Tuesday, July 28, 2009

UK: OFCOM has reported very disappointing results of trials of broadband speeds, often only half the advertised speed

[ofcom] Ofcom today published the results of its research into fixed-line broadband speeds in the UK.

Speed has become more significant as people increasingly use the internet for bandwidth-hungry applications such as downloading video and audio, but there has been a lack of reliable information on the actual speeds delivered by ISPs.

The research, carried out in conjunction with technical partner SamKnows and market research agency GfK, provides independent, robust data on the actual speeds that UK consumers are getting from their broadband providers. Over 60 million separate service performance tests were carried out in over 1600 homes between November 2008 and April 2009. The research sample allowed Ofcom to compare the performance of the UK’s nine largest ISPs by market share over this period.

A consumer perceptions survey conducted alongside the research found that speeds were a key issue for broadband consumers. The majority of consumers were happy with the speeds they received although over a quarter of consumers (26 per cent) said that the speed they received was not what they expected when they signed up to the service.

Factors affecting broadband speeds

The research found that there were significant differences in the download speeds offered by providers, with speeds depending on the technology used to deliver broadband and the capacity of the provider’s network.

In April 2009, the latest month for which data was gathered, Ofcom’s research showed the following:

Nationwide performance

The average broadband speed in the UK in April 2009 was 4.1Mbit/s. This compares to an average ‘up to’ headline speed of 7.1 Mbit/s.

The actual speeds received varied widely. Fewer than one in ten (9 per cent) of our sample on 8Mbit/s headline packages received actual average speeds of over 6Mbit/s and around one in five (19 per cent) received, on average, less than 2Mbit/s.

Those living in urban areas received significantly faster speeds than those living in rural areas. The average speed delivered to urban consumers was 4.6Mbit/s, compared to an average of 3.3Mbit/s delivered to rural consumers.

Consumers with all ISPs experienced a slowdown in actual speeds during peak evening hours (8-10pm), with speeds in this period around 20 per cent slower than over a 24-hour period.

ISP performance

Overall, consumers on ‘up to’ 8Mbit/s packages whose broadband service is delivered through second-generation DSL technology (ADSL2+) received faster speeds than those who use the more common first-generation ADSL1. But the results also showed that ISPs using ADSL1 who invest in network capacity are able to deliver speeds as good as ADSL2+ operators. Cable customers received significantly faster speeds than both ADSL technologies.

Ofcom reveals UK’s real broadband speeds

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