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Ofcom finds 4G is over twice as fast as 3G mobile broadband speeds

Ofcom has published some new research into mobile surfing speeds, in its first look at the mobile landscape since the 4G auction and subsequent super-fast rollouts across the UK.

The report looked at relative 3G and 4G performance on smartphones in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Manchester, on the major networks: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. It consisted of some 210,000 speed tests, undertaken indoors and outside, by Ofcom engineers between March and June earlier this year.

The results showed that the average 4G download speed was 15.1Mbps (slightly higher than some other recent stats we’ve seen, but still around the same ballpark), which was considerably faster than the 3G average at 6.1Mbps, as you’d expect. Actually, that’s a pretty solid figure for normal 3G surfing…

Results varied between networks of course, with EE boasting the fastest 4G speeds at 18.4Mbps, followed by O2 with 15.6Mbps. Vodafone (which topped another survey for 4G) was a little behind O2 on 14.3Mbps, but still fast enough – only Three lagged behind on 10.7Mbps.

When it came to 3G, the operators were all pretty tightly grouped, with EE top of the tree at 6.8Mbps, followed by Vodafone on 6.7Mbps, O2 on 5.6Mbps, and Three was unfortunately last again on 5.2Mbps. It would seem Three’s speeds aren’t the best if you’re in a major city, though it has fared better in other performance metrics for 3G across the country as a whole.

When it came to the cities themselves, the highest average download speed across all operators was recorded by Edinburgh at 16.8Mbps on 4G and 7.8Mbps on 3G, with London being the slowest on 13.1Mbps and 4.1Mbps (doubtless due to the volume of 4G users in the capital).