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Average download speeds are continuing to increase in the UK, according to a new report from Ofcom.

The media regulator has reported a ten per cent increase in speeds in the last six months, rising from 6.2Mb to 6.8Mb.

Network development work conducted by BT, and in particular Virgin Media, during this period has contributed to the increase.

Since Virgin Media started to roll out 100Mb fibre broadband in December 2010, it has brought ultra-fast broadband within the reach of 6.4 million households.

And BT is also continuing to roll out super-fast broadband across the UK, encouraging households and businesses to adopt its 40Mb Infinity broadband deals.

News of higher average download speeds is undoubtedly good news for consumers, who are keen to make the most of their monthly usage allowances.

However, the Ofcom report has also highlighted a widening in the gap between advertised broadband speeds and those actually received by end users.

Broadband speed advertising has been a sore issue for the industry in recent years, with several broadband providers accused of exaggerating the capability of their web services.

And the latest report is sure to put the issue back in the spotlight.

Ofcom found that the average advertised speed in summer 2011 was 15Mb, 8.2Mb higher than the actual mean download speed of 6.8Mb.

When the regulator last investigated speeds at the end of last year, the gap between reported and actual speeds was 7.6Mb.

Of the major broadband providers, Virgin Media was found to have been the most transparent in its internet advertising.

The firm's up to 50Mb broadband package delivered average broadband speeds of 47.7Mb to 49Mb over the course of the day, and between 46.3 and 48.4Mb at peak times.

And subscribers to the firm's up to 30Mb broadband packages could expect to receive download speeds in excess of the headline rate, Ofcom found.

Ernest Doku, technology expert at, commented: "While it's great to see British broadband get steadily faster, the key issue is still that customers are signing up to one service and receiving another.

"At 15Mb, the average advertised speed is more than double the average speeds that people are receiving. It's like signing up to a Porsche and ending up with a Robin Reliant."

He said supports the recommendation that adverts should show the range of speeds delivered to at least half of customers.

"We hope that this will be finally approved by the Advertising Standards Authority in the autumn – this issue has been going on for too long," Mr Doku added.

"In the meantime, the actual speed that customers will experience depends on factors such as the quality of their line, and the distance they live away from the exchange. We advise any customers who are concerned to run a speed test and discuss the results with their provider."

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