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A new report from O2 has claimed that millions of broadband consumers may be wasting money by paying for high download speeds they do not need.

The internet service provider (ISP) found that while the average UK customer pays for a package offering up to 20Mb, the vast majority of people only need 8Mb to support their online activity.

O2 says that if customers paid merely for the services they use, broadband expenditure would fall by a total of £700 million per year.

The majority of survey respondents said they use the web for low-bandwidth activities such as emailing (77 per cent), browsing (74 per cent) and social networking (35 per cent).

Just 18 per cent stream multi-media content, five per cent download music and three per cent download films – these being the activities that require greater downloading capability.

Felix Geyr, Head of O2 Home and Broadband, said: "Our industry needs to tailor its services to people's needs, help consumers understand exactly what they should be buying and avoid marketing based solely on speed.

"It would be much more transparent if we took the same 'a la carte' approach offered to customers buying digital TV packages, where people can opt in to obtain more expensive services like film and sport."

O2 was recently shortlisted in the Best Broadband ISP and Best Mobile Broadband ISP categories for the PC Pro Awards 2010.

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