Mobile Internet four times faster in New York than London

The UK's mobile data speeds are a trans-Atlantic embarrassment, with the Big Apple enjoying much speedier data than London.

Nick Hide Managing copy editor
Nick manages CNET's advice copy desk from Springfield, Virginia. He's worked at CNET since 2005.
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Nick Hide
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4G really needs to get its skates on -- for the sake of our national reputation. Mobile Internet is four times faster in nippy New York than it is in lagging London, according to a new report from pro tester RootMetrics.

Mobile data averaged 2.3Mbps download speed across a hefty 11,413 tests in our capital, and 8.5Mbps over 5,294 tests in the Big Apple. Uploads had the same dismal result, with an average of 4Mbps in NY and a measly 1Mbps in London.

It wasn't all bad news for Blighty. The fastest spot in our fair capital is apparently Blackwood Avenue in Chingford, north London, which managed a frankly astonishing 12.9Mbps in a single test on the O2 network. Outside of the M25, the amusingly named Snodland in Kent hit an eyebrow-raising 7.3Mbps on Three.

That shows the enormous variance in service that we all find so infuriating. I would certainly trade a few meg in top speed for a much more uniform service, and in fact 4G is supposed to provide that reliability -- as well as a trouser-browning boost in speed.

Different networks seem to serve specific places better than others, with Chelmsford on average much slower than Slough, but Vodafone much faster than its rivals in the Essex town, for example. Even with a pretty wide data sample, however, these results might not mean much compared to prolonged periods of use.

RootMetrics ranked the UK's networks on their current London service. Three took the top spot -- it was "a clear winner", the company said -- with O2, Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile following behind, in that order.

Orange and T-Mobile are doing something about their last-placed ranking though. They're part of one company now, called Everything Everywhere. This umbrella organisation is launching the UK's first 4G network -- dubbed EE -- this month.

When we tested a bunch of 4G-powered blowers on its network, we were pleasantly surprised, if not blown away, by the results. Check out our 4G speed test in this video:

Watch this: 4GEE phones speed test

The Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE's 10.4Mbps download would be thoroughly respectable in the US, so I'm hopeful that once all the networks have rolled out 4G across the UK, our moribund mobile data speeds won't be such a source of trans-Atlantic embarrassment. That should happen sometime next year, with Vodafone, O2 and Three due to start 4G service in the spring and rural areas connecting up over the following year.

How's data in your area? Have you found a big difference if you've switched network? What about if you travel outside your usual stamping ground? Is Chingford really the data capital of the UK? Widen the sample in the comments below, or over on our superfast Facebook page.