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High-quality streaming gains importance as 5G proliferates

The mobile network benchmarking company’s study was taken between 17 November and 10 December 2021 surveying 2,023 consumers and testing the main networks available in the country from October to December 2021, driving in 33 markets and 15 motorways in all areas of the UK.

The top line finding was that as events have been cancelled and remote alternatives became the only viable option, usage of mobile apps with video and livestreaming capabilities has risen. Nearly a third of those surveyed (28%) said they were excited about the launch of 5G and the reliability it promises; in addition, a fifth (22%) responded that they thought 5G would be most important for keeping in touch with friends and family.

In comparison with 2020, GWS’s drive testing discovered that three of the four major operators have doubled their nationwide 5G coverage. The study showed that 25 out of the 33 major metropolitan cities and towns that GWS tested across the UK now offer 5G coverage from all four operators. EE’s 5G coverage increased approximately 120%, O2’s 260%, Three’s 150% and Vodafone’s 90%.

However, while many reported becoming increasingly willing or reliant on video streaming services, the survey also revealed that many users suffered from connectivity issues that prevent them from making full use of these services. Nearly a quarter (24%) of those who have watched a remote event live claim to have encountered sound issues that damaged the experience; the same percentage reported fuzzy or low-quality picture, and 23% experienced video freezing through events .

GWS’s network speed testing found that of those with mobile devices able to conduct livestreams and video calls, a third had inadequate speeds to either watch or broadcast a live HD stream effectively. This was defined as speeds less than 5 Mbps to watch and 4.5 Mbps to broadcast. Respondents on the O2 network complained the least among the customers of the four big mobile operators when asked which issues impacted their ability to both watch and initiate a livestream.

Specific issues included sound, low picture quality or video freezing. Over half (51%) of O2 customers reported no issues watching livestreamed content, whereas only 42% of both EE and Vodafone customers, and 37% of those on Three, reported no issues. Customers on these three networks also reported audio and picture quality issues at much higher rates, with over a quarter (26%) of those on EE encountering poor sound quality and 27% of Three customers reporting a fuzzy or low-quality picture when watching a livestreamed event, while 27% of Vodafone customers experienced issues with livestreams freezing.

“The increased importance of high-quality streaming services, enabled by reliable connectivity, shows that the UK must continue to embrace technological innovation and invest in its digital infrastructure,” said Global Wireless Solutions CEO Paul Carter. “5G technology, with its reliability, super-fast speeds and low latency, provides an answer to this issue. Investments in 5G technology will ensure this is an option open to all.” Rapid TV News

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