Mapping 4G speeds in London: A road test with EE's LTE network

Mapping 4G speeds in London: A road test with EE's LTE network

Summary: 4G is finally here, but how good is it? And does it vary depending on where exactly you are? I took to the London Underground to map out some average download and upload speeds around London, to see how EE's 4G fares.

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  • EE's 4G LTE network is now live in 11 UK cities, promising users download and upload speeds five times faster than 3G, according to the company. But can it deliver on its promises - and are those speeds possible indoors as well as out?

    To try and get a fair representation of speeds in different parts of the capital, I visited a number of stations in the north, south, east and west of the city.

    To carry out the test I used a Samsung Series 5 Slate running Windows 8, a Huawei E589 4G Mobile Wi-Fi unit, and the website Speedtest.net.

    Over the course of the day I visited Shepherd's Bush, Oxford Circus, Tech City, Canary Wharf, Clapham North and Newington Green. You can click on any of the markers below for a breakdown of the speeds, or click on the link below for a full-size version of the map.


    View London EE 4G reception and speeds in a larger map

    Check out the following pages for a first-hand take on how the new network performed.

    If you are an EE 4G customer and live in London, get in touch with your speed test results and we'll add it to the map.

  • As you might expect, the outdoor locations largely saw better 4G coverage for the Mi-Fi unit and mostly delivered faster download and upload speeds than indoors.

    However, there were a number of examples where that wasn't the case - where upload speed was faster than the download, or where indoor speeds seemed better than outdoor.

    For example, the image above shows the results for Old Street, Shoreditch - home to Tech City. The outdoor test showed results of around 15Mbps up and downstream, and a ping time of 41ms. 

    The indoor test, performed about 20 feet away from the outdoor test, returned download speeds of around 9.5Mbps and upload speeds of 2.36Mbps. Despite the decrease in reception and speeds, the ping result was actually faster than outdoors, at 26ms; this was also the case in some of the other tests in multiple locations that returned lower indoor speeds than outdoor.

  • The slowest indoor speed test was performed at Canary Wharf and returned a result of just 5.86Mbps (pictured), whereas the fastest indoor speed test was carried out in Newington Green, and returned a speed just below 20Mbps.

    Similarly, the fastest outdoor speed test was in Shepherd's Bush with a download speed of 17.3Mbps. The slowest outdoor test was once again in Canary Wharf and returned results of around 11Mbps.

    Overall, from my day travelling round London using the service in different areas, one thing is clear: the speed is far more reliable, and far faster in most cases, than you could expect on a 3G service.

    However, while the speeds observed were certainly ample for anything I wanted to do while on the go, there were no examples in the 30Mbps or even 40Mbps ranges - as I had observed at an earlier hands-on testing before the service went live.

    For the record, an EE spokesman told me again on Wednesday that the speeds delivered by its 4G service were not capped or limited.

    It is also interesting to observe that in many cases, the less densely populated areas (Newington Green and Clapham North) returned far better indoor speeds than busier locations. However, it's likely that as more people sign up to the service, the average speeds seen could well drop below the levels they're at now.

Topics: 4G, Mobility, Networking, Telcos, United Kingdom

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • UK 4G price plan is too much...

    Better stick with 3G or wifi until the prices come back to earth.
    owlllnet