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UK 4G availability increases again

Mobile networks in the UK improved at a solid rather than spectacular rate over the past six months with LTE availability and overall speed increasing, according to the latest report from OpenSignal.

OpenSignal crowdsourced data comes from 890 million samples collected from more than 61,000 devices over a three-month period, with the company claiming this offers a real world glimpse into how networks are performing.

EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator, dominated testing, and was named the fastest 4G, 3G and overall network. It registered an average speed on 29.02Mbps on 4G, ahead of Three on 22.5Mbps, Vodafone on 20.7Mbps and O2 on 15.16Mbps.


EE tied with Vodafone in 4G and 3G latency, and its 4G service was available 88.6 percent of the time. However O2’s was available on 83.4 percent of occasions and Vodafone’s 79.5 percent – agonisingly close to breaking the 80 percent threshold. Meanwhile, Three trailed with a figure of 66.64 percent.

This increased availability boosted overall speed, that is the average rate on either a 4G or 3G connection. EE led again with 25.64Mbps, followed by Three on 16.73Mbps, Vodafone on 16.72Mbps and O2 on 13.7Mbps.

In a separate report published last month, OpenSignal found that the average 4G speed in the UK was slower than 28 countries in Europe, although network improvements meant it ranked much better for availability. Legal wrangles and early adoption of 3G meant that it wasn’t until late 2012 that the first UK 4G network went live, and there is a conscious attempt by the mobile industry to avoid a repeat with 5G.

However OpenSignal suggests that Ofcom is becoming concerned about progress with 4G and might make more demands of the UK’s major operators. Indeed, it has cited better coverage as one of its priorities for 2018-19.

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