Mobile/Wireless Testing

EE, Vodafone Share Top Marks in UK Wireless

The results of a recent benchmarking of UK wireless services have given rise to a bit of a good news/bad news situation. The good news is for wireless customers, who now have three providers (out of four) who offer service rated as "good."

Once networks are indistinguishable by traditional criteria (largest network, fastest network), the basis of competition shifts to a new set of metrics for performance and customer service based. That could be more good news coming for customers.

The potential bad news is for the providers themselves. Meeting those new criteria requires new technologies and skill sets, which rarely come cheap, and new business tactics, some of which can work to the detriment of margins.

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EE and Vodafone tied for first in the benchmark, both achieving a score of 803 out of 1,000. Suggesting that a name may in fact be destiny, Three came in third, with a score of 778. O2 tagged behind at 747 points, placing itself in the "satisfactory" ratings category.

The testing was conducted by P3 Communications, a consulting company based in Germany. The company conducts tests in 13 UK cities, a range of smaller towns, and along 2,000 miles of major roads. The tests include measurements of voice quality, file upload and download speeds, web-browsing performance, and even evaluate the differences in performance while walking or driving.

P3 said this is the first time since it began benchmarking of wireless service in the UK in 2014 that three companies were rated as "good."

P3 slices and dices the data finely. One example it provided was its evaluation of wireless coverage in London, where it said all four networks improved their services. Vodafone was the overall winner, scoring 548 points out of possible 675 attributed to this specific benchmark, but O2 had best performance in voice service, while EE had best performance in data services. 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.

CEO Dirk Bernhardt told Light Reading that wireless companies could use the data from the report to identify their strengths and weakness and use that information to shape their competitive strategies. One company's service might be better for business purposes as opposed to general consumer use and in contrast to a rival's enterprise service, for example.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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