5G User Experience Report United Kingdom April 2021

United Kingdom

5G User 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

3 users spend the most time connected to 5G in the UK

3 wins Opensignal’s inaugural 5G Availability award in the UK. Our 5G users spent the largest proportion of their time connected to 5G (6.5%) when using 3’s network — one percentage point ahead of second-placed EE’s score of 5.5%. However, Vodafone and O2 were further behind with scores of 4.6% and 3.3%, respectively.

O2 and EE jointly win the 5G Video Experience award

While our users enjoyed an Excellent (75 or above) 5G Video Experience on all four operators’ networks, EE and O2 statistically tied at the top to win the award, with scores of 81.3 and 80.6 points out of 100, respectively. 3 was a little way behind with a score of 79.3 while Vodafone was last placed with a score of 76 points.

EE wins the 5G Download Speed award by clocking up speeds of 140 Mbps

EE’s winning score is 35.9% faster than last placed Vodafone’s and is a comfortable 11.1 Mbps (8.6%) faster than second-placed O2’s score of 128.9 Mbps. Impressively, EE’s 5G Download Speed score is 3.6 times faster than the average download speeds seen across all our EE users in our companion report. 3 is in third place with a 5G Download Speed score of 115.9 Mbps, while Vodafone places last with 103.1 Mbps.

5G users have the best overall experience on EE for video, download and upload speeds

While 3 is the winner of our inaugural 5G Availability award, the greater proportion of time that our 3 users spent connected to 5G wasn’t enough to allow 3 to overcome EE’s lead on 5G Download Speed and Download Speed Experience (see our companion report for the latter) — and the corresponding metrics for upload speeds — which explains why EE was able to convincingly win the Download Speed Experience – 5G Users and Upload Speed Experience – 5G awards. These two awards look at the overall download and upload speeds observed by our 5G users, not just those seen when they are connected to 5G. EE wins the Download Speed Experience – 5G Users award thanks to a score of 68.6 Mbps, 22.3 Mbps (48.1%) faster than that seen by our 5G users on second-placed 3. On Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users, EE’s score of 11 Mbps was 2.6 Mbps (31.3%) higher than that of second-placed Vodafone. In addition, EE won the Video Experience – 5G Users award with a score of 78.2 points out of 100 — 4.3 points (5.8%) higher than second-placed O2’s score of 73.9. As a result, EE is the winner of all three of our awards that look at the overall experience of our 5G users.

Introduction

For the first time, Opensignal presents 5G awards in the U.K. We have analyzed our 5G users' experience across four 5G measures: the average speed when users have an active 5G connection (5G Download Speed and 5G Upload Speed), the time users spend connected to 5G represented by 5G Availability, and our users’ experience when streaming video while connected to 5G.

In addition we have also analyzed the overall experience of our 5G users across all generations of mobile network technology. The resulting award categories are: Download Speed Experience – 5G Users; Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users; and Video Experience – 5G Users. These measures combine the average experience that our 5G users see on 3G or 4G when they are not connected to 5G, with their average 5G experience, using the amount of time they spend connected to each generation of mobile network technology. Our 5G users have both a 5G smartphone and a 5G tariff.

Access to spectrum is vital if operators are to gain the additional capacity to offer users improved experiences alongside greater data usage in the 5G era. Back in 2018, Ofcom auctioned 150MHz of spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band along with 40MHz in the 2.3 GHz band. EE, O2 and Vodafone each obtained 40-50 MHz in the 3.4 GHz band while 3 obtained 20 MHz. In addition, in the most recent spectrum auction organized by Ofcom the four major operators parted with around £1.36 billion in the principal stage in March. This latest spectrum auction allocated 80 MHz in the 700 MHz band — rural 5G or for 5G signals to penetrate deeply inside large buildings — and 120 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band. Together, this boosts the amount of spectrum available in the UK for mobile use by around 22%.

EE obtained the largest amount of spectrum (80 MHz), while O2 acquired 60 MHz. Interestingly, Vodafone like EE and O2 obtained 40 MHz of spectrum in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band but no 700 MHz spectrum, while 3 was the reverse — claiming 2 x 10 MHz of 700 MHz. However, 3 already had 140 MHz of spectrum between 3.4GHz and 3.8GHz prior to this auction — partly due to its purchase of UK Broadband back in 2017. 700 MHz spectrum will help operators achieve wide-area, rural and in-building coverage, while the 3.6-3.8 GHz spectrum is most useful when high capacity is needed.

In this report we examine the mobile network experience of our 5G users on 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 also published a companion report — United Kingdom Mobile Network Experience — which analyzes the overall experience of all our mobile users in the U.K.

Opensignal Awards Table

5G Mobile Experience Awards, United Kingdom
April 2021, United Kingdom Report
5G Availability
5G Video Experience
Video Experience – 5G Users
5G Download Speed
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
5G Upload Speed
Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users
Download Image
Mobile Experience Awards Winners
April 2021, United Kingdom
5G Availability
Video Experience – 5G Users
5G Download Speed
Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
5G Upload Speed
Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
April 2021, United Kingdom
5G Video Experience
Download Image

Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Availability
in %
3
6.5
EE
5.5
O2
3.3
Vodafone
4.6
0 1.875 3.75 5.625 7.5
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

5G Availability

5G Availability
in %
3
6.5
EE
5.5
O2
3.3
Vodafone
4.6
0 1.875 3.75 5.625 7.5
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

5G Video Experience

5G Video Experience
in 0-100 points
3
79.3
EE
81.3
O2
80.6
Vodafone
76.0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

Video Experience – 5G Users

Video Experience – 5G Users
in 0-100 points
3
72.9
EE
78.2
O2
73.9
Vodafone
71.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

5G Download Speed

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
3
115.9
EE
140.0
O2
128.9
Vodafone
103.1
0 36.25 72.5 108.75 145
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

Download Speed Experience – 5G Users

Download Speed Experience – 5G Users
in Mbps
3
46.3
EE
68.6
O2
34.2
Vodafone
37.7
0 17.5 35 52.5 70
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

5G Upload Speed

5G Upload Speed
in Mbps
3
12.7
EE
16.4
O2
10.0
Vodafone
14.7
0 5 10 15 20
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users

Upload Speed Experience – 5G Users
in Mbps
3
7.6
EE
11.0
O2
6.2
Vodafone
8.4
0 3.75 7.5 11.25 15
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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