A new analysis published by Ookla, based on data from their Speedtest, on the current state of the UK’s 5G network performance during Q1-Q2 2021 gives a range of useful insights. These include that 5G is helping to lift stagnant mobile download speeds, that Three had the fastest median 5G download speed in the UK, while EE had the highest 5G availability. The analysis also showed Scotland had the fastest download 5G speed among UK countries, while England had the highest 5G availability.
UK can’t beat South Korea and China for 5G speed
Ookla’s Speedtest Intelligence found South Korea and China had the fastest median 5G download speeds among the UK’s top trading partners at 440.53 Mbps and 302.78 Mbps, respectively, during Q1-Q2 2021. Interestingly, the UK had the next fastest download speed on the list at 167.38 Mbps, edging out Japan (163.68 Mbps). The US had the slowest 5G download speed among the UK’s top trading partners with a median of 81.04 Mbps.
China had the fastest median 5G upload speed on the list at 46.31 Mbps, followed by South Korea (41.79 Mbps) and the Netherlands (33.16 Mbps). Upload speed in the UK lagged behind all other top trading partners except France at 15.91 Mbps.
US leads for 5G availability
Looking at 5G availability in the UK and its top trading partners via Ookla’s Speedtest Intelligence shows a wide divide between 5G availability during Q1-Q2 2021. The US led the way with 49.5% of consumers with 5G capable devices experiencing 5G connections a majority of the time. The Netherlands was second at 44.0% and South Korea third at 40.4%. The UK landed squarely in the middle of the list with 10.2% 5G availability.
5G is helping to lift stagnant mobile download speeds
After two years of stagnant speeds, Q1-Q2 2021 marked a noticeable upward trend in median download speed over all technologies in the UK. Q1-Q2 2019 started at 21.44 Mbps and speeds began rising as late as Q3-Q4 2020 to 23.60 Mbps before further increasing to 29.96 Mbps in Q1-Q2 2021. During this same period, 4G LTE download speeds remained nearly constant: starting at 23.50 Mbps in Q1-Q2 2019 and decreasing slightly over time to 23.01 Mbps during Q1-Q2 2021.
“This boost in the UK during Q1-Q2 2021 is due to a giant surge in consumers switching to 5G service. According to Speedtest Intelligence, nearly seventy thousand more customers performed a Speedtest over 5G in Q1-Q2 2021 than in Q3-Q4 2020. 5G is inherently faster, which boosts median download speeds and we suspect speeds will continue to improve as network operators continue to build out their 5G networks to reach more and more customers,” commented Ookla.
Three has fastest median 5G download speed in the UK
Speedtest Intelligence revealed operator Three 5G to be a clear winner during Q1-Q2 2021, with a median 5G download speed of 231.07 Mbps. Vodafone 5G followed at 159.49 Mbps, O2 was next at 155.54 Mbps and EE last at 151.03 Mbps. Vodafone had the fastest median 5G upload at 19.69 Mbps during Q1-Q2 2021, followed by EE (18.42 Mbps), 3 (13.65 Mbps) and O2 (11.74 Mbps). When it came to 5G availability, EE had the best at 17.9%, followed by Vodafone at 10.3%, 3 followed at 6.4% and O2 was last at 5.4%.
Scotland has fastest 5G download speed in UK
Ookla’s analysis showed Scotland had the fastest median 5G speeds in the UK during Q1-Q2 2021 at 178.30 Mbps download and 17.18 Mbps upload. Northern Ireland followed at 166.57 Mbps (15.67 Mbps upload) along with Wales at 166.04 Mbps (15.83 Mbps upload). England, which has a much higher 5G usage, had a median 5G download speed of 165.42 Mbps (15.81 Mbps upload). England did however lead for 5G availability among UK countries at 10.9%. Northern Ireland followed at 7.8%, Scotland was next at 5.3% and Wales was last at 4.4%.
EE has best 5G availability in England
As Wales didn’t reach Ookla’s statistical threshold for analysis for fastest median 5G download speeds, Mobile operator Three achieved the fastest median 5G download speeds in three UK countries during Q1-Q2 2021: England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Utilising C-band spectrum across the UK, Three achieved median 5G download speeds of 232.39 Mbps in England, 379.41 Mbps in Northern Ireland and 220.10 Mbps in Scotland.
Vodafone had the fastest median upload speeds in England (19.68 Mbps). Scotland was too close to call, though Vodafone had a median upload speed of 21.23 Mbps while EE was at 20.71 Mbps. Northern Ireland was also too close to call for median upload speed with 3 at 20.16 Mbps and EE at 20.08 Mbps.
EE had the highest 5G availability in England at 19.5%, while Scotland was too close to call. Northern Ireland and Wales showed too few samples to be analysed for 5G availability.
Glasgow has fastest 5G among major UK cities
Ookla also examined 5G performance in 10 major cities in the UK during Q1-Q2 2021 – it’s Speedtest Intelligence revealed Glasgow had the fastest median 5G download at 208.80 Mbps.