back to article Fatty Brit 4G networks slow down. Too much Bacon, perhaps?

Brits clamouring to sign new mobile contracts to get their hands on speedier networks might want to pause for thought: 4G speeds have halved in the past year just as demand rose. This is according to a new market report from Which? — working in collaboration with OpenSignal. The mag said it used real data and real people to …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean going to be a good period to to stick with HDSPA/3g, in as much as there will be less and less contention on the same infrastructure?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I find even 4G at about 2-3Mbps faster than 3G at a higher speed for browsing. Why? latency is vastly better on 4G.

      3G feels like using satellite broadband but 4G is like Wifi.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Does this mean going to be a good period to to stick with HDSPA/3g, in as much as there will be less and less contention on the same infrastructure?"

      Not been my experience, or that of others in various parts of the country.

      As far as I can tell, Orange/EE appear to be regarding their 3G infrastructure as irrelevant once 4G goes live in an area. This has been reported in various parts of the country.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In my experience EE 3G/H+ is almost entirely unusable.

      It's 4G or nothing with them - and in the case of Tuesday 3rd November, for most of the country that meant we got nothing (which was matched by their customer support over the issue).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "It's 4G or nothing with [EE] "

        "It's 4G or nothing with them "

        You know that, I know that, my neighbours know that. But Orange keep denying that if you call and complain.

        In the last few months (coincidentally since 4G went live in this part of south Birmingham) Orange 3G has been unusable here. I finally got out of my contract (having been with them for 10+ years) after listening to 2ndline repeatedly telling me that mobiles were a variable service. Oddly mine seemed to be stuck at useless - so much so that I had to call Orange from my landline to get out of contract. They've already given out the Signal Boost (?) boxes to others in the local streets but no longer do that. So I'm no longer with Orange (O2/giffgaff now, since you ask).

        Unfortunately it turns out I'm going to be spending a fair amount of time away from home. Inevitably, O2 coverage where I'm going to be is just as bad as Orange was in Brum. Whereas Orange is OK.


  3. cambsukguy

    And EE data is/was unreliable

    My phone would show 3/4/5 bars and H+ and I would still not get download to operate. Upload was fine and often fast (say 5 Mbps).

    Many calls, many texts, many phone restarts and tech support escalation and I finally switched to Three - ostensibly slower, ostensibly less coverage but I get data when there is a data connection, which is almost always.

    Three give 4G for free (say that a few times when pissed) but it is not faster than 3G so I guess they suffer the same issue with loading. It does work though and I could drop the phone to 3G if it was bad.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: And EE data is/was unreliable

      I had the complete opposite experience. I spent two unhappy years with 3 and switched to EE - primarily because the Z10 was so cheap on it and that they have UK call centres. I don't use 4G on my phone though, I don't see the point as 3G speeds are perfectly fine for what I do with it. So I save my battery and my data.

      I have used 4G the odd time, just because I can, and it's alright. It's nothing special in my opinion.

    2. Shady

      Re: And EE data is/was unreliable

      I was driving back through Nottingham at the weekend. My son, using an iPad 3 with a Three 3G sim, was watching his favourite Minecraft videos on Youtube in HD - no stuttering.

      Meanwhile, I had my HTC One on EE 4G, paired with the car stereo, trying - and failing miserably - to stream internet radio. When EE is working properly, it's great, but it's far, far too spotty.

      The second my contract is up finishing with them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And EE data is/was unreliable

      "Three give 4G for free (say that a few times when pissed) but it is not faster than 3G"

      Certainly not true most of the time where I live/work in East/Central London. Home in East London is usually better, with 3G rarely getting past 7 meg down and 2 meg up. The fastest I've had on 4G was 45/25 meg down/up, but more normally its around 25/15 meg, only rarely dropping below 10 meg. It can get a bit variable on occasion on the download, but upload is pretty predictable. Ping can be quite dreadful here on 3G, but its both better and more stable on 4G, with few exceptions.

      Outside London is another matter; while its usually OK but rarely stellar in large towns, anywhere even slightly rural and I'm lucky to get any signal at all on either 3 or 4G, although I've seen other commentards with a better out of town experience. I've got a Voda SIM as well, and although the coverage overall is probably more even particularly outside main centres, speeds are never as high on 4G as Three's.

  4. Simon Harris

    Too much bacon.

    It's not often those three words appear together in an El Reg article.

    1. Alistair

      Re: Too much bacon.

      Indeed, no such thing.

      Too much bacon would make the networks FASTER wouldn't it?

      1. Cliff

        Re: Too much bacon.

        Too much bacon would make the networks FASTER wouldn't it? Yes.

        Too much Bacon would make the networks FASTER wouldn't it? No.

        Kevin Bacon is advertising EE 4G, must admit I've kind peaked on Bacon now.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Too much bacon.

          Don't you mean Francis Bacon, "the father of modern pork rind"?

  5. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    Speeds are shit here anyway...

    In Tokyo, I get 75 - 150mbs on 4G.

