Ofcom reveals broadband speeds research

UK consumers receive an average broadband speed of 3.6Mbit/s new Ofcom research reveals. This compares with an average maximum possible speed of 4.3Mbit/s across the UK.

According to Ofcom, the finding comes from one of the most sophisticated and thorough research programmes undertaken into the real broadband speeds experienced by UK consumers.

Over a 30 day period approximately 7,000 tests were run through monitoring units connected to around 1,500 homes' broadband routers, resulting in over 10 million separate tests of a range of suppliers' services.

The research was conducted in association with broadband performance specialists SamKnows and market research company GfK.

3.6Mbit/s is sufficient for many internet applications, including audio and standard definition video. However, the speeds achieved are significantly below advertised headline speeds.

Among consumers on the most popular 'up to 8Mbit/s' package (which over 60% of UK broadband consumers subscribe to), one in five subscribers receives an average speed of less than 2Mbit/s and on average the actual speed consumers receive is 45% of the advertised headline speed, according to the research.

Ofcom took measures to address this concern in December 2008 by requiring all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) signing up to the Broadband Speeds Code of Practice to provide an accurate estimate of the maximum speed they can expect when signing up to a service.

However, most consumers surveyed said that they were reasonably happy with their broadband service, with 9% expressing dissatisfaction overall. Although, speed was the most commonly cited cause of dissatisfaction. Only two thirds (67%) of those who use their broadband connection to watch or download TV programmes were satisfied with the experience.

The research also revealed that, while 91% of consumers said that speed was an important consideration when signing up with their current broadband provider, 28% of them were unaware of the headline speed package they purchased.

Ofcom's Chief Executive, Ed Richards said: "Ofcom's research is one of the most comprehensive assessments of consumers' broadband experiences to date. We want to see all Internet Service Providers meet the needs of their customers by clearly explaining what speeds they should expect and by ensuring that their networks meet consumers' increasing demand for higher speed broadband."

"We have already seen the first steps towards next generation super-fast broadband in the UK and we expect further developments this year. Following our work last year, Ofcom will publish the next steps for the regulatory framework early this year."

DTG Staff  |  08.01.2009

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