BT's EE and Vodafone score top in UK

P3 Communications' latest study has placed EE and Vodafone as joint winners for data and voice performance in one of the UK's most comprehensive mobile network tests.

Overall, EE and Vodafone both scored 803 points out the possible 1,000 to place them in first. O2 came last, although it was the second most improved with a score of 747, and was noted for its voice service.

Despite falling behind its competition in P3's tests, it's not all bad news for O2 who only came second to Vodafone in posting the biggest improvement over last year's score.

While three of the four operators - Vodafone, EE, and Three - achieved the "good" status in P3's tests, O2 fell behind with a "satisfactory" rating.

P3 conducted drive and walk tests in 13 large cities in the United Kingdom, as well as drive tests in smaller towns and along trunk roads and motorways, using the latest LTE Cat 9 smartphones. The company said it covered around 14 million people or 23 percent of the United Kingdom population in the tests. EE, which has the fastest network and the widest 4G coverage, was strongest in web browsing, file transfer and high-definition video streaming on YouTube. Drive tests in cities and towns also revealed good performance by all four networks but drive tests in connecting roads and highways revealed poor voice performance, except on the Three network. O2 posted good results for voice.

The idea, P3 says, is to give the operators an idea of how their networks perform in "real life" scenarios. Vodafone was the overall victor, scoring 548 points out of possible 675 attributed to this specific benchmark. Here, Vodafone won with a score of 548/675 although O2 had the best voice and EE the best data. Performance by all the operators in London continued to be better than in the rest of the country, but the difference is narrower than previous year.

The independent benchmark methodology of P3 has become the leading resource for operators internationally and is highly anticipated by the operator community. "This is proof not only of the huge efforts the providers took in extending their networks, but is also evidence of the influence of the P3 connect Mobile Benchmark on the development of the country's networks", said the report.

At the same time, it allows a quantitative drill-down into each of the categories, with P3 using its own experience of scoring and reporting from other global benchmarks.

Walk tests were conducted using a trolley with battery pack and smartphones, while the drive tests involved two cars, each equipped with smartphones. The tests are as realistic as possible, with for example, background data traffic generated on smartphones during voice calls.

  • Carolyn Briggs