Using smartphones, Ofcom engineers performed 210,000 tests of 4G and 3G mobile broadband, carried out both indoors and outdoors on the speed and coverage of mobile networks in five major UK cities - London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh between March and June 2014. London came out at the top of the list with the fastest 4G web browsing speeds in the UK but the slowest 3G browsing speeds.
The average speed to load a standard website was 0.72 seconds on the 4G network in London and it took 1.2 seconds via 3G.
Web page loading on the 4G network took the longest in Glasgow at 0.82 seconds, while Manchester had the best 3G browsing speeds 1.01 seconds according to the report.
Edinburgh recorded the highest download speeds for both 4G and 3G with London having the lowest for both.
“These figures are an indication that the situation regarding the performance of both 4G and 3G is complex and patchy around the country but it does make a good case for the overall performance of 4G” said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.
"Today's research shows 4G is providing a significantly enhanced mobile broadband experience to customers, which we expect to be available to 98% of the UK population by 2017 at the latest."
The findings help make the case for consumers who may be considering an upgrade to 4G, thinks Ovum analyst Matthew Howett.
It’s expected some consumers might have held off upgrading in the belief that the network performance wouldn't be that much different, or because of a bad 3G experience, but this report highlights the differences, so for operators this research is probably a welcome relief.
The report indicated that speeds varied from operator to operator. EE and Vodafone delivered the fastest average 3G download speeds at 6.8Mbps and 6.7Mbps respectively. This compared with 3G speeds of 5.6Mbps for O2 and 5.2Mbps for Three.
The 4G speed winner was EE with an average of 18.4Mbps, followed by O2 at 15.6Mbps. Vodafone's average 4G speed was 14.3Mbps and Three's 10.7Mbps, the report found.
These findings are part of a report from UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, published on 13 November, 2014. It is the first research into consumers' experience of mobile broadband in the UK since 2013