Ofcom: 4G meeting consumer expectations


Average 4G speeds in five cities tested by regulator were nearly three times quicker than 3G, with upload speeds eight times faster 

Ofcom has found that 4G is meeting consumer expectations after its latest round of tests revealed 4G is delivering a significantly enhanced” mobile experience.

Using smartphones, the regulator collected more than 120,000 4G and 3G test samples both indoors and outdoors across Edinburgh, Leeds, London, Newcastle and Poole/Bournemouth in Q4 2014.

All four operators included in the study – EE, O2, Vodafone and Three – had both 4G and 3G coverage in these selected locations.

EE delivered the fastest average 4G download speed (18.6Mbps) with Three the slowest (8.5Mbps) while overall the average 4G download speed was 14.7Mbps compared to 5.9Mbps for 3G – almost three times as fast.

Overall, 97 per cent of test samples across the four operators provided speeds of above 2Mbps, which Ofcom said was typically sufficient to support high capacity video services.

Three was the quickest on average web browsing over 4G, with an average of 0.63 seconds to load a web page, with EE the slowest (0.77 seconds). The 4G average was 0.72 seconds compared to 1.04 seconds on 3G.

EE however delivered the quickest upload speed (17.6Mbps), while Three was the slowest (9.4Mbps), with the overall average (13.6Mbps) eight times faster than 3G (1.6Mbps).

Latency samples, which is the responsiveness of the network, measuring the delay of transferring data to and from a consumer’s device, were also taken.

This was found to be more consistent that the other measures across the 4G networks tested, coming in at an average of 53.1 ms compared to 63.5ms on 3G. EE had the lowest average latency on 4G at 48.4ms, with Vodafone the quickest at 59.5ms.

In the five towns and cities tested, the fastest average 4G speeds across all four networks were in Poole/Bournemouth and Newcastle at 15.6Mbps and 15.3Mbps respectively. This compared with 14.8Mbps in Leeds, 14.7Mbps in Edinburgh and 13.2Mbps in London.

Ofcom also stated EE’s 4G network now covers 81 per cent of UK homes and businesses, up from 68 per cent in June 2014. O2 and Vodafone have increased their 4G coverage to 66 per cent and 65 per cent respectively, up from 43 per cent and 37 per cent in June 2014. Three’s 4G coverage was reported here for the first time, reaching 53 per cent in March.

Ofcom consumer and content group director Claudio Pollack said: “4G is delivering a significantly enhanced mobile experience and, as these services roll out across the UK, our research will support consumers when choosing the right mobile package for their needs.”