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Ofcom: UK broadband speeds improve

Ofcom has published its UK Home Broadband Performance, comparing the performance of 18 popular broadband packages, from seven major Internet service providers.

Virgin Media’s 100Mbit/s and 200Mbit/s services provided the fastest average actual download speeds of all the ISP packages included in the report. Its ‘up to’ 200Mbit/s service recorded the highest average actual download speed at 174.0Mbit/s.

With the exception of KC’s ADSL2+ service, all of the ADSL2+ and FTTC packages included in the report are provided over the BT copper line from the local exchange/street cabinet to the end-user’s home. This means that it is unlikely that consumers will see a substantial increase in the performance of their service if switching from one service to another which has the same headline speed and technology, unless the speed of their existing service is being limited by factors within their ISP’s control, such as network contention. The main difference between the performance of FTTC services was the amount of slowdown experienced at peak times.

The research found that there were very few differences in average download speeds for ADSL packages with similar headline speeds. ADSL2+ services had an average actual download speed of 8.4Mbit/s. Similarly, there were few differences in results for FTTC packages with similar headline speeds. FTTC packages advertised as offering ‘up to’ 38Mbit/s and ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s provided average download speeds of 33.4Mbit/s and 59.4Mbit/s respectively.

While there was little difference in the amount of contention experienced by ADSL2+ packages, Ofcom observed differing levels of contention at peak times for FTTC and cable packages. The proportion of panellists receiving 90 per cent or more of their connections’ maximum speed at peak times ranged from 35 per cent for Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 200Mbit/s cable service (with 44 per cent receiving 90 per cent or more of the service’s advertised speed at peak times) to 95 per cent for EE’s ‘up to’ 38Mbit/s FTTC service.

The average actual UK broadband speed reached 28.9Mbit/s in November 2015 – 6.1Mbit/s (27 per cent) higher than a year previously. The average actual UK upload speed was 3.7Mbit/s in November 2015, a year on year increase of 0.8Mbit/s (28 per cent).

Superfast products (cable and fibre-to-the-cabinet services with advertised speeds of 30Mbit/s or more) now account for more than two in five broadband connections (42 per cent). Average speeds for these services increased to 56.8Mbit/s in the year to November 2015.

The quality of video streams that could be streamed reliably varied by technology and package type. Thirteen per cent of ADSL2+ packages streamed Netflix videos reliably in UHD, while this figure was over 90 per cent for cable and FTTC services.

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