4G is quicker than 3G, says Ofcom. Can't we get you on Mastermind, Sybil?

Doubts remain over accuracy of UK mobile broadband speeds

Fawlty Towers

Mobile broadband speeds in Blighty are pretty good, according to a new report from Ofcom, although concerns remain over the methodology used. The average mobile broadband download speed on 4G (15.1Mbps) was more than twice as fast as 3G (6.1Mbps) across all the networks.

Predictably, EE’s lead in launching 4G showed EE and O2 offered faster-than-average 4G download speeds at 18.4Mbps and 15.6Mbps respectively. Vodafone delivered an average 4G download speed of 14.3Mbps and Three, 10.7Mbps.

These figures look suspiciously high, and don’t reflect our London measurements. Also, unlike The Register's own Monopoly board survey which showed Vodafone with a clear lead on 3G speeds, Ofcom said EE and Vodafone delivered the fastest average 3G download speeds, at 6.8Mbps and 6.7Mbps respectively. This compared with average 3G speeds of 5.6Mbps for O2 and 5.2Mbps for Three.

The findings are also at odds with the GWS survey on commuter lines. Both that, and the Monopoly survey which GWS did for The Register, showed EE moving customers on to 4G for data and 2G for voice.

Testing is difficult. Every methodology has limits and it’s always possible to pick it apart, but against a background of the government’s crazy proposal to force operators to implement national roaming it would have been good to have had some hard data with which to understand the problem.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It can't be right that in a fifth of the UK, people cannot use their phones to make a call. The government isn't prepared to let that situation continue."

Just to make it clear, Javid is wrong. He’s confused people with places. What’s missing is geographical coverage, not population coverage.

Unfortunately Ofcom has failed to deliver. The testing released today wasn’t designed to show what coverage is like. It’s aimed at showing people who can get 4G what the difference is between 3G and 4G. It fails in that goal, too, because the testing was done in May and June - and in October Vodafone announced carrier aggregation and significantly increased the speed of a lot of its sites.

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