Liverpool clawed its way to the top by gaining a full percentage point over its performance in the last six months of 2015, finishing with a RootScore of 95.5, ahead of Belfast at 95.4, Edinburgh at 95.2 and Manchester at 95.2.
Rootmetrics, a company which measures mobile network performance, conducted the tests based on parameters like data speeds, calls and text performance on nearly 395,000 test samples across the sixteen cities. The average score was computed on the basis of performance observed on the four major networks- EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
While Liverpool topped the overall rankings, Manchester offered the best data and text performance. In terms of data speeds, Liverpool offered the most consistent performance but didn't top in the list of cities offering the best median download and upload speeds. London offered the best median download speed of 29.9 Mbps while Manchester offered the best median upload speed of 14 Mbps.
London just managed to reach the top ten in terms of overall performance, but its performance improved from the last six months of 2015 when it finished in 13th place. "The improvements we’ve seen in London’s rankings are indicative of the steps that operators are taking to tackle the challenges of providing excellent mobile service in high-density areas. We hope to continue to see improvements to performance across all cities in the UK, as operators work to ensure a good overall mobile service across these cities’ infrastructure,” said Scott Stonham, RootMetrics General Manager of Europe.
Like in the last six months of 2015, Cardiff and Hull retained their places at the bottom of the list of 16 cities, scoring 87.5 and 86.5 respectively. Glasgow, which finished 14th, has a healthy lead of nearly four percentage points over Cardiff. Overall, five cities scored in excess of 95, three cities between 94 and 95 and and another two between 93 and 94, which signifies that the competition between the 16 metros is now closer than it ever was.
“Despite not coming first in any individual category, Liverpool’s high performance across all categories has secured it the top spot overall in our weighted averaged rankings. Yet it’s not just Liverpool that is showing improvement. Our capitals are showing great promise, with Edinburgh rising into the top five, Belfast finishing in the top two in the country and London’s improvements,” added Stonham.
While mobile network performance continues to improve in UK's cities, the story isn't as rosy in other parts of the country, especially in rural and less-inhabited regions. The ‘State of Mobile Networks: UK’ report, published by OpenSignal in association with a consumer group named Which? in April revealed that a mobile subscriber will be able to access 4G just 53% of the time if he/she travels across the UK. If you are an EE subscriber, you will be able to access 4G 60.6 per cent of the time, while Vodafone and O2 subscribers have to make do with 4G access 57 per cent and 56 per cent of the time respectively. Three finished bottom of the charts, offering 4G access to its subscribers across the country just 39.8 per cent of the time.
“Almost everyone now uses a mobile phone service and it’s not good enough that the UK is lagging behind so many countries with our 4G network coverage. Increasing 4G access should be a priority for mobile providers and Ofcom must continue to push them to make this a reality,” said Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?.
“While it’s clear the UK is making progress in building out powerful 4G networks, it’s obvious there is still some work to do to extend coverage further," said Brendan Gill, CEO at OpenSignal.
If you are planning to relocate to another part of the town or elsewhere, you can use Ofcom's Mobile Coverage Checker to search for the best available networks in specific regions. This online tool uses data from the big four operators, namely EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 to offer a consolidated summary of network coverage in any part of the country.