Most reliable mobile network revealed as EE

Mobile network EE beats all rival networks when it comes to reliable mobile signal, according to an independent research across 267,000 miles of the UK.

The BT-owned network recently angered customers with an eye-watering 4.1 per cent price hike. But it has come out on top for mobile data, speed, reliability and the performance of calls and texts with a score of 93.7 out of 100. 

Of the four major networks – EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three – O2 performed the worst across all categories, according to the RootMetrics data.

EE offers faster speeds in most areas, with only a few places receiving slow speeds 

EE was the reigning champ for overall performance for the whole of 2017 in fact. 

In the first six months of 2017 EE scored 91.3 out of 100, improving to 93.7 during the second half of the year.

A spokesman for EE said: ‘We continue to invest heavily in our mobile network, and that’s reflected in today’s report. This is a hugely competitive market, and it’s vital to us that we keep giving our customers the best possible network experience.’

Next on the leaderboard sits Three at 92, followed by Vodafone at 90.1 and O2 bringing up the rear at 87.2.

O2, part of Spanish-owned Telefonica, could claw its way up the rankings according to the analysis, if it improved performance in rural areas. 

A spokesman for O2 said: ‘Different network surveys produce different results. Ofcom’s 2017 service quality report recognised O2 as having higher customer satisfaction for mobile reception than EE or Three, for example. 

‘More recently O2 was awarded best network coverage by uSwitch as determined by consumer votes. We continue to invest £2million every day to improve the network experience for all of our customers.’ 

Regional winners

The figures show slight differences in coverage and performance in each country. 

Looking just at Northern Ireland for example, O2 performed much better than UK-wide figures would suggest, 

Testing put it in line with rivals with an overall score of 92.1 out of 100, only 0.4 points below EE and Vodafone at 92.5 followed by Vodafone at 92.4.  

In the first half of 2017, Vodafone held the top spot with a score of 89.1. 

O2 meanwhile was found to have slow speeds in more rural areas

O2 meanwhile was found to have slow speeds in more rural areas

Turning to the best network in Wales, EE also takes pole position with a score of 90.9, out of 100 from RootMetrics, followed by Three with 89.8, Vodafone at 83.9 and O2 at 79.3.   

At the start of last year however Three held the top spot in Wales with a score of 87.9 compared to just 71 from the worst performing network according to testing, O2.

EE has reigned supreme in England since 2013. 

The most recent figures give EE a score of 94 points, again Three takes second place with 92, Vodafone in third at 90.5 and O2 at 87.5.

How does your network's speeds compare? Three's connection is slow in very few areas

How does your network’s speeds compare? Three’s connection is slow in very few areas

Top networks: EE has outperformed rivals for the past two years in the UK 

Top networks: EE has outperformed rivals for the past two years in the UK 

How networks were scored

The research was conducted using a Samsung Galaxy S8 phone. RootMetrics manually carried out 4.6 million tests, travelling 267,000 miles and visiting nearly 9,000 indoor locations.

It checked how reliably and quickly customers can send and receive text messages and how reliable each network was when it came to placing and maintaining calls.

It also checked the strength of the connection and speed customers could upload and download files, including emails, apps and webpages.

Tests were also carried out to measure the reliability of mobile internet, calls and texting services and the speed of each carrier’s mobile internet access. 

Vodafone scored poorly in the west of Scotland and several other rural areas

Vodafone scored poorly in the west of Scotland and several other rural areas

But what about customer service and price?

Unfortunately all four major networks have announced price rises in the past week, which will affect even those mid-contract thanks to small print that lets them raise prices in line with RPI inflation each year.

O2 customers will see a 4 per cent jump from April, EE is hiking prices by 4.1 per cent. Three and Vodafone customers will have to wait to find out how much their bills will rise until March’s inflation statistics are released by the Office for National Statistics.

According to recent figures from Ofcom, Vodafone was the most complained about mobile network with 10 complaints per 100,000, followed by BT at nine and Talk Talk and Virgin Mobile at eight.

Tesco Mobile (which piggybacks off the O2 signal) only had one complaint for every 100,000 customers, while EE, Three and O2 all had three.

Figures from Which? last year revealed EE and Vodafone as the worst networks in its annual customer service satisfaction survey. 

Provider Data/ calls/ texts package Monthly cost Contract length Total contract cost Free gift
Three 12GB/ unlimited/ unlimited £14 12 months £168 Gobinge – free streaming
O2  20GB/unlimited/unlimited  £20  12 months  £240   
Virgin mobile 4GB/ 1500/unlimited £9 12 months £108
Smarty mobile 2GB/ unlimited/ unlimited £7.50 1 month £7.50 Discount on unused data
Plusnet  4GB/unlimited/unlimited  £10  1 month  £10   
giff gaff 6GB/ 1000/ unlimited £15 1 month £15
Vodafone 5GB/ unlimited/ unlimited £10 12 month £120