Subscribe For Free

Battle of the brands

Paul Withers
April 1, 2014

We visit some of London’s top music venues to assess Vodafone, O2 and EE’s data data speeds

Music venues are notoriously a black spot when it comes to using a mobile phone, especially when it comes to data.

We’ve all been guilty of spending too much time peering through the screen of your mobile, hoping to capture that perfect shot of your idle, or to upload a blurry, light soaked inaudiable video to YouTube.  But sending your work – or even something a simple as updating your Facebook location can often be too much – with users having to wait until after the final encores have finished and the crowds dispersed to share their evenings entertainment.

London calling
With that in mind, Mobile News took the sreets of London, visiting 10 of the UK leading venues, including the O2 Arena (does sponsorship guarantee top signal?) and the world famous  Round House in Camden in an attempt to see how well EE, Vodafone and O2’s respective networks could handle themselves.

Unfortunately, given our test was performed on a cold wet late blue monday afternoon, the stars of the stage and their adoring fans it seemed were all having a day off.  Still, the show must go on.

Armed with an HTC One Max handset and three 4G ready SIMS we headed to our first venue, the Hammersmith Apollo (formerly Hammersmith Odeon) where some of the UK most successful bands, Queen, Pink Floyd and The Who to name but  a few have all performed.

But who would top the charts this time around?

Hammersmith Apollo

The ex-HMV venue, the Apollo, was uber-famous in the ’70s and ’80s when it was the Hammersmith Odeon. It’s now more famous for the “Live at the Apollo” comedy shows but still a hotspot for great gigs. EE was again front-of-stage with a stand-up 35.16Mbps, while O2 and Vodafone were less entertaining, with 17.74Mbps and 13.53Mbps, disrespectively.

Electric Ballroom

Camden’s Electric Ballroom is a great rock venue. It might not be an O2 venue but O2 had the quickest connection of the day – an incredible 54.79Mbps. Vodafone was second with 23.61Mbps, while the Kevin Bacon team hit a comparatively low 16.82Mbps. Cue applause for O2. Encore!


The Roundhouse

Moving up to Chalk Farm, the Roundhouse is the home of the month-long iTunes Festival in September.  EE generated a winning 22.32Mbps, while O2 and Vodafone speeds slumped to 6.13Mbps and 6.56 Mbps respectively.


Our third Camden venue was Koko. Previously known as the Camden Palace, it’s a nightclub and venue for everything from dance music raves to heavy metal mosh pits. The three networks didn’t put on much of a variety performance. EE topped with 27.2Mbps but O2 was a good second place (25.42Mbps) while Vodafone was a tad behind,with 23.72Mbps.


The Islington venue,  Surya puts on shows from independent and small-scale artists. It’s a 10-minute walk from the O2 Academy, a distance that wasn’t kind to connection speeds. EE halved to 19.58Mbps, with O2 and Vodafone lagging at 13.9Mbps and 12.49Mbps, respectively. Still excellent compared with 3G.

The Forum

Before it felt the financial squeeze, HMV owned The Forum in Kentish Town, where up-and-coming bands strut their stuff. EE tuned up with 30.22Mbps and O2 struck a chord with 25.81Mbps. Vodafone was still warming up with just 12.72Mbps, leaving it third on this bill.

O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire

The Shepherd’s Bush Empire is another O2-sponsored venue and attracts big-name arena bands such as Muse, Stereophonics, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam looking for the occasional intimate gig. This time O2’s 23.04Mbps played second-fiddle to EE’s 25.24Mbps. Vodafone was still trying to keep up with its 18.88Mbps.

O2 Academy Islington

Next up was the O2 Academy in Islington’s N1 Centre. Despite hosting lesser artists and secret gigs, it’s a kind of 4G nirvana. EE headlined with an astonishing 46.47Mbps, O2 supported with 44.23Mbps, Vodafone was third on the bill, with 26.81Mbps. Still excellent compared with 3G.


O2 Arena

From the mess that was the Millennium Dome has emerged the world’s most popular arena venue. Practically every major band or artist has performed at the O2, but do we get gigantic connection speeds? Well, yes. O2 topped out with 23.42Mbps. EE hit 20.15Mbps but Vodafone trailed in at 9.25Mbps.


If the cavernous O2 arena isn’t to your taste, try the Indigo2 in the same building. This is a much smaller, intimate space for top bands that can’t or won’t fill the big arena. Curiously, O2 got a slower 4G speed than in the arena, at 19.11Mbps, beaten by 25.22Mbps from EE but exceeding Vodafone’s 12.32Mbps.

Share this article