EE has been named the UK's best operator in the latest benchmarking assessment by testing services company P3, but rivals O2 and Three have lost ground on the market leaders.
Operators were scored out of 1,000 in the P3 report according to voice, data and crowdsourced performances. The UK's biggest operator was deemed to have "excellent" voice and data performances across its network, scoring 871 out of 1,000, dubbed "very good" by P3, and coming 53 points ahead of second placed Vodafone.
The report said EE had impressively improved both its voice and data performance during the past 12 months.
However, testers found second-placed Vodafone delivered voice services on par to EE's in large cities and outpaced the incumbent in London. In some locations during walking tests, Vodafone also was the best performing operator for YouTube playbacks. Overall, Vodafone scored 818 and was graded "good".
Third placed Three lost some ground on its 2016 network performance figures, although P3 did not specify why. Its main strengths were in voice and data in smaller towns, as well as along connecting roads. The report said: "Three offers reliable connections with a suitable performance." The operator was also deemed "good" by testers, scoring 754.
Fourth placed O2 also lost ground on rivals, again for unspecified reasons. The report noted that the UK's second biggest operator outperforms Three for voice quality in some of the UK's larger cities. It scored 667, a "satisfactory" performance.
Hakan Ekmen, Managing Director at P3 communications, said: “High-quality connectivity is essential to the UK’s future quality of life and competitiveness, so it is encouraging that three of the four main operators have been ranked as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
"In 2018, over-the-top content services, technologies like carrier aggregation and voice over LTE as well as crowd-sourcing based measurements, will become more important. This will make next year’s results even more exciting.”
Responding to the report, EE CEO Marc Allera said: “Another independent network test, and another win for EE thanks to our commitment to investing in more coverage and a better customer experience. Our results on voice performance are particularly important – we launched 4G Calling to give our customers the best quality phone calls, and that technology is now really proving its value.”
A report from P3 rival Rootmetrics from earlier this year found that both Three and Vodafone were making up ground on EE.
P3 looked at the Swedish market earlier this month, finding Telia was the country's best performing network thanks to the quality of its data services.