UK consumers are achieving average residential broadband speeds of 9.0Mbit/s, driven by the move to new ‘superfast’ services.
Ofcom’s research into fixed-line residential broadband speeds shows that, in May 2012, the average actual UK speed was 9.0Mbit/s, which is 2x times faster than the average speed of 3.6Mbit/s recorded in November 2008 when Ofcom first began its speeds research.
Ofcom’s research now includes some new ‘superfast’ packages, including Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 60Mbit/s service and BT’s Infinity 2 ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s service, the launches of which have contributed to the rise in average speeds. The continuing trend of increasing speeds recorded in the research confirms that consumer migration to faster services is gathering momentum.
While some consumers actively choose to upgrade to superfast broadband packages to achieve higher speeds, many are benefitting from improved speeds as a result of Internet service providers’ (ISPs) network upgrades, at little or no additional cost to consumers.
In May 2012, over two-thirds of UK fixed-line residential broadband users (68 per cent) were on packages with advertised speeds above ‘up to’ 10Mbit/s, an increase from 48 per cent in May 2011.
The proportion of broadband connections which are superfast (i.e. they have an advertised speed of ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s or above) has increased in recent months with the launch of new superfast packages. By May 2012, 8 per cent of residential broadband connections were superfast, compared with 5 per cent six months previously and 2 per cent in May 2011.
Residential superfast broadband connections are also getting faster, with average speeds increasing from 35.5Mbit/s in November 2011 to 35.8Mbit/s in May 2012.
Of the different types of broadband technologies, Ofcom’s research found that cable broadband connections generated the greatest increases in average speed in the six months to May 2012 – up by 3.6Mbit/s (26 per cent) to 17.9Mbit/s.
Over the same period, average speeds delivered by ADSL broadband – a technology that delivers broadband over copper wires – increased by 10 per cent, from 5.3Mbit/s to 5.9Mbit/s.
Average actual speeds recorded for fibre to the street cabinet (FTTC) connections, however, fell by 12 per cent (from 36.0MBit/s to 31.6Mbit/s) in the six months to May 2012.
The noticeable overall improvement in speeds is, in particular, the result of ISPs upgrading their broadband networks.
BT’s upgrade of its copper ADSL network, for example, has seen many customers moved from ADSL1 technology to the faster ADSL2+ technology, while BT’s upgrade of its FTTC service has seen an ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s service launched alongside its ‘up to’ 38Mbit/s service.
Similarly, in February 2012, Virgin Media started to double the speeds of most of its broadband connections, increasing the top speed of its fastest package to ‘up to’ 120Mbit/s.
Of the 12 ISP packages included in the report, Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 100Mbit/s service was the fastest, with the research revealing average actual speeds of 88.3Mbit/s over a 24 hour period.