EE tops UK 5G speeds charts

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RootMetrics says the fast speeds produced by the UK’s 5G networks suggest huge potential but there is still low availability across the the nation's largest cities.

The independent testing firm conducted the tests as part of its biannual report on the state of the UK’s four major mobile networks. 

This latest data isolates the performance of 5G services from those of 4G and 3G and shows there is a significant speed advantage when it comes to next-generation networks. 

UK 5G networks

As the first operator to launch a 5G service last summer, EE is unsurprisingly in the lead when it comes to a broad combination of 5G availability and speed. Indeed, it is the only network with a presence in all 16 cities tested.

RootMetrics says Vodafone’s 5G service, which is available in 11 cities, delivers consistently fast speeds but has room to improve in terms of availability.

Three delivered impressive 5G speeds, including the fastest median and maximum in any single city (193.7Mbps in Leicester and 478.1Mbps in Liverpool), but availability was also low. O2 had the lowest availability of any 5G network but testers said speed results showed potential.

EE’s 5G network was available on 40.2 per cent of occasions in Birmingham – the highest rate of any operator in any city. Vodafone’s best score was 16.8 per cent in Brighton, Three achieved 15.4 per cent in Birmingham, while O2 reached 0.6 per cent in Belfast.

All of these recordings will obviously improve as each operator continues to upgrade existing sites and build out new ones (O2 added new locations only this week) . However the tests at this early phase of rollout demonstrate the speed potential of 5G networks – especially in major cities.

New spectrum and the launch of standalone 5G services that don’t rely on 4G core technology will be of particular note. RootMetrics says the latency performance of UK operators’ 5G networks is broadly similar to that of 4G.

However Standalone 5G will lower this to the point that some of the more revolutionary industrial and consumer applications – such as the Industrial Internet of things (IIoT) and Virtual Reality (VR) will be possible.

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.