EC: Broadband consumers sold short

Europeans consumers are not getting the broadband download speeds they pay for. On average, they receive only 74 per cent of the advertised headline speed they have paid for, according to a new European Commission study on fixed broadband performance.

According to commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, this is the first time the difference between advertised and actual broadband speeds is confirmed by comparable and reliable data from all EU Member States. There are significant differences in the European national markets, most likely due to advertising practices. “Consumers need more of this sort of data to help make informed choices, so we will repeat the exercise. And we take these first results as further proof of the need for a real connected single market,” she declared.

Key findings in the study include:

Cable has the most reliable download speeds: The European average of 74 per cent hides significant variation in the performance of different technologies. xDSL based services achieved only 63.3 per cent of the advertised headline download speed, compared to 91.4 per cent for cable and 84.4 per cent for FTTx.
In absolute terms, the average download speed across all countries and all technologies was 19.47 Mbps during peak hours. FTTx services achieved the fastest speeds at 41.02Mbps. Cable services achieved 33.10Mbps, whilst xDSL services lagged far behind at 7.2Mbps on average.
The upload speeds are closer to their advertised speeds. Across Europe, the average upload speed was 6.20 Mbps, representing 88 per cent of advertised upload speeds. FTTx services achieved the highest speeds by far, at 19.8Mbps. This is because many FTTx services provide an upload speed far closer to the download speed. Cable and xDSL services achieved a modest 3.68Mbps and 0.69Mbps respectively.

Results are based on peak time performance, which is defined as weekdays 7:00pm to 11:00pm (inclusive). These are the overall results of the study sample and do not refer to the actual composition of the broadband market across each country.

This study will run until end 2014 and two more annual measurements are planned.

Responding to cable’s ranking, Cable Europe executive chairman, Matthias Kurth said that European cable customers had another reason to be happy. “They are getting the most reliable download speeds in the European marketplace. Cable stands out as the front runner in the findings by providing 91.4 per cent of the advertised speeds during peak hours and nearly a 95 per cent average over 24 hour periods.

Noting that cable customers averaged 33.08 Mbps across Europe for peak download speed, Kurth said that this placed them in a good position well before the achievement of one of Commissioner Kroes’s goals within the Digital Agenda to ensure 30 Mbps for all of its citizens by 2020.

“The European cable industry competes head to head with other providers for consumers and this infrastructure competition is instrumental in boosting the quality of connectivity in Europe,” he stated, adding that the survey results unveiled a new pan-European set of metrics by which consumers could continue to make informed choices when choosing a provider in a dynamic and fast-moving connectivity market.

“This survey, the first of three, is a good step forward to give European customers more transparency on service quality that they deserve. European cable providers also consider this an encouraging move for a competitive setting where not only pricing, but also quality, becomes more and more relevant,” he concluded.

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