Mobile broadband speeds – O2 come out top

A study performed by Ofcom has revealed some possible problems for Orange and T-Mobile. The new “Everything Everywhere” joint venture had average download speeds that were slower than 3, Vodafone and O2. The information, which comes from a massive 4.2 million speed tests, shows some key differences in average performance across networks….

– O2, Vodafone and 3 delivered on average faster download speeds over a 24-hour period than Orange and T-Mobile; O2 was faster than all the other operators in the peak evening period of 8-10pm.
– O2 had on average lower latency than 3, Orange and Vodafone over a 24-hour period.
– Web page download tests (downloading the full HTML – but not the images – from some of the UK’s most popular web sites) found that on average O2 delivered pages faster than the other four operators.

The average download speed based on data dongles found was 1.5Mbit/s and urban areas performed much better. Even in areas with good 3G/HSPA coverage, the study found that there was still big differences in the quality of service provided over the data connection.

During testing there were much fewer 3G / HSPA connections on Orange, as can be seen on this diagram below. The green section shows the amount of “2G” (GPRS /EDGE) connections achieved..

Mobile broadband speeds   O2 come out top

This chart shows the average download speeds by operator and the time period. This can show us whether there’s heavy contention on the network during peak times. See what happens in the green section below on the Three network – these are tests performed between 8PM and 10PM. It seems that speeds are almost halved. That said, they’re still around the same speed as the best Orange results in the “Off Peak” times..

Mobile broadband speeds   O2 come out top

Read the full report here. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.

Links – Mobile Broadband ResearchFull report
Credit – BBC News

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  • I will attest to this.  My Orange data connection is sketchy at best!  And I live in a major city! 

    So much so my other half has told me on many occasions she’s sick to the back teeth of my complain about Orange all the time. opps!

  • I don’t know where they tested O2, but it’s nowhere me or my wife have been with O2 phones!!
    Struggle to get 3G, let alone fast 3G…

  • When I ran my own speed tests in central london, which I’ll grant you were probably less than scientific (downloaded a 10 meg file 10 times and averaged) I found that Orange were worst, O2 (well, it was GiffGaff but same thing) came second and Three came out on average far better than the rest.

    Surely these stats of Ofcom’s are highly localised – do they publish where they actually get them?

    My experience with Three since starting to use a PAYG sim with a £15 One Plan add-on for testing in the last couple of months has found them to be significantly better – both in terms of data speed and reliability but also in terms of the core phone quality and reliability.  Orange has been progressively becoming more and more of a disaster in the last few months – I definitely will NOT be renewing my contract with them when it expires, and currently Three are leading the race for the next contract… If O2 had a similar deal to the One Plan then that might make them a much stronger competitor though, it has to be said.


  • Paulvallen

    Sadly, I only get acceptable download speeds with Orange when I’m connected via 3G+; otherwise, I can sit and wait for ages, with barely any data being downloaded at all.  It seems to be this bad only since they merged with T-Mobile (although I can’t be 100% sure).  Unless something changes before my contract is up (over a year to run) I will not be renewing with Orange, despite several years of custom.  Things have changed and we are more demanding on data now – Orange need to keep up…

  • Des

    Speeds are definetly dependant on location, as here in Bristol center, my O2 is consistantly getting 4Mb/4.3Mb as at 21:00, with 3 lagging behind at 1.8Mb/2.2Mb. On several occasions 3 was reporting to be running at 2kb :o