its UK title, EE remains the strongest in Eng­land, North­ern Ire­land and Scot­land.

Three fin­ished third in every cat­e­go­ry, but Root­Met­rics said this large­ly reflect­ed improve­ments made by com­peti­tors rather than the decreas­ing qual­i­ty of Three’s net­work. Testers not­ed con­sis­tent speeds and sol­id reli­a­bil­i­ty but also found that Three has the low­est 4G foot­print in the UK.

Final­ly, O2 ranked joint third or fourth in every cat­e­go­ry. Again, this is not nec­es­sar­i­ly because O2 is get­ting worse but because of the per­for­mance of EE, Three and Voda­fone. O2 remains strong in North­ern Ire­land and broke the 20Mbps thresh­old for aver­age medi­an speed in a num­ber of major cities.

Testers say that new net­work tech­nolo­gies, cou­pled with the roll­out of new spec­trum, could see improve­ments in the near future.

As ever, speed isn’t every­thing, but it is the met­ric that attracts the most head­lines. Root­Met­rics found that EE had the fastest aggre­gate medi­an down­load speed of 37.6Mbps, beat­ing Vodafone’s 21.7Mbps. Three was third with 13.6Mbps and O2 last with 11.1Mbps.

How­ev­er in metro areas, Vodafone’s Liv­er­pool speed was the fastest, fol­lowed by EE with 45.7Mbps, O2 with 25.4Mbps and Three with 19Mbps.

The next set of tests will see the impact of 5G for the first time. Both EE and Voda­fone have launched their 5G ser­vices, with O2 and Three set to fol­low lat­er this year.

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