Broadband speeds rise, but Brits still lag behind

By: Mark Brown

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has revealed that Brits are getting 22 percent faster broadband speeds than a year ago, but more than 40 percent are stuck on speeds of 10Mbps or less, even though they could get faster connections at no extra cost if they switched package or provider.

This data comes from Ofcom’s sixth report of UK broadband speeds, which measures the performance of home internet speeds, the differences between ISPs and the disparity between advertised speeds and actual download rates.

The regulator found that in November 2011, the average actual broadband speed was 7.6Mbps — up from 6.2Mbps in November 2010, and 6.8Mbps in May 2011. Also in November 2011, for the first time, more than half of UK connections were at an advertised speed of above 10Mbps.

Ofcom looked at 13 broadband packages, provided by the eight largest ISPs (BT, Plusnet, Virgin Media, Karoo, O2, Orange, Sky and TalkTalk) — a sample that represents over 75 percent of UK subscribers. 572 million separate performance tests were carried out in 1,710 homes in November 2011.

Not only did BT and Virgin Media offer the fastest speeds on their fibre-based and cable broadband technologies, the two firms were closest to their their advertised speeds. Virgin boasts “up to” 50Mbps, and delivered about 49Mbps. BT promises “up to” 40Mbps on its Infinity line, and delivered speeds of around 36Mbps.

The other ISP packages “did not change significantly from May 2011,” the telecoms authority said.

As we previously reported, internet connection advertising is going to get a major shake up in April 2012. Under new Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) guidelines, speed claims should be achievable by at least 10 percent of the ISP’s customers.

The rules state, “where a significant proportion of customers are unlikely to receive a speed sufficiently close to that advertised, further qualifying information, such as the speed range obtainable by those customers, should be included in the advertisement.”

If implemented in line with Ofcom data, speeds currently advertised as ‘up to’ 8Mbps and 20 or 24Mbps would have to instead be advertised as up to 6Mbps and 14Mbps respectively.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Edited by: Duncan Geere

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