UK best mobile networks revealed - but there's a catch

Mobile customers across the UK may find themselves struggling for a consistently reliable connection, according to new figures that show performance is split depending on which country you are in.

The latest research from Rootmetrics found that no one operator was able to provide a continually strong performance across the four nations, with EE, Vodafone and Three all claimed top spot in different countries.

Whilst EE took top spot in England (and the UK overall), Vodafone was found to be the top performing network in Northern Ireland, whilst Three came out best in Scotland and Wales.

"These latest results have really shaken things up and show the increasing competitiveness in the UK, particularly over the last six months," said Scott Stonham, general manager of Europe for RootMetrics.

"EE continues to lead the way, but Three and Vodafone are close behind. What is clear is that each operator showed strong performance in at least one particular country, while nobody was able to sweep the board at the four-nations level. UK consumers have strong mobile options depending on how and where they use their devices most."

Three also won the award for overall reliability across the UK, with Vodafone also claiming the Call Performance award.

O2 was not able to come out on top in any region, perhaps due to its ongoing takeover bid by Three, meaning the company may have been distracted elsewhere.

When it came to overall 4G performance, EE also offered the widest-reaching network, stretching to 90 per cent of the population, ahead of Vodafone (82 per cent) and O2 (81 per cent).

“To succeed, mobile operators must secure sufficient radio spectrum and invest in the necessary equipment, sites and operational teams to ensure consumers enjoy fast reliable mobile broadband,” added Ian Fogg, senior research director for mobile and telecom at IHS Markit.

“With new UK spectrum allocations soon to be auctioned in the run up to 5G, these performance results provide a snapshot on the competitive balance between the UK mobile operators now, and highlight which operators most need to acquire new spectrum capacity if they are to be a future mobile performance winner.”