If you’re a regular reader here you’ll probably be well aware that EE has greater 4G coverage than O2, Vodafone or Three, and that’s true not just in tricky rural locations, but also in the cities that all the networks are present in.
In a recent test, RootMetrics compared the four operators in 14 of the UK’s 16 most populated metropolitan areas, namely Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Bradford, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, and Sheffield.
What about the other two? That would be Newcastle and Hull, and while RootMetrics did test in these locations too it didn’t get enough samples to make an accurate coverage assessment. But elsewhere the tests were comprehensive.
Although RootMetrics hasn't listed how many tests were carried out, it's explained that it carries out its tests across a large part of each city's landmass, rather than limiting them just to, say, the city centre. Note however that it's just testing whether or not you can get a 4G signal, not how fast it is or any other aspects of performance.
In the cities where samples were forthcoming, EE beat out rivals in every single case, achieving coverage of over 90% in 11 of the 14. Only Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow were below, and they sat at a still very high 86.5%, 89.1% and 89.4%.
|Market||EE 4G%||O2 4G%||Three 4G%||Vodafone 4G%|
|Leeds and Bradford||90.0||80.8||61.0||82.1|
Edinburgh was the only city where rivals even got close, with O2 achieving 86.6% 4G coverage and Vodafone managing 88.4%, while Three turned in just 55%.
Indeed, Three’s scores were generally the worst across the board. The network didn’t break 90% coverage in any metro area, coming closest in Manchester with 81.7%.
But even O2 and Vodafone only topped 90% in three cities, with both networks managing it in Belfast, Liverpool and Manchester. EE’s best 4G coverage was found in Liverpool, with 99.8% covered.
The takeaway here is that – unless you’re on EE – you can’t count on comprehensive 4G coverage even in major cities, but the news is broadly good. Even Three managed coverage of over 60% in most locations, and O2 and Vodafone got close to 90% in many. With the networks improving all the time it hopefully shouldn’t be too long before comprehensive urban 4G coverage is offered by all of them.
Useful : Check coverage on all UK mobile networks here.