June 3, 2014

Latest RootScore tests show EE is still leading, but the other networks are catching up


RootMetrics carries out perhaps the most exhaustive series of tests a mobile network could ever undergo and scores them for their call, internet and text performance in various cities across the UK.

Last year EE led the pack in almost every area across every city and in many cases it was light years ahead of the competition. So far this year it’s a similar story, with EE still leading the way, but the competition is really starting to catch up.

The most recent four tests covered the first half of 2014 in Leeds / Bradford, London, Liverpool and Manchester. In the Leeds / Bradford tests EE achieved an overall score of 90.0, while Three followed with 86.6, O2 trailed further behind with 80.3 and Vodafone brought up the rear with 76.9.

EE was unsurprisingly the fastest network too, with its speed score (which judges speed not just of internet but also to make and receive calls and texts) of 85.4, while O2 followed with 70.1, Three with 66.9 and Vodafone with 66.1.

Mobile internet is still the main source of EE’s overall lead. It scored 91.9 for that, while Three followed with 82.3, O2 with 68.3 and Vodafone with 66.5. But in other areas EE doesn’t have such a lead. For network reliability Three actually comes out on top with a score of 92.7, while EE scores 92.4, O2 81.0 and Vodafone 78.5.

Call performance sees a three way tie between O2, EE and Three, with Vodafone only a little worse off and Text performance once again sees EE at the top with 95.6, but the other networks are nipping at its heels, as O2 scored 94.3, Three scored 93.9 and Vodafone scored 93.2.

The scores in other cities are largely similar, with a few exceptions. In Liverpool Vodafone got the second best overall score of 94.6, compared to EE’s score of 94.7. Vodafone also scored highest for reliability and calls there.

Text and call performance is brilliant for every network in every tested location as you’d hope and while EE leads for mobile internet performance in all of these locations its lead isn’t as pronounced as it is in Leeds and Bradford. In Liverpool for example EE has a score of 95.6, while Vodafone scores 90.2, Three scores 85.0 and O2 scores 84.4, so there’s really not a lot to choose.

What does all this tell us?

The most obvious point to highlight is that EE’s days as indisputably the top mobile network may be numbered, even for 4G, which has been the main source of its lead until now. It’s hard to predict how things will go in the next year or two but based on this data the other networks seem to be stepping their game up and as all the networks begin to bring comprehensive 4G coverage to the UK there is likely to be less still to choose between them.

It’s also worth noting that Vodafone is making a marked improvement. While last year the network came last on almost all of these tests, this year it’s starting to leap ahead in some locations, even giving EE a run for its money.

All of this is surely good for consumers who can feel safe in the knowledge that whatever network they’re on they should expect good performance, while the fact that EE is now feeling some competition may push it to make big improvements and in turn spur the other networks on.

Ultimately we’re well on the way to a fully 4G enabled UK and with the competition heating up we’re likely to see higher speeds, greater coverage and lower prices sooner rather than later.

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