UK 4G slower than most of Europe but availability is improving

The average 4G speed in the UK is slower than 28 nations in Europe, according to crowdsourced data from OpenSignal, but the continent as a whole is improving.

OpenSignal’s latest ‘State of LTE’ report measured speeds and availability across the world, using test data from nearly 5 million devices. It claims this gives the most accurate insight into the world’s mobile networks because tests reflect real world conditions.

East Asia and North America have typically been more advanced than Europe, where the early development of 3G networks meant it was a late arrival to the 4G party, but advances mean that only Russia and Belarus have speeds slower than the 16.9Mbps global average.


Singapore still leads the way with 44.31Mbps, but the Netherlands’ 42.12Mbps and Norway’s 41.2Mbps averages are faster than South Korea’s 40.44Mbps. Indeed, the fifth fastest was Hungary on 39.18Mps and half the top 10 nations were European.

The UK recorded 23.1Mbps, but this was still faster than Portugal and Germany, and OpenSignal praised how quickly Britain has managed to improve its “abysmal” LTE availability in a short space fo time.

Legal wrangles and early adoption of 3G meant that it wasn’t until late 2012 that the first UK 4G network went live, but availability is now 77.3 percent.

There are five countries – South Korea, Japan, Norway, Hong Kong and the USA – with availability of more than 90 percent as the focus turns to spreading coverage rather than advancing speeds.

Indeed, no country has broken the 50Mbps average barrier, but it is expected that LTE-Advanced will help in the near future.

“Europe is an LTE power today, and it’s only getting more powerful,” said OpenSignal. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t see other regions of the world challenging its 4G dominance in the future.

“Most of the developing world today is focused on extending the reach of their 4G networks — ensuring more people have access to mobile broadband. Once they’ve built out those networks they will turn their attention to speed. When that times comes, we might see Europe will need to step up its game in the battle for 4G supremacy.”

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.