Mobile Network Experience Report United Kingdom April 2021

United Kingdom

Mobile Network Experience Report
April 2021

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Sam Fenwick Senior Analyst

Key findings

Vodafone forces a tie with EE on Games Experience

While EE was the inaugural winner of our Games Experience award in our last report, this time round it has become a joint winner alongside Vodafone due to a statistical tie between the two operators’ scores. EE and Vodafone along with O2 placed in the Fair category, while our 3 users observed a Poor Games Experience. Opensignal’s Games Experience measures how mobile users experience real-time multiplayer mobile gaming when using different operators’ networks. Measured on a scale of 0-100, it analyzes how multiplayer gaming experience is affected by mobile network conditions including latency, packet loss and jitter.

EE’s lead on Download Speed Experience has increased by 3.4 Mbps

The average download speeds seen by our EE users has risen by a remarkable 4 Mbps (11.4%), while those of users on other networks rose by 0.2-0.6 Mbps, with our Vodafone users at the highest end of this range. As a consequence, EE’s lead over Vodafone increased from the 14.6 Mbps seen in our previous report to 18 Mbps, a rise of 3.4 Mbps (23.4%). In addition, EE’s score was double that of 3’s and 2.3 times that of O2.

O2 users have seen the largest improvement in Upload Speed Experience

While EE continues to hold the Upload Speed Experience award and Vodafone remains in second place, it was our O2 users that have seen the largest increase in their average upload speeds since our last report — 1 Mbps (17.2%). Their counterparts on both EE and Vodafone saw their speeds increase by 0.4 Mbps, while 3’s Upload Speed Experience score increased by a more modest 0.2 Mbps. As a result, O2 is no longer in last place as it statistically tied with 3 for third place.

EE has regained its Excellent Video Experience rating

While EE continues to hold the Video Experience award and has done so ever since we launched it in the UK back in April 2019, the operator suffered from a small set-back in our previous report as its score dipped below the 75-point threshold required for an Excellent rating. This time round, EE has regained this accolade as its score rose by two points to reach 76.2 out of 100. All three of its rivals have remained in the Very Good category and although their scores have risen by 1.5-1.7 points, they still have a fair bit of ground to make up before they can expect to join EE in the Excellent category. An Excellent rating indicates a very consistent experience across all users, video streaming providers and resolutions tested, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling.

EE wins once more on 4G Availability and pushes past the 95% mark

Impressively, EE is the outright winner of our 4G Availability award for the eleventh time in a row. Our EE users also spent 0.8 percentage points more time connected to 4G than in our previous report, taking its score above the 95% mark — an impressive achievement for any operator. However, as Vodafone’s score increased by 1.9 percentage points to 89.6% EE’s lead shrank slightly from 6.1 to 5.6 percentage points and Vodafone pushed past O2 to take second place. Our 3 users observed the largest improvement in 4G Availability — 4.1 percentage points — to reach 83.9%.

Introduction

EE remains the dominant operator as it has won the most Opensignal awards again, but its position has declined slightly since our last report, because Vodafone has caught EE on Games Experience and now jointly wins that award with EE. Vodafone has also once again retained the Voice App Experience award. However, EE continues to be unassailable in terms of download speeds, with its lead in this regard rising by 3.4 Mbps to a remarkable 18 Mbps.

All four operators have improved in their 4G Availability and 4G Coverage Experience scores since our last report and neither they nor the UK government have forgotten the importance of establishing a strong 4G foundation on which to build 5G. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced in March that it is set to release £500 million to pay for new mobile sites in rural areas where there is currently no mobile coverage as part of the Shared Rural Network (SRN) project. As part of the SRN, the UK’s four national operators will invest more than an additional £530 million in a shared network of new and existing phone masts to address areas where there is currently coverage from at least one, but not all operators. EE said in February that it will upgrade its 4G network in more than 500 areas this year to extend coverage in rural areas across the UK as part of the SRN. 110 areas have already been upgraded with a further 469 scheduled for this year. As part of the SRN, 3, O2 and Vodafone will build and share a total of 222 new mobile masts to improve rural coverage, with each operator leading on 74 of these. O2 continued to invest in the rollout of its 4G network in 2020, which it claims has resulted in a ‘...4G boost to circa 180,000 postcodes across the UK over 2020’. Meanwhile 3 announced that it has added 10 Gbps backhaul to more than 3,200 sites. It has also added support for 20 MHz of 1400 MHz spectrum to 1,500 of its sites and plans to upgrade more sites in the same way over the course of this year to increase mobile capacity.

In this report we examine the mobile network experience of the four main mobile network operators in the U.K.: 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone, over a period of 90 days starting December 1, 2020 and ending February 28, 2021, to see how they fared. We have used 5G measurements in addition to those from previous generations of mobile network technology when determining the overall scores for each award. Also, we have published a companion report — United Kingdom 5G User Experience Report — which analyzes the 5G experience.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, United Kingdom
April 2021, United Kingdom Report
Video Experience
Games Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
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Mobile Experience Awards Winners
April 2021, United Kingdom
Video Experience
Voice App Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
4G Availability
4G Coverage Experience
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
April 2021, United Kingdom
Games Experience
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
Video Experience
in 0-100 points
3
68.0
EE
76.2
O2
70.6
Vodafone
69.6
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

Video Experience

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
3
68.0
EE
76.2
O2
70.6
Vodafone
69.6
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

Games Experience

Games Experience
in 0-100 points
3
60.8
EE
73.5
O2
68.7
Vodafone
73.1
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Voice App Experience

Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
3
78.1
EE
80.2
O2
79.7
Vodafone
80.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Download Speed Experience

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
3
19.3
EE
39.0
O2
17.3
Vodafone
21.0
0 10 20 30 40
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

Upload Speed Experience

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
3
6.8
EE
9.1
O2
6.7
Vodafone
8.1
0 2.5 5 7.5 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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4G Availability

4G Availability
% of time
3
83.9
EE
95.3
O2
89.3
Vodafone
89.6
0 25 50 75 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

4G Coverage Experience

4G Coverage Experience
in 0-10 points
3
9.1
EE
9.8
O2
9.7
Vodafone
9.3
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

More about Methodology

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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