OpenSignal's new State of Mobile Networks report for the U.K. shows that access to 4G signals is increasing at a rapid clip across the country, meaning more people have access to a fast mobile broadband connection more often and in more places. That's particularly good news for those partial to using their phones as miniature TV screens. In a recent analysis of U.K. mobile services, OpenSignal found the video streaming experience to be a high quality one across all four operators' 4G connections.
One operator stood above the rest, however. EE beat out 3, O2 and Vodafone in our video experience metric, which shouldn't come as a big surprise since EE routinely leads the way in our 4G speed, 4G availability and 4G latency metrics. For this analysis, we employed a developmental OpenSignal metric called video experience, which uses real-world tests to measure the loading time of video, the proportion of time a video stream stops during playback and overall image quality. Derived from industry-vetted methodologies, our metric aggregates those measurements to calculate a video experience score from 0 to 100, with 100 being a theoretical limit indicating a perfect video session, and 0 indicating an unwatchable streaming session. (For more information on how we test video experience check out our more detailed explanation of the metric.)
Our results show that EE topped the chart with a video experience score of 74.3, while 3 and Vodafone were statistically tied with scores of 72.3 and 71.3 respectively. O2 placed 4th with a tested score of 68.4. All four of those scores, however, landed within the range we define as a very good video experience. That means in our tests the video streams started after only a small amount of delay and typically played at 720p resolution without interruptions.
The differences between the results may not be large, but it's interesting to see how those results track with the other metrics we compile for these operators. This may come as little surprise, but in this case higher 4G speeds are indicative of good video quality. The higher the operators ranked in our 4G speed metric, the better their results in our video tests. Fast connections only go so far, however. In our last two U.K. reports we found EE averaged 4G download speeds nearly double that of O2, yet EE's video experience score is nowhere near double O2's score. O2 managed to provide a high quality streaming experience in our measurements even though its tested 4G speeds fall well short of both the U.K. and global average. Fast connections are great, but resilient and consistent connections are also vital to maintaining uninterrupted, high-resolution video streams.
If you're a mobile consumer in the U.K., we'd love to hear about your own personal experience streaming video on 3, EE, O2 or Vodafone. Let us know in the comments below.