UK MOBILE OPERATOR Three now offers the fastest 4G download speeds in the UK, according to a new report from OpenSignal, although the operator is lacking when it comes to coverage.
The OpenSignal State of Mobile Networks: UK April 2016 report, in conjunction with Which?, cast its eye over the state of 4G in the UK and made a surprising discovery. Three has overtaken EE for the first time to offer the fastest average 4G download speeds at 18.66Mbps compared with 17.84Mbps.
O2's average 4G download speed is 12.06Mbps, followed by Vodafone on 11.76Mbps.
"Three's LTE improvement is notable. On paper at least, EE should have a much faster network than Three. EE has upgraded portions of its 4G network with new spectrum and new LTE-Advanced technologies, which theoretically can support more than double the speed of Three's network," OpenSignal said.
EE isn't too pleased about all this, and said to the INQUIRER in a statement: "EE's 4G network provides unparalleled coverage in the UK and our customers enjoy the best 4G coverage and speeds. Our 4G coverage currently covers more than 95 per cent of the population, and we continue to invest in providing even more capacity and coverage for our customers right across the UK.
"We encourage anyone researching mobile operators to look at a variety of sources including widely-accepted accounts of the population’s current mobile coverage – this study, as well as the latest research from both Ofcom and Root Metrics show that EE is head and shoulders above the competition."
OpenSignal credits Three's lead to the fact that EE's upgraded network is available only in London, meaning that a large number of the network's customers are still making do with slower speeds. EE also has three times the number of customers as Three and therefore has more devices competing for 4G capacity.
EE needn't feel too down, however, as Richard Bacon and Co takes the lead when it comes to overall average download speeds. EE's average, which includes 3G and 4G, came in at 11.14Mbps compared with Three's 9.05Mbps.
This is because EE's coverage ranks better than Three's. OpenSignal said that Three's customers get a 4G signal only 40 per cent of the time, while the figure for EE customers is more than 60 per cent.
O2 and Vodafone had scores of 56 per cent and 57 per cent respectively.
Overall, the UK is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of 4G performance, offering an improvement in speeds but struggling when it comes to the extent to which customers can actually use it.
"While some countries are struggling to catch up with the rest of the world in 4G speeds, the UK has an entirely different problem," OpenSignal said.
"UK LTE networks keep getting faster, but LTE coverage just isn't advancing at the same pace. While regulators and operators are already looking ahead to the 5G data networks of the future, mobile consumers today are still spending nearly half their time connected to 3G networks."
Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?, said that Ofcom needs to up its game to ensure that boosting 4G coverage across the UK is a priority.
"Almost everyone now uses a mobile phone service and it’s not good enough that the UK is lagging behind so many countries with our 4G network coverage," he said. "Increasing 4G access s hould be a priority for mobile providers and Ofcom must continue to push them to make this a reality." µ
Oh and it'll also help give aural pleasure
But it might still not be enough to make virtual reality super appealing
And a ridiculous competition
Now you can talk to your silly-looking earbuds too