UK broadband speeds are 22pc faster than last year

2 Feb 2012

Broadband speeds in the UK have shot up by 22pc on last year, a new survey by Ofcom reveals. Residential broadband speeds in November were 7.6Mbps, compared with 6.2Mbps a year earlier.

The jump was a reflection of consumer uptake of faster broadband packages.

In November 2011, for the first time more than half (58pc) of UK residential broadband connections had a headline, or advertised speed of above 10Mbps, up from 48pc in May 2011. 

However, more than 4 in 10 broadband consumers remain on packages with speeds of 10Mbps or less even though many of them would be able to get a higher speed at little or no extra cost if they switched package or provider. 

Previous reports highlighted how there can be a significant difference between advertised speeds and speeds actually received by consumers.
The research included 13 broadband packages provided by the eight largest ISPs in the market, representing over 75pc of residential broadband subscribers in the UK.

Some 572 million separate performance tests were carried out in 1,710 homes in November 2011.

This confirmed the need for the Advertising Code-writing bodies, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), to review the use of ‘up to’ speed claims in broadband advertising to ensure that advertisements do not mislead consumers.

Following this review, CAP and BCAP published guidance in September 2011 on the use of speed claims in broadband advertising, which will come into force in April 2012.

Among other things, it requires that speed claims should be achievable by at least 10pc of the relevant internet service provider’s (ISP) customer base, and where a significant proportion of customers are unlikely to receive a speed sufficiently close to that advertised, further qualifying information, such as the speed range obtainable by those customers, should be included in the advertisement.  In addition, any claim should be based on robust and reasonably representative data.

In line with this new guidance, using data from Ofcom’s latest research, the industry average speed based on the 10pc availability criteria would be 6Mbps for services currently advertised at ‘up to’ 8Mbps, and 14Mbps for services currently advertised at ‘up to’ 20/24Mbps.

Of the 13 ISP packages covered, Ofcom’s research found that the fibre-based and cable broadband technologies were fastest.

Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 50Mbps continued to have the highest average download speeds of approximately 49Mbps. BT’s fibre-based service (BT Infinity) delivered average download speeds of around 36Mbps, up from approximately 34Mbps in May 2011. The service also achieved the highest average upload speeds of 8.8Mbps.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years