EE tops UK operator rankings once more

(Image credit: ee)

EE has once again been named the best mobile network in the UK according to RootMetrics testing that showed 5G is already having a minor impact on performance.

The BT-owned operator has come out on top in every single benchmark performed by RootMetrics and on this occasion was first or joint-first in all seven categories – including overall.

It also emerged as victor in reliability, accessibility, speed, data, and calls, sharing the text award with Vodafone.

Best UK mobile operator

EE was the only operator to register median download speeds greater than 30Mbps in all 16 major cities tested, achieving 50Mbps in half, and reaching 73Mbps in Manchester. These results reinforced the operator’s nationwide advantage. EE’s 42.6Mbps outpaces Vodafone’s 19Mbps, Three’s 14.1Mbps and O2’s 13.3Mbps.

Vodafone was noted as a solid second, pushing Vodafone close in several categories and performing well in major cities. Testers also noted improvements in O2 but it was pushed into last place by Three’s even greater advances. Reliability improved significantly in major cities and although speeds trailed EE and Vodafone, they were consistent.

RootMetrics conducted 535,000 tests across 750 locations to compile its report, offering an early insight into the performance of 5G.

EE was the only operator to have 5G in all cities tested and its next-generation network was available at least 21 per cent of the time in 12 cities. No other operator exceeded 17 per cent, while O2’s best was 0.6 per cent in Belfast.

In all 16 major cities, EE posted median 5G download speeds of at least 103.9Mbps. Three’s fastest median download speed was 193.7Mbps in Leicester, while Vodafone’s was 181.8Mbps in London – the fastest in the capital. O2’s most rapid median speed was 121.3Mbps in Belfast.

In rival testing by OpenSignal earlier in the year, EE delivered average 5G download speeds of 149.8Mbps and availability of 6.1 per cent, while Vodafone produced 122.1Mbps and 4.4 per cent.

RootMetrics says the improved performance among all operators reflects levels of network investment and said it was a close-run race in many categories. It also expects greater 5G availability in the coming months as rollouts continue.

“In our most recent testing, EE continues to be the UK’s leading operator in terms of performance and their early progression with 5G puts them in a good spot going forward,” said Kevin Halsey, Chief Commercial Officer at Vodafone. “However, given the recent news for the UK telecom sector, there is ample opportunity for Vodafone, Three and O2 to compete with EE.” 

“As the 5G era in the UK continues to ramp up, we will be here testing the networks to see how operators jostle for position and earn their market share. As our connected communities expand, it’s critical that we all understand how our networks truly perform.”

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.