The rollout of 5G in the UK is increasing speeds and customer satisfaction as the availability of next-generation networks increases, according to new research from Ookla.
Data accumulated from the company’s Speedtest app showed that median download speeds have remained stagnant in recent years.
A modest increase from 21.44 Mbps in the first half of 2019 to 23.96 Mbps the following year was recorded, but this figure rose to 29.96 Mbps in 2021. Since the median LTE download speed has slightly decreased at 23.01 Mbps over the past 12 months, it’s clear that 5G is having an impact.
5G speeds in UK
“This increase in the UK in the first and second quarters of 2021 is due to a dramatic increase in the number of consumers switching to 5G service,” the company said.
“According to Speedtest Intelligence, nearly seventy thousand additional customers performed a Speedtest on 5G in Q1-Q2 2021 compared to Q3-Q4 2020. 5G is inherently faster, increasing median download speeds. and we believe speeds will continue to improve as network operators continue to expand their 5G networks to reach more and more customers.
Among the carriers, three had the fastest 5G median download speed of 231.07 Mbps, ahead of Vodafone’s 159.49 Mbps, O2 155.4 Mbps and EE’s 11.74 Mbps. However, this partly depends on availability.
EE’s 5G network showed an uptime of 17.9 Mbps, compared to 10.3% recorded on Vodafone, 6.4% on Three and 5.4% on O2. Vodafone led the way in download speeds, beating EE in first place.
Encouragingly, customers are much more satisfied with their mobile operator if they use 5G rather than 4G, according to their Net Promotion Scores (NPS).
Compared to the rest of the world, however, the UK is in the middle of the pack. Median 5G download speeds of 167.38 Mbps and availability of 10.2% compare favorably to the rest of Europe, but lag behind South Korea and China.
The UK has faster speeds than the US, which has 49.5% uptime, but has lower download rates than most of its major trading partners.
However, with operators still in the early stages of their deployments, the situation will improve as coverage expands, technical upgrades are applied and new spectra are used.
A report released earlier this year by Opensignal presented conflicting conclusions: It found that EE had the best speeds and Three the most uptime. Although this report is based on data collected from a different methodology, it demonstrates the rapidly changing nature of the market.
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