O2 declared 'most reliable operator' across UK despite recent network outage

Photo of the O2 logo taken outside a branch in London

O2 has retained its position as the most reliable network operator across most locations in the UK despite a high-profile outage this month that saw data services knocked offline for nearly 24 hours.

Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) measured the reliability of four network operators including O2, Three, EE and Vodafone and found that O2 was deemed the most reliable in 17 of 28 UK towns and cities across the UK.

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Market Most reliable network

GWS Reliability OneScore Winners by Market

Telecoms rival Three ranked second, with respondents suggesting it was the most reliable in nine towns and cities including London, while Vodafone and EE were considered the most reliable in just one city apiece; Birmingham and Hull respectively.

"While a lot of focus is being placed on 5G, 2018 was the year when consumers voiced their ongoing concerns about the importance of network reliability," said GWS' CEO Dr Paul Carter.

"In unstable economic times, it's also important to look at the difference between business and consumer requirements from their networks while a dropped call for a consumer is an annoyance, it can have damaging "bottom line" consequences for a business."

Businesses in the North of England meanwhile, according to the research, generally experienced a better quality of connectivity and network reliability in 2018 than firms based in the South.

This comes in light of a previous GWS poll found that 76% of IT business decision makers said their business 'suffers' when they receive anything less than excellent mobile coverage.

The North East and North West topped the table for business mobile network connectivity, of 12 regions across the UK assessed, while Greater London came bottom, beaten by the South East in 11th and the South West in 10th.

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Region Business network connectivity
North East1
North West2
East Midlands3
Northern Ireland5
West Midlands6
Yorkshire & Humber7
East of England8
South West10
South East11
Greater London12

GWS Business OneScore Rankings

"The government has committed to driving forward technology for businesses across the nation, not just the South East," Dr Carter continued.

"And our regional Business OneScore results indicate that the network investments operators are making in the North of the country are beginning to pay dividends in helping to bridge the economic North/South divide.

"However, the fact that London comes last should alert to challenges ahead in serving the UK's biggest working population and this is something that must be addressed in 2019 and beyond."

Voice calling was the most important criteria for businesses when selecting a mobile operator this year, according to the research, with phones also being used as by 64% of firms surveyed as mobile hotspots to support network access.

For 60% of businesses, moreover, a key priority over the next decade is to better support employees occasionally working from home.

The quality of 4G signal across UK motorways was also found to have dramatically improved in the last 12 months, with data showing improvements on all motorways tested against the previous year. In fact, the best motorway in early 2017 was the M60 with 82% 4G availability, while the worst motorway in the latest findings is the M23 with 90% availability.

Availability on the M6 doubled to 94% over the last year and a half, the biggest improvement recorded, while the M60 boasted 100% 4G connectivity when measured.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet
Features Editor

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.