O2 mobile broadband fastest in Ofcom broadband speed tests
O2 mobile broadband loads web pages faster than any other network according to research by Ofcom, while T-Mobile and Orange have the slowest mobile broadband speeds.
The regulator carried out 4.1 million speed tests across the country and found the average download speed across all five mobile broadband network operators to be 1.5mbps. Areas of better mobile broadband coverage received 2.1mbps on average, with urban areas tending to outperform rural areas primarily due to better 3G coverage.
Orange and T-Mobile – the two companies who together form Everything Everywhere – came bottom of the tests, while Vodafone and 3 came second and third respectively.
Which? Mobile Broadband satisfaction
Predictably Ofcom’s report concluded that speed depended greatly on location, saying that typically urban areas outperformed rural areas – although it also warns that performance is patchy even in towns and cities, and a city centre location is no guarantee of fast download speeds. It also found that average speeds were slower during peak evening times between 8pm and 10pm.
Many of Ofcom’s findings mirror the Which? Broadband satisfaction survey, which found that customers can find mobile broadband slow and unreliable.
In our survey, O2 achieved the highest overall Which? Customer Score for its mobile broadband services. In terms of customer satisfaction with speed specifically, Which? members rated Vodafone the slowest, while 3 achieved the highest rating.
Pros and cons of mobile broadband
Which? mobile broadband expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘Ofcom’s previous fixed line broadband speed tests have given prospective customers great insights into what speeds they can realistically expect compared to headline speeds. Which? has found that mobile broadband has a poor reputation among its customers for speed and reliability, so it’s great to Ofcom’s large scale speed tests being expanded to mobile broadband.
‘Mobile broadband can be a great option for those who want to get online on the move or who need the flexibility of PAYG broadband, but Ofcom’s test results go to show you shouldn’t expect super-speeds, and may have to be patient with inconsistent coverage.
‘We hope that these issues will be addressed by Ofcom’s 4G mobile broadband spectrum auction early next year; if speed and coverage improves as a result, mobile broadband could finally offer a viable alternative for those who struggle to get a decent fixed-line broadband service. ‘
Which? advice pages outline the pros and cons of mobile broadband so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Ofcom’s report also revealed that 17% of UK households are using mobile broadband, with 7% using it as their only internet connection (up from 3% in 2009).
Ofcom’s mobile broadband speed tests, which looked at mobile broadband via dongles and data cards - not on smartphones - took place between September and December 2010 in partnership with broadband monitoring specialists Epitiro. Ofcom plans to carry out further research into mobile broadband in the future, including assessing the performance of smartphones.
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