ISPs could overestimate broadband speed by 62%

Which? analysis suggests there can be big shortfalls in the average broadband speeds in some local authority areas when comparing estimates by providers against actual speeds reported using a speed checker.

A review of data from Speedchecker found that people in some areas were experiencing much lower median speeds than providers said they supply. The results suggest that telecoms companies need to continue investing in their networks to improve their overall service.

Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Services, said: ‘Our research has shown that in some areas there can be a big gap between what people may expect versus what they actually experience in their homes. ‘This gap raises questions on whether people across the country are really getting the service they are paying for. ‘People who are unhappy with their broadband should check their speed and follow our tips on how to improve their connection at home or switch to a better service.’

Which? used data taken from over 700,000 speed tests, which were carried out by people who chose to use a speed checker at home between January and March 2017, and also used data collected by Ofcom for its 2016 Connected Nations report.

Which? then looked at the median download speeds in each local authority area, taken from the speed tests, and compared them with the median speeds that providers say people in the same areas can get, as reported by Ofcom. In 52 per cent of local authority areas, people using the speed checker experienced median speeds that were at least 10 per cent slower than the median speeds estimated by providers in the report. Over a third of local authority areas (35 per cent) had speed checker medians that were at least 20 per cent slower than estimates. The area where the gap was worst was Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, where speed tests recorded a median download speed that was 62 per cent slower than providers’ median speed estimate.

Meanwhile, people using the speed checker experienced median speeds at least 10 per cent higher than those given by providers in 16 per cent of local authority areas. In the remaining local authority areas (32 per cent), the median speeds experienced by speed checker users were less than 10 per cent different from the median speeds specified in the report.

In its report, Ofcom explains that consumers usually receive slightly slower speeds than those given by providers due to factors such as line length, interference and network performance.

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