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O2 Named Most Reliable Mobile Network


Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) has studied the performance of the UK’s mobile networks across 37 cities and other locations and determined that O2 is the best in just under half.

O2 performed the best in 14 out of 32 cities, including Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Norwich and Oxford. It also delivered the most reliable service on four major motorways: the M1, M6, M25 and M62. This is the second year in a row O2 has topped GWS's rankings, after performing the best in 18 out of 36 locations last year.

To evaluate mobile network performance across the UK, GWS engineers conducted a total of 1.2 million data and voice task tests through iOS and Android devices, using both 4G and 5G networks. The firm also polled customers about their experience on the networks between October and December 2020.

Its tests found that EE was the best bet in 15 cities, including Bradford, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Reading, and on smaller motorways. However, it’s falling short in delivering decent mobile broadband in customer’s homes. While 84% of O2 customers were satisfied with their mobile broadband speeds at home, as were 82% of Three and Vodafone subscribers, just 78% of EE customers said the same.

Vodafone’s network was the most reliable in three cities, Nottingham, Sheffield and Swansea, while Three’s didn’t pull ahead in any of the tested locations.

Overall, 39% of O2 subscribers are always satisfied with their network’s reliability, compared to 33% of EE customers, 31% of Vodafone users and 30% of Three subscribers.

However, O2 has the least developed 5G network. A separate study by RootMetrics studied how each operator’s next-generation mobile network performed in the UK’s 16 most populated metropolitan markets in the second half of 2020. 

While O2 has expanded its 5G network significantly since the first half of 2020, when RootMetrics was only able to test its 5G network in Belfast, it had expanded to 11 tested markets by the second half of the year. However, its 5G coverage remains limited in those cities, topping out at 17.1% in Hull and managing just 6.6% in Greater London. 

In contrast, EE had the best coverage in Nottingham (57%) and achieved coverage of over a third of ten major metropolitan markets.

Vodafone 5G’s coverage was best in Liverpool, at 44%, while Three’s 5G users will find the most coverage in Hull, at 29.6%.

GWS’s testing of 5G networks found that average speeds on the network from any operator exceeded 100Mbps in seven cities: Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester. Vodafone’s 5G delivered four of these speeds, while EE’s 5G accounted for the other three.

Barnsley O2
Belfast O2
Birmingham O2
Bradford EE
Bristol EE
Cambridge O2
Cardiff O2
Coventry O2
Derry EE
Edinburgh EE
Glasgow O2
Leeds O2
Leicester O2
Lincoln O2
Lisburn O2
Liverpool EE
London EE
M1 O2
M6 O2
M25 O2
M62 O2
Maidstone EE
Manchester EE
Newcastle Upon Tyne EE
Norwich O2
Nottingham Vodafone
Oxford O2
Paisley EE
Portsmouth EE
Reading EE
Sheffield Vodafone
Southampton EE
Swansea Vodafone
Warrington EE
Worcester EE
Worthing O2
Smaller Motorways EE

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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