EE and Vodafone UK shared top spot in P3’s network performance test, thanks to strength in data and voice respectively.
Three of the four operators (EE, Vodafone and 3 UK) achieved a “good” rating, which has never happened in the three years of its testing in UK, the consulting firm said.
O2, which scored 747 points overall, earned a “satisfactory” rating.
EE and Vodafone emerged with the same score of 803 points (out of a possible 1,000), followed by 3 with 778 points.
Vodafone made the biggest improvement on last year’s results, coming out best in the benchmarks measuring voice-call quality.
Vodafone credited its performance to a £2 billion investment in its network and services since 2014, the largest in its history, and upgrading or installing more than 5,000 4G-enabled mobile sites over the last year.
It plans to invest a further £2 billion over the next three years, to accelerate the expansion and upgrading of its network with the addition of around 400 new base stations every month.
Meanwhile, EE lost ground in the voice category, but was strongest in the testing scenarios for data transmission, including services such as web-browsing, transferring files and playing HD YouTube content.
3 lost the top spot in the voice category it achieved in last year’s tests, but had a strong set of results for voice-quality along roads and in smaller towns.
In London, all four networks improved their services. Vodafone was the overall winner. O2 had best performance in voice service and EE had best performance for data.
Performance by all the operators in London continued to be better than in the rest of the country, but the difference is narrower than last year.
“Our tests are good news for the UK’s mobile customers, because for the first time three networks are in our ‘good’ category, even though this year’s tests were the toughest yet,” says Hakan Ekmen, CEO at P3.
“All operators have improved compared to 2015’s exercise and further developments are expected in the coming year with Voice over LTE and extended 4G coverage,” he added.
The tests measured the quality of performance provided by the UK’s four networks using a range of benchmarks in 13 cities, a range of smaller towns and along 2,000 miles of major roads.