UK broadband speeds continue to rise

The average residential UK broadband speed reached 14.7Mbit/s in May 2013, Ofcom research reveals. The report into fixed-line residential broadband speeds shows that the average actual UK speed has risen by 22 per cent (2.7Mbit/s) in the six months to May 2013, and 64 per cent (5.7Mbit/s) in the year since May 2012.

The report also shows that the average broadband speed has more than quadrupled since Ofcom first began publishing speeds data in November 2008 – an increase of 309 per cent (or 11.1Mbit/s).

Take-up of ‘superfast’ services and providers’ automatically upgrading customers on to faster broadband packages continued to drive the increase in the national average speed.

The proportion of broadband connections classed as superfast – that is, offering headline speeds of 30Mbit/s or more – is increasing. By May 2013, 19 per cent of residential broadband connections were superfast, up from 14 per cent in November 2012 and more than doubling from 8 per cent over the course of the last year.

By May 2013, 86 per cent of UK fixed-line residential broadband users were on packages with advertised speeds above ‘up to’ 10Mbit/s, up from 76 per cent six months ago and 68 per cent in May 2012.

The move to higher speeds is partly down to Virgin Media’s network upgrade to double the speeds of most of its cable broadband customers. As a result, the average speed on cable has nearly doubled over the last year from 18.0Mbit/s to 34.9Mbit/s.

Consumers are also choosing to migrate to faster fibre packages. BT reported that it had 1.3 million fibre broadband connections at the end of March 2013, up from around 550,000 a year earlier.4 In May 2013, the average fibre-based connection speed was 43.6Mbit/s, up by over a third (38 per cent) over the year.
Comparisons between ISPs’ download and upload speeds

The report also contains analysis comparing average peak time speeds (weekdays from 8pm to 10pm) with maximum connection speeds (the maximum speed achieved by each connection during the month).

Download speeds often fall during peak busy periods when a large number of people are using their broadband connections at the same. This puts capacity constraints on ISPs’ networks known as ‘contention’.

In May 2013, the UK average peak time download speed was 14.2Mbit/s, 88 per cent of the average maximum speed. This compared to an average peak time speed of 11.8Mbit/s in November 2012, or 90 per cent of the average maximum speed.

The most significant differences in speeds achieved at peak times occurred for superfast packages.

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