  6. DNTP

    Boston USA resident here, I live in Allston which is a heavy college student neighborhood. This is purely anecdotal, but as soon as the school year starts and the students flood into the area, my ability to connect to the 4G network and maintain a connection seems to become highly unreliable. Every year I've wondered if a sudden load was causing the system to break down until it could dynamically adapt to the new user density distribution, but there doesn't seem to be a simple way to either test this or get Verizon to say anything useful.

  7. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "The good news is that as customers continue to sign up, we won’t necessarily see speeds fall any further. That’s because providers are hoisting more masts to cope with the extra demand."

    We've been through this in the US. The tricky bits:

    Will carriers keep up on turning down the number of 2G and 3G channels, and turn on more 4G, as usage shifts? This isn't as easy as it sounds; a new cell site may well have software defined radio, so the company could log in (perhaps even remotely), turn off the 2G and 3G and turn on 4G in it's place. Otherwise, it requires physical modifications to the cell site. Another tricky part, 3G uses at least 5mhz (paired) channels; if a carrier was running paired 20mhz of 3G, they can't turn it off a bit at a time, it's 25% at a time.

    Will carriers actually keep up on building capacity sites, or focus on expansion of coverage, or neither one? I don't have anything to say to expand on this.

    Here in the US:

    T-Mobile has pretty much has focused on urban markets; they've been upgraded, re-upgraded, and re-re-upgraded (including adding sites); very fast HSPA+ (at least dual-channel in most markets) and very fast LTE... in a given city, but EDGE and even GPRS outside the city proper. If you are in a HSPA+ or especially LTE coverage area, they are usually by far the fastest of the "big 4", but get out of that area and it may be T-Mo GPRS versus "other carrier" LTE 8-) They plan to upgrade these 1900mhz EDGE/GPRS sites to 1900mhz LTE in the next year or two.

    Sprint has focused almost exclusively on expanding LTE coverage, they're running a minimal amount of LTE spectrum (I'm not sure if it's even 5mhz, it might be a 1.4mbps or 3mhz slice) but trying to get it over their whole network. They do have plans to use 1900mhz and other spectrum to add to LTE, but Sprint accelerates, cancels, or changes buildout plans so often, who knows what they'll do?

    VZW (Verizon Wireless) had focused on coverage, they already have nearly 100% of their network upgraded to LTE, one 10mhz 700mhz channel. However, some areas that got >75mbps peak at launch now get <1mbps, VZW is now having to focus on adding capacity and cell sites ASAP in these areas.

    AT&T is somewhere in between VZW and T-Mo's strategy, not expanding as fast as VZW but faster than T-Mo; and not focusing on urban markets as much as T-Mo but more than VZW was when they were focuses on rural buildout.

  8. Stuart 22

    East Anglia (well the chunk I was visiting) was strictly 2G from O2. My smartphone isn't smart/slow enough to be able to use 2G data. Bummer.

    Next year, or maybe the decade after when O2 finally pull their finger out - will they jump to 4G or recycle some old 3G kit to keep the web fingers fingering?

  9. eJ2095

    I have buffer face lol

  10. Mage Silver badge

    Now the other pesky 3G users

    If people all got 4G only phones and no-one else was on my mast I could get 21Mbps. Or 42Mbps by 'bonding' two channels. On 3G

    The 4G hype is hype. With an economical number of customers it will vary from rubbish to OK.

    An important issue is if 5MHz or 20MHz channels. The 5MHz is 0.5Mbps to 21Mbps approx and and the 20MHz channels are about 2.5Mbps to 100Mbps approx.

    Depending on number of users and signal quality!

  11. Dan Paul

    Thats an overcrowded backbone.

    As 4G demand increases, so should the capacity of the backbone fiber at each cell tower.

    However, that does not ever happen.

    If it is a shared backbone network connection between vendors on the same Cell Tower then it gets even worse.

    The Cell service vendors are doing the same thing that cable internet providers do, oversell beyond capacity.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Thats an overcrowded backbone.

      No, more likely contention ON AIR on the RF channel!

      click > for next slide

  12. Simon Harris

    EE must be using Bacon too much these days...

    All I hear on my phone is crackling.

  13. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "If people all got 4G only phones and no-one else was on my mast I could get 21Mbps. Or 42Mbps by 'bonding' two channels. On 3G"

    This is true. On Verizon's EVDO, I saw speeds bottom out probably a year ago, and it's been on it's way back up since. The data load has been shifting from 3G to 4G faster than total data use has increased. Some other carriers the 21mbps HSPA+ has sped up dramatically too.

    "The 4G hype is hype. With an economical number of customers it will vary from rubbish to OK."

    It's not really hype, the same amount of HSPA+ that can provide 42mbps total with HSPA+ gets over 80mbps with LTE (of course at the fringe it'l be pretty slow either way.) Nevertheless, HSPA+ is quite fast, and at times it makes perfectly good sense to use the "previous generation" tech as the load on it reduces.

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