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Mobile broadband tests end in surprising results

By Kevin Thomas on 11th July 2014

Mobile broadband tests end in surprising results

Three tops mobile broadband tests

 

If you heard there was going to be a mobile broadband test which network would you expect to perform the best? We’d wager most people would say EE and with good reason, as its widespread 4G coverage and strong RootMetrics test results have been recorded here and elsewhere.

 

But today we have the results of a different test and today EE is not the winner. Broadband Genie recently completed its 2014 Road Trip test, during which it compares the speed and coverage of EE, O2, Three and Vodafone on a journey between London and Edinburgh.

 

The speed examination encompassed 17 individual tests across both legs of the journey and Broadband Genie found that the average download speed across networks was 3.48MB, while the average upload speed was 1.09MB, both of which were improvements on last year.

 

But it also found that Three, rather than EE, was fastest overall, recording the fastest single download speed of any network at 19.53MB. Its average speeds on both 4G and 3G were also faster than any other network’s average. Its average 4G download speed was 6.19MB and its average upload was 1.54MB, while its 3G download average was 4.48MB and 1.4MB upload.

 

EE did at least manage second place, with average 4G speeds of 3.99MB and 0.62MB for download and upload respectively, but that makes its average 4G speed slower than EE’s average 3G speed.

 

O2 fared even worse. Its average speeds weren’t bad, even topping EE’s in some cases, but its top speed of 11.83MB was on the low side. Vodafone came last of all, mostly due to terrible 3G results, which averaged 1.21MB download and 0.66MB upload.

 

For coverage, Broadband Genie assessed how many of the 78 total tasks each network was able to complete. Three won again with a 90% completion rate, while EE managed just 73%, O2 a mere 23% and Vodafone a shocking 17%. Showing that both Vodafone and O2 struggle enormously with coverage on both 3G and 4G.

 

By looking at the results of the coverage and speed tests for 4G specifically Broadband Genie found that Three was the best 4G network, as it beat the other networks for both coverage and speed. EE came second, then O2, then Vodafone.

 

The order of results was echoed when deciding on the best 3G network and with Three topping everything it was crowned the best overall network, with the highest completion rate for both 3G and 4G, the highest top speed and excellent average speeds.

 

EE came out second best as you’d expect from the other results. Presumably O2 would have come third and Vodafone last, but Broadband Genie doesn’t dole out third and fourth place awards for the overall results.

 

They’re some eye opening results. EE is probably faster in cities, but across rural locations, which will make up a lot of the London to Edinburgh journey, it’s not quite so fast and for all its talk of widespread 4G coverage its overall mobile coverage still seems lacking compared to Three’s, at least across this stretch of the UK.

 

O2 and Vodafone meanwhile seem to have some truly terrible coverage in rural locations and Three, despite being late to the 4G party, is the fastest and most consistent network provider overall based on these results. If you’re in the middle of London or some other urban centre and don’t plan on venturing far out of it then your experience may be quite different, but on the London to Edinburgh stretch Three is king and Vodafone is hardly worth bothering with.

 

Read about Rootmetrics mobile performance tests here!

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