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EE is worst network for London commuters using 3G

A study reveals the best and worst networks to use on the main commuting lines into London.

Helen Lock
Thursday 16 October 2014 11:40 BST
Commuters using their phones
Commuters using their phones

Commuters heading in to London can not yet rely on a strong internet connection or fully reliable reception, a study published today has shown.

Global Wireless Solutions, a network testing and benchmarking company, has tested the ten most popular commuter routes into London to see which mobile phone network held up the best.

They found that almost a third (30.3 per cent) of attempts to use the internet failed on average, and 1 in 7 (14 per cent) of phone calls failed.

The engineers testing the services also found that almost one in four 3G data packets (23.2 per cent) and over a third of 4G data packets (37.2 per cent) travelling across the networks of the four major UK phone operators didn’t make it to their intended destinations.

Of them, they ranked EE the worst network for 3G coverage – which was reliable 69.8 per cent of the time but EE was the best for 4G coverage – reliable 74.1 per cent.

The study found that the Three network was the worst for 4G coverage – only reliable 34.5 per cent of the time. While O2 was better at 3G coverage than 4G, Vodafone scored the highest overall for 3G coverage.

The study tested popular commuting lines, heading to stations like Liverpool Street and Charing Cross from the outskirts of the city.

The company’s engineers reported that they were on 2G with O2 for more than 60 per cent of the time while they were testing on the commuter trains, and they used “half-rate codecs” to handle 28 per cent of the calls during the testing. EE and Vodafone also relied on their old 2G networks around 40 per cent of the time.

The study found that failure to make a connection or use the internet was more likely when the train was travelling above 50 mph or below 5 mph – coverage was best at 5-50 mph.

Surprisingly they found it was trickier to use the internet when the train was stopped at station than in open space – whereas the opposite was true for making voice calls.

The worst station for trying to use a mobile phone – by a long margin, was St Pancras with 99 average connection fails, while Radlett was second-worst at 53.

The chief executive of Global Wireless Solutions said: It’d be great to see networks, rail operators and station-masters taking the lead on improving connectivity for commuters – rather than having to be dragged into the 21st Century kicking and screaming.”

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