This document outlines the results of Ofcom’s research into the performance of the retail 3G and 4G services offered by the UK’s four national mobile network operators (MNOs): EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
Following the conclusion of the 4G spectrum auction in February 2013, Ofcom stated that it would conduct research into the performance of 3G and 4G networks, with the intention of helping consumers understand the performance benefits of 4G over 3G.
The research outlined in this report was conducted between March and June 2014 in five UK cities where 4G services were available from all operators. Our methodology involved using smartphones to measure four key metrics that determine data connection performance: download speed, upload speed, web browsing speed and latency (measured through ping tests).
To provide context to the results, this report also includes 4G coverage information for each of the operators and highlights recent consumer research that Ofcom has undertaken in relation to consumers’ use of smartphones and their attitudes towards, and use of, 4G services.
We note that network performance will only be one element in a customer's decision to upgrade to a 4G service, and this report is part of a wider programme of work by Ofcom into mobile quality of service, which also includes consumer experience of mobile phone calls.