In the race between Vodafone and O2 to establish new 4G services, both networks are delivering strong – and similar – initial results. Mobile performance research company RootMetrics (www.rootmetrics.co.uk) conducted over 11,000 tests across central London over the five days immediately after O2 and Vodafone launched 4G, finding O2’s average download speed on a blend of 3G and 4G was 16.3 Mbps, whilst Vodafone’s average download speed was 16.2 Mbps. These blended speeds represent what most people will typically experience, since 4G is not available at all times.
Having launched its service late last year, EE remains out in front and has even improved its speeds from earlier in the year, now averaging a blended 3G-4G download speed of 22.7 Mbps (up from 17.3 Mbps in April).
When looking at the availability of 4G coverage, the two new services are both broadly available. Of the initial 310 miles within London and multiple indoor locations covered in the testing area, RootMetrics found 4G available in 69.4% of Vodafone tests compared to 63.9% on O2. To put this in context of other 4G launches RootMetrics has tested, both O2 and Vodafone’s 4G offerings look strong at the outset versus the 50% or so 4G that’s been seen on other networks.
Taking into account 4G only tests, average 4G only download speeds for O2 came in at 23.3 Mbps and achieved a maximum download speed of 65.8 Mbps, beating Vodafone’s 20.8 Mbps 4G only average and 57.7 Mbps maximum download speed. But here too EE’s established network leads the pack, with 4G only download speeds at 29.6 Mbps – 20 to 30% faster than its rivals. When it comes to 4G only upload speeds, O2 (12.6 Mbps) narrowly edged out Vodafone (11.3 Mbps).
To give a sense of what these speeds mean, 4G at the speeds now being offered would allow people to upload a typical smartphone photo to a social networking site in just about one second – as opposed to the 15 – 30 seconds it would take on a pure 3G network at the O2’s and Vodafone’s 3G only speeds. The time it now takes to download a song would be also significantly reduced: from about 25 seconds on a pure 3G network to 10 seconds or less on 4G.
Bill Moore, CEO and President of RootMetrics: “This first look at London’s 4G services bodes well for the new providers and, more importantly, for people who chose to sign up. EE has had the best part of a year to cement its place and remains the speed leader, but the early signs for O2 and Vodafone are very positive, especially when it comes to 4G availability. This is all good news for the consumer as uploading your pictures or downloading content on the move will become quicker and quicker as coverage expands and improves.”