5G Experience Report United Kingdom September 2021

United Kingdom

5G Experience Report
September 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

EE users still see the fastest download and upload speeds using 5G

EE is the winner of the 5G Download Speed and 5G Upload Speed awards for the second report in a row. The operator scored 131.9 Mbps for 5G Download Speed — 21 Mbps ahead of second-placed O2’s 110.9 Mbps. EE also commanded a comfortable lead of 1.5 Mbps (12.3%) on 5G Upload Speed — EE scored 13.8 Mbps versus Vodafone’s 12.3 Mbps.

5G Availability and 5G Reach are jointly won by 3 and Vodafone

While 3 won the 5G Availability award outright in our last report, this time around it has had to share the glory with Vodafone as the two operators’ scores are statistically tied. 5G Availability measures the amount of time users spent with an active 5G connection. In our first look at 5G Reach in the U.K. — Opensignal’s measure of how 5G users experience the geographical extent of an operator’s network — 3 and Vodafone are joint winners of the award.

Vodafone and O2 share the 5G Games Experience award

In our inaugural look at the multiplayer mobile gaming experience on 5G connections in the U.K., our users on O2 and Vodafone observed the fewest connectivity-related issues with their gameplay. The two operators placed in the Good (75-85) category, while 3 and EE ended up in the Fair (65-75) category. A Good 5G Games Experience means that most users deemed the experience acceptable. The gameplay experience was generally controllable and the user received immediate feedback between their actions and the outcomes in the game. Most users did not experience a delay between their actions and the game.

Our users on EE and O2’s networks had the best 5G Video Experience

EE and O2 again share the 5G Video Experience award as their scores have remained statistically tied, while being significantly higher than those of 3 and Vodafone. The two winners, as well as 3, placed in the Excellent (75 or above) category for 5G Video Experience. But Vodafone was the only operator on which our users saw a Very Good (65-75) experience instead.

Three operators share the glory for 5G Voice App Experience

Our users perceived no statistically significant difference between EE, O2 and Vodafone’s 5G networks when using over-the-top voice apps such as WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger. 3 placed in the Acceptable (74-80) category, while its rivals placed one category higher with a Good (80-87) rating.

Introduction

Our latest report on the UK’s 5G experience shows that the country’s 5G networks are still relatively nascent, as our users with both 5G smartphones and 5G plans are still spending less than 10% of their time connected to 5G. In addition, they saw 5G in less than a quarter of the locations they visit on average. However, on three of the operators, our users spent more time connected to 5G, compared to our last report.

While EE has the same score as Vodafone for 5G Reach, its confidence intervals do not overlap with those of the highest scoring operator, 3, and therefore it is not tied with 3 as a joint winner.

3 said in August that its 5G outdoor population coverage had reached 30%. Meanwhile, EE is seeking to hit the 50% mark by early 2023 and achieve more than 90% landmass coverage by 2028. In August, Vodafone’s 5G service was live in was live in 123 towns and cities. The operator is also pushing ahead with 5G standalone access (SA) technology. Vodafone launched a commercial SA pilot in June, which includes a dedicated slice for Coventry University that will provide it with low-latency services to enable virtual reality distance learning. In Opensignal's first analysis of SA where it has already been deployed — on T-Mobile’s network in the USA — we saw early signs of an enhanced 5G experience.

5G appears to be helping EE’s competitors close the gap on download speeds. While EE is the winner of both the 5G Download Speed and Download Speed Experience awards (the latter in our companion report), EE’s 5G Download Speed score shows the least improvement — when compared with those of the other operators — over Download Speed Experience in percentage terms. EE’s 5G Download Speed score is 2.6 times faster than its Download Speed Experience score, while O2, 3 and Vodafone’s 5G Download Speed scores are 6.4, 5 and 3.9 times faster than their Download Speed Experience scores, respectively. However, as seen in our companion report, 5G users on EE’s network observed the fastest speeds on average when weighted by the proportion of time they spent on each generation of mobile technology (Download Speed Experience – 5G Users).

In comparison to our companion report — which looks at the overall experience of all our users across all generations of mobile technology — the awards are spread much more evenly, with every operator taking home at least two joint wins. EE is the only operator to win awards outright — the 5G Download Speed and 5G Upload Speed awards. It is also a joint winner for 5G Voice App Experience — as part of the three-way statistical tie alongside O2 and Vodafone — and shares the 5G Video Experience award alongside O2. Vodafone has the second largest haul with four joint wins to its name — including the 5G Games Experience award, which was also won by O2.

In this report we examine the mobile network experience of our 5G users when connected to 5G on the four main mobile network operators in the U.K.: 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone, over a period of 90 days starting June 1, 2021 and ending August 29, 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
September 2021, United Kingdom Report
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
5G Download Speed
5G Upload Speed
Download Image
Mobile Experience Awards Winners
September 2021, United Kingdom
5G Download Speed
5G Upload Speed
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
September 2021, United Kingdom
5G Availability
5G Reach
5G Video Experience
5G Games Experience
5G Voice App Experience
Download Image

Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
5G Availability
in %
3
7.4
EE
5.5
O2
4.7
Vodafone
6.4
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
7.4
EE
5.5
O2
4.7
Vodafone
6.4
0 1.875 3.75 5.625 7.5
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

5G Reach

5G Reach
in 0-10 points
3
2.3
EE
1.9
O2
1.5
Vodafone
1.9
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Video Experience

5G Video Experience
in 0-100 points
3
76.1
EE
77.5
O2
77.7
Vodafone
72.8
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Games Experience

5G Games Experience
in 0-100 points
3
70.7
EE
72.8
O2
75.3
Vodafone
76.9
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Voice App Experience

5G Voice App Experience
in 0-100 points
3
79.8
EE
80.5
O2
81.1
Vodafone
81.0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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5G Download Speed

5G Download Speed
in Mbps
3
103.9
EE
131.9
O2
110.9
Vodafone
73.3
0 33.75 67.5 101.25 135
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

5G Upload Speed

5G Upload Speed
in Mbps
3
11.6
EE
13.8
O2
9.3
Vodafone
12.3
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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