09 January 2009

UK broadband users average 3.6 Mbps, below advertised speeds

UK consumers receive an average broadband speed of 3.6 megabits per second (Mbps), according to research by Ofcom. This speed is less than the average maximum possible speed of 4.3 Mbps across the UK and significantly below advertised headline speeds. Speeds are slowest between 17:00 and 18:00 hours on Sundays, when use of the internet is at its highest. Over 60 percent of UK consumers currently subscribe to packages promising speeds of up to 8 Mbps. The Ofcom research found that one in five of these subscribers actually receive an average speed of less than 2 Mbps, while on average the actual speed consumers receive is 45 percent of the advertised headline speed. The research adds that most consumers say they are reasonably happy with their broadband service, although speed is cited as the most common cause of dissatisfaction.

In a statement, O2 welcomed Ofcom’s study into broadband performance as well as the recent introduction of an industry code of practice on internet marketing. The voluntary code is designed to provide greater clarity for consumers and reduce the potential for consumers to be misled over the speeds they will be able to achieve from their broadband service. According to Ofcom, since last month over 95 percent of people choosing a broadband service have been covered by the Ofcom broadband speeds Code of Practice. It requires ISPs to provide an accurate estimate of the maximum speed they can expect when signing up to a service. O2 conducts a line check before and after a customer buys broadband to ensure that customers are certain about the speed their phone line can support.

Industry group ISPA also welcomed the report and the code's introduction. However it noted that Ofcom's research is ongoing and it would like to see "robust data for a wider section of the broadband market". The ISPA underlined that that 83 percent of broadband customers are satisfied with their broadband service according to Ofcom's survey, but admitted that "there is more work to be done to improve satisfaction".

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See: The report (50-page / 263KB PDF)

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