UK 4G 'slower than most of EU when busy'

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Speeds vary around the world but all countries experience network congestion

A study into 4G has indicated that the UK is one of a handful of European countries where download speeds fall below 20 megabits per second (Mbps) at the busiest times of day.

In the table of 77 countries, the UK ranked 35th, with 4G speeds ranging from 19.7Mbps to 34.9Mbps.

Most countries' 4G networks are busiest between 20:00 and 23:00, but UK consumers were most active at 17:00.

One expert said that the move to 5G should help speed fluctuations.

The study was conducted by wireless coverage firm OpenSignal, which ranked the countries by download speeds experienced at different times of day.

The data was gathered via an app installed on users' phones, which tracked speeds on more than 90 million devices.

Along with the UK, Italy and Ukraine were among European countries experiencing speeds below 20Mbps at busy times. Belarus, Ireland, Poland and Russia all fell well below that speed.

A speed of 20Mbps should make downloading a five-minute song pretty much instantaneous.

'Insatiable appetite'

Among other findings was the discovery that London experienced some of the biggest swings in speeds, ranging from 17.5Mbps to 38Mbps. The only other city with bigger fluctuations was Paris.

"The benefits of 5G is that it not only delivers faster download speeds but crucially more capacity, which should go some way to alleviating problems of congestion in the network," said Matthew Howett, founder of research firm Assembly.

"All research points to the fact UK consumers have an insatiable appetite for data that is only going to grow over time, especially as 5G will in some instances be a replacement for fixed broadband."

South Korea topped the table, with 4G speeds ranging from 40.8Mbps to 55.7Mbps. Also in the top 10 were Singapore, Norway, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Denmark.

Algeria was ranked slowest, with speeds ranging from only 2.6Mbps to 16.4Mbps, with India, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia also in the bottom five.