When shopping around for a new broadband deal, one of the first things you’ll probably check are the download speeds you can get. After price, your broadband speed is likely the biggest deciding factor when looking to switch provider or stay put.
In the past, price comparison websites like uSwitch have only been able to provide a rough estimate of what speeds you’ll be able to access. The quote you see online and in advertising is typically a combination of average speeds in your area rather than what your property can specifically get.
This is all set to change as uSwitch prepare to launch the first-ever property-specific broadband speeds tool.
As much as we would like to think otherwise, we’re not perfect. In the past uSwitch, like all comparison websites, have had limited access to data from providers that would enable us to give property-specific quotes for customers wanting to get a new broadband deal.
After tireless campaigning for three years, and collaborating with the UK’s telecoms industry regulator Ofcom, uSwitch is proud to announce that this is all set to change in the coming months.
When it’s launched, customers will be able to shop with complete confidence knowing that the speeds they’re quoted are the speeds they’ll get.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com, says: “This is a milestone moment in the broadband comparison market, with uSwitch’s new tool potentially revolutionising how consumers shop for their broadband online.
“Households have endured years of frustration, seeing a particular speed advertised and thinking this applies to their property, only to find that they are too far away from the cabinet to get the fastest speeds.
“But today, with increased choices and multiple fibre options, consumers need a simple place where they can get a clear idea of what’s actually available to their home.
“We are proud to have campaigned on behalf of consumers and brought the broadband industry with us, and this exciting, free service will soon be available for everyone to use.
“We want all broadband providers, especially those increasingly offering ultrafast speeds, to grasp this opportunity to transform broadband comparison journeys, driving take-up of better services for customers.”
Price comparison websites like uSwitch currently only have access to general information from internet service providers that allows them to show regional averages to consumers. These figures are an average of the broadband speeds available within a specific postcode, rather than what is available to each property.
But why is it so different? Well, the speed you can receive in your home will depend on how your property is connected to the provider. With upgrades to networks across the country, superfast fibre broadband is actually available to 95% of the UK.
The deciding factor is how far your home is from “the cabinet”: the green network cabinet found on most streets from which providers then connect broadband and landline cables to individual homes. If that connection is provided by traditional copper wires (like most are) then the farther away your home is from that little green box, the weaker your broadband signal will be.
This means that there can be significant variation in broadband speeds across a single street, and so postcode averages aren’t always ideal.
Want to find out your current broadband speed? Run our speed test to see if you have access to a faster package.
uSwitch has led a cross-industry effort which resulted in an agreement with the UK’s biggest infrastructure provider, Openreach. The part-BT-owned network service provides the broadband infrastructure for companies like BT, Sky, Plusnet and TalkTalk.
Once fully integrated into the uSwitch platform, customers will be able to see exactly what speeds providers can supply to their homes, and therefore help them make better-informed decisions about their broadband home services.
The next step will be to include other infrastructure providers such as Virgin Media and Hyperoptic, which is likely to take place later in the year.
Find out what broadband speeds you can get in your area with our broadband availability postcode checker, and keep an eye out for the launch of our new precise speeds tool later in the year.