Written by Dave Andersen
The results are in. RootMetrics conducted over 600,000 tests in the second half of 2023 to measure the consumer mobile experience across the UK. To provide you with a complete picture of performance across all the spaces in which you use your smartphone, the following report shows how the operators fared across the entirety of the UK, the four nations, and 16 of the most populated metropolitan markets across the country (as defined by the Eurostat’s Larger Urban Zone or LUZ).
Note that while 5G usage in the UK is growing quickly, RootMetrics testing is designed to measure the consumer’s overall network experience, regardless of network technology. Until 5G reaches a point of ubiquity, looking at results recorded across all network technologies paints the most accurate picture of the end-user mobile experience.
To that end, most results in this report were recorded across all network types, but we’ve also included a high-level look at 5G results to provide insight into how 5G is impacting the consumer mobile experience. We’ve also introduced results from our inaugural round of Video testing to show what consumers can expect when streaming videos at the UK-wide level.
Read on to see how EE, Three, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone performed during testing in 2H 2023.
Overall key takeaways (alphabetized by operator)
EE remains the top-performing operator, winning the UK Overall RootScore Award for the 21st straight time: EE won or shared every UK-wide RootScore Award in 2H 2023, including its twenty-first consecutive UK Overall RootScore Award, allowing EE to earn honours as the UK’s best network for 10-plus years and counting. Likewise, EE shined at the nation level, taking home a remarkable 28 Nation RootScore Awards out of 28 total opportunities. In more good news for users, EE also held a commanding lead in major cities, winning over twice as many Metro Area RootScore Awards as any other operator. EE also provided users with fast overall median download speeds (across all technologies), and the operator continued its trend of delivering a strong combination of 5G availability plus performance.
Three wins more awards in 2H 2023 and provides leading 5G results in the UK: Three was the only operator whose RootScore Award total improved in major cities, allowing Three to edge past Vodafone and take home the second most Metro Area RootScore Awards behind only EE. Three also earned two more awards in nation-level testing since 1H 2023. Three once again registered good overall speed results in major cities, and the operator’s top combination of 5G availability plus performance allowed Three to edge past EE and earn Best 5G honours in the second half of 2023.
Virgin Media O2 shows improved 5G availability and speed results: Virgin Media O2 kept up its improvement in major cities, showing faster median download speeds and expanded 5G availability in most of the 16 cities tested. The operator also delivered faster 5G median download speeds in over half of the cities tested. Virgin Media O2’s text results remained excellent, as the operator won or shared Text RootScore Awards in 12 of the 16 cities we tested.
Vodafone has another strong showing, with fast speeds and better 5G results: Vodafone’s 5G results showed strong improvement, with the operator increasing its 5G availability and 5G median download speeds in most of the markets we tested. In fact, Vodafone was the only operator in 2H 2023 to register 5G median download speeds above 100 Mbps in all 16 cities. Vodafone also fared well at the UK-wide level, finishing in second place behind EE in six out of seven performance categories while sharing the UK Text RootScore Award with EE.