Peter Boyland, Senior Analyst
Bristol has always been a city of explorers. John Cabot and William Weston set sail from the city on their historic voyages to the New World, while the maritime port enjoys a certain ignominy as the focal point of the British slave trade. But now Bristol is pushing towards new horizons in the mobile sphere, as the U.K.'s fastest city by 4G Download Speed.
Opensignal analyzed 15 of the largest cities in the U.K. over a 90-day sample period from Nov. 1, 2018, measuring Download and Upload Speed Experience. We found Bristol was the fastest city with an average download speed of 28.2 Mbps in our measurements, followed closely by Cardiff on 28 Mbps and Birmingham on 27.4 Mbps. The U.K. capital London was distinctly mid-table in our 4G Download Speed analysis with an average score of 24.9 Mbps — just behind Manchester's 26.6 Mbps — while the Scottish and Northern Irish capitals Edinburgh and Belfast were both towards the bottom of the table.
In terms of Upload Speed Experience, Scotland’s Glasgow came top, while Cardiff and Manchester also managed scores over 10 Mbps in our measurements. Sheffield was fourth with a score of 9.8 Mbps, followed closely by our download winner Bristol with an Upload Speed Experience score of 9.7 Mbps. London was fifth-from-bottom in our upload rankings, with Edinburgh, Leicester, Newcastle and Hull making up the rest of the bottom five.
Upload speed is becoming an increasingly important metric as consumer mobile habits shift. Smartphone users are moving away from downloading and consuming to uploading and creating content, meaning upload speeds are becoming more and more important to the mobile experience.
So how do the U.K.'s cities compare to the national picture? In our recent report on the global 5G opportunity, we found the U.K.'s average 4G Download Speed Experience score was 22.5 Mbps. Bristol's winning score was over 5 Mbps faster than the national average in our measurements, while only three cities — Belfast, Newcastle and Sheffield — were slower. However the U.K.'s overall score does not compare very favourably with its European neighbours, as Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Greece all had faster 4G Download Speed scores.
We'll be taking a closer look at the full spectrum of users’ mobile network experience in the U.K. in the coming weeks — watch this space! But in the meantime, check out our latest Mobile Networks Update: UK report, and feel free to follow us for more insights on Twitter.