EE named best UK network once again but 5G gap is closing

(Image credit: EE)

The UK’s four major mobile operators are all making significant progress in the rollout of their respective 5G networks, according to testing by RootMetrics that suggests the gap in performance between EE and the rest is narrowing.

RootMetrics conducted nearly 650,000 tests across the UK during the first half of 2022, measuring metrics such as network speed, reliability and call and text performance to compile rankings it hopes provide networks and consumers with a snapshot of the current mobile market.

The results show EE and Three are “neck and neck” when it comes to delivering the best 5G experience in the UK.

UK 5G tests

Both posted availability scores of nearly 50%, compared to Vodafone and O2’s 35% and although EE offered more consistent speeds, Three edged ahead with median download speeds of 200Mbps compared to EE’s 150Mbps. All four networks recorded a 5G median download speed of at least 100Mbps in most major cities.

The results suggest that investments in 5G infrastructure could eventually loosen EE’s grip on the UK’s network crown as this mobile generation progresses. But, for now, EE’s traditional dominance remains unchallenged when all network technologies, including 4G and 3G, are taken into account.

The BT-owned operator came first in all seven categories tested, including speed and reliability, and was named the best network for the ninth year in a row.

There were some regional differences with Three performing well in Wales, while Virgin Media O2 offering excellent text results in all four UK nations.

“We are proud to be named the UK's best network for the ninth year running,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division. “Reliability is of huge importance to our customers, and we pride ourselves on leading the industry. I'm delighted to see the huge investments we make recognised once again and we will continue to expand the UK's leading 4G and 5G networks across the nation.”

Internet speed tester Ookla acquired RootMetrics late last year, hoping to combine the firm’s scientific methodology with crowdsourced data to create more powerful analytic and testing capabilities, along with new methods of testing and live event monitoring.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.