UK: How fast and how accessible is 4G in your city?

Posted on May 3, 2017 by Kevin Fitchard

If you had one guess what the fastest 4G city in the U.K. might be, would that guess be Stoke-on-Trent? That’s right, Stoke is more than just the heart of England’s pottery industry. According to OpenSignal’s measurements, Stoke also lays claims to the fastest 4G speeds of any big city in Great Britain.

Following up on our State of Mobile Networks: UK report, OpenSignal and consumer advocate Which? decided to take a closer look at how the top 20 urban areas in Great Britain fared in 4G speed and 4G availability between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28. You’ll find both charts below, though some of the numbers may surprise you. Instead of major metropoles like London, Manchester and Birmingham dominating the rankings, we see many of the lesser-known lights of urban England at the top of our lists.

The aforementioned Stoke led our 4G speed rankings, averaging LTE download speeds of 26.4 Mbps in our measurements. That’s nearly 2 Mbps faster than the next fastest city Coventry and 3.5 Mbps faster than the average 4G download speed for all of Great Britain. Only half of the 20 cities we examined wound up above that national speed average of 22.9 Mbps. Most notably London was below it with average LTE connections of 20.5 Mbps. Last place, however, went to Brighton and Hove.

Middlesbrough topped our 4G availability rankings. Our smartphone users there were able to latch onto an LTE connection 82.7% of the time, an impressive number considering the average 4G availability across England, Scotland and Wales was just 65.1%. In fact, all 20 cities exceeded that mark. The city with the least accessible 4G service was Bournemouth, with an LTE availability score of 67.5%. But overall 4G signals are far more consistently available in the cities than in the countryside as you would expect.

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