Attention, Brummie businesses and consumers: if you want 5G, EE is the place to go at the moment, with both availability and speeds comprehensively outstripping Vodafone’s performance in the city, new independent tests of 5G in Birmingham show.
IHS Markit’s RootMetrics took to the city to conduct 8,883 tests on EE’s and Vodafone’s new 5G networks between August 30, 2019 – September 21, 2019. (Three plans to introduce 5G in Birmingham this year; O2 plans to do so in 2020).
Using a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G (EE) and a Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G (Vodafone), the mobile network performance tracking company conducted tests across the city of 1.2+ million.
The findings on availability were stark: EE had a 51.6 availability rate, to Vodafone’s 10.8 percent, with the BT subsidiary also beating Vodafone on speed.
Across Birmingham, EE recorded a median 5G download speed of 185.7 Mbps, to Vodafone’s 112.2 Mbps, the report shows. (At such speeds a user could download a 600 MB video in 26.6 seconds and 43.5 seconds respectively.)
The figures lag 5G speeds elsewhere by some margin — RootMetrics has recorded speeds from Verizon of 1.1 Gbps in Chicago and from LG U+ of 902.7 Mbps in Seoul — and are also some way off early promises. (“Some customers will break the one gigabit-per-second milestone on their 5G smartphones,” EE said at its launch).
EE’s 5G network uses an array of technologies developed by Qualcomm, predominantly the Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform which uses a Snapdragon X50 5G Modem and Qualcomm Technologies’ RF Front-End module.
(Both EE and Vodafone are using the 3.5 GHz band, purchased in spectrum auctions held in early 2018. Vodafone won 50 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £378,240,000. EE won 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £302,592,000).
The test is the first of three: others will follow for Cardiff and London.
RootMetrics notes: “During our testing across the UK’s 16 largest metro areas in the first half of 2019, the single fastest median download speed we recorded was Vodafone’s 51.7 Mbps in Liverpool. The 5G speeds we found in Birmingham blow that number away: Vodafone’s 5G median download speed was more than twice that fast, while EE’s 5G median download speed was well over three times faster.”
With infrastructure very much in the early stages of being rolled out, the company said it expects both speeds and availability to improve notably.