EE launched their 4G network in late 2012

New reports from independent tester RootMetrics measures network downloads, coverage, and reliability across the capital.

A new independent report on mobile networks in London has shown that 4G operator EE has climbed the rankings to take the capital’s top spot, whilst Vodafone has sunk to the bottom.

The tests, carried out by RootMetrics, measured a combination of network coverage, data speeds, and call success rates for all four major operators. Ranked from best to worst the operators are: EE, Three, O2 and Vodafone.

In terms of network reliability – how often users can connect to and consistently use their network – Vodafone came last, scoring 92.3 out of 100. O2 was next worse with 94.6, followed by EE with 97.2 and Three with 97.8.

Call success rates were fairly solid for all four networks: EE was the most reliable with only 1.8 per cent of calls dropped, just edging out O2 with 2.1 per cent.  Vodafone again performed the worst in this category with 4.8 per cent of calls failing to connect – a figure rising to 7.7 per cent on commuter routes. Anything over 5 per cent failure rate is considered poor service.

In terms of average upload and download speeds, 4G network EE predicatably came out on top with an average upload speed of 8.4 Mbps and download speed of 13.6 Mbps. Three was the next best for downloads and uploads (5.5 Mbps and 1.8 Mbps respectively), followed by Vodafone with 4.8 Mbps download and 1.4 Mbps uploads. O2 came last in the speed ranks – 3.2 for downloads and 1.2 for uploads.

In terms of how these numbers translate into real actions, a 3-6 Mbps speed would mean posting a picture to Facebook would take less than 15 seconds, streaming music takes a 5 second buffer, and streaming HD video  would be difficult, with dropped frames.

The area covered in the test was the London Larger Urban Zone –from Tunbridge Wells in the south to Saffron Walden in the north, and from Southend-on-Sea in the east to Maidenhead in the west.  Further from the centre of London brought expectedly lower speeds and coverage.

The results also showed that London now has faster mobile internet than New York, despite the fact that the latter clocked in download speeds four times faster than London’s as recently as October.

One of the major outcomes of the reports was highlighting the speed with which operator reliability can switch around. “While all operators have broadly upped their game in the last eight months, some have achieved less than others, leading to a major reordering of the rankings,” said RootMetrics CEO Bill Moore, “Londoners may not think that the service provided by a mobile network can shift so dramatically so quickly.”

The full report can be read here.