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Research: UK broadband speeds on the rise

September 14, 2023

By Colin Mann

UK comms regulator Ofcom has published its latest research into the performance of home broadband services in the UK, obtained by measuring the performance delivered to customers’ routers, and data provided to by the UK’s four largest broadband providers.

Download speeds on the rise

Ofcom’s research shows that average download speeds for home broadband have continued to increase. The average download speed was 69.4 Mbit/s in March 2023, a 17 per cent increase year-on-year, as people have upgraded to higher-bandwidth services, including full-fibre connections.

The proportion of lines receiving a 24-hour average download speed of at least 30 Mbit/s was 88 per cent in March 2023, up from 83 per cent in March 2022. Three per cent of connections had an average 24-hour actual download speed of less than 10 Mbit/s in 2023, down from 4 per cent in 2022. Less than 1 per cent of lines had an advertised download speed under 10 Mbit/s.

Upload speeds rise even more sharply

Meanwhile, there was a large increase in average upload speeds, rising to 18.4 Mbit/s in March 2023. This was a year-on-year increase of 7.8 Mbit/s (73 per cent).

The gap between urban and rural speeds has narrowed

There was a 26 per cent difference between average urban (70.3 Mbit/s) and rural (56.0 Mbit/s) download speeds during the 8pm-10pm peak-time period – down from 58 per cent in 2022.

Cable and full-fibre packages provided the fastest download speeds

The highest average speeds were recorded over cable and full-fibre services. Cable connections had the biggest increase in their average download speed, rising by 71.3 Mbit/s (36 per cent) to 270.6 Mbit/s. The average download speed delivered by full-fibre connections increased by 1.9 Mbit/s (1 per cent) year-on-year to 149.2 Mbit/s.

While people can achieve improved performance through switching technology or package, there were few differences between comparable services offered by providers that use the same Openreach wholesale inputs, notes Ofcom.

Network congestion leads to lower download speeds

Average download speeds can slow when broadband networks are busy. This is known as network congestion or contention. Across all connections, the average 8-10pm peak-time download speed (67.7 Mbit/s) was 95 per cent of the 71.0 Mbit/s average maximum speed – this was up from 94 per cent in March 2022. Similarly, the average daily minimum speed (63.3 Mbit/s) was 89 per cent of the average maximum speed, up from 87 per cent in March 2022. The effect of network congestion during busy periods was lowest for full-fibre lines.

Categories: Articles, Broadband, Cable, Consumer Behaviour, FTTH, Markets, Research, Telco

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