Nearly one in three UK broadband connections are now superfast, up from around one in four in November 2013, according to new Ofcom research.
The growing take-up of superfast cable or fibre services – connections delivering 30Mbit/s and above – has resulted in average UK broadband speeds increasing by a fifth in the six months to November 2014.
The average UK broadband speed is now 22.8Mbit/s, up from 18.7Mbit/s in May 2014, marking the largest absolute rise (4.1Mbit/s) in broadband speeds Ofcom has recorded.
Faster cable and fibre services have lower availability in rural areas, and rural broadband speeds are typically slower, delivering around one third of urban speeds on average.
Broadband speeds by technology
Nearly one in three UK broadband connections (32 per cent) are ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s or above services, up from 24 per cent in November 2013, according to the research.
The average actual speed being delivered across connections with headline speeds of ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s and above was 50.4Mbit/s in November 2014, although a small proportion of customers will receive actual speeds below 30Mbit/s.
Cable broadband saw a 26 per cent increase in average speeds, bringing average cable broadband speeds up to 54.4Mbit/s. This follows a speed upgrade programme by the UK’s largest cable broadband provider, Virgin Media, allowing customers to ‘opt-in’ for faster broadband.
The average speed of fibre services (not including cable connections) was 41.6Mbit/s, showing no significant change in the six months to November 2014.
The average speed of ADSL connections – still the most common type of residential broadband – saw no significant change in the six months to November 2014, providing an average speed of 7.3Mbit/s.
Urban and rural broadband speeds
Average download speeds in urban areas increased by 21 per cent in the six months to November 2014, largely as a result of increasing take-up of faster services and Virgin Media’s upgrade programme.
As faster cable and fibre broadband services, with headline speeds of 30Mbit/s or more, typically have lower availability in rural areas, no statistically significant change in average speeds in suburban and rural areas was recorded over this period.
Fastest download and upload speeds by provider
Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 152Mbit/s service achieved the fastest download speeds of the broadband services covered in Ofcom’s research, averaging 132.6Mbit/s over 24 hours.
Ofcom’s research also examines upload speeds, which are particularly important when sharing large files or using real-time video communications. The research found that Plusnet’s ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s package delivered the fastest upload speeds at 17.0Mbit/s on average.
Steve Unger, Acting Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “The UK has seen significant investment in superfast broadband, and millions of households are now benefitting from faster speeds and more choice. But there’s still more to be done to ensure that everyone can share in those benefits.’
“It’s encouraging to see continued investment in infrastructure from broadband providers, supported by Government funding to bring faster broadband to harder to reach areas. By providing the best possible information, Ofcom can help people understand the broadband services available to them and what they can do to get the most from their broadband.”
Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s Chief Executive Officer, noted that this was the 12th consecutive time that Virgin Media had been proven to be the UK’s fastest broadband provider. “Our customers can take comfort from the fact that they are on the best service there is. The good news for Britain is we’re bringing lightning fast broadband to four million more homes and businesses with our £3 billion investment – the future of the UK’s digital infrastructure has never looked better,” he declared.