Latest Ofcom report shows faster UK broadband

Though not as fast as advertised by ISPs, Ofcom advises
Kerry Butters

July 27, 2011
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A report published today by Ofcom shows that broadband speeds in the UK have increased by 10% in the last six months.

Consumers now enjoy average speeds of 10Mbps, compared to November 2010 when typical speeds reached 6.2Mbps. This figure wasn’t up by much in May 2011 when speeds were at 6.8Mbps, meaning there has been a surge in speed in the last couple of months.

Almost half of the customers in the country now have a package deal which advertises speeds over 10Mbps, but it’s not all good news as there is still a gap in the speeds customers expect and the ones companies advertise as possible - and that gap has increased.

Ofcom says that the take-up of superfast broadband is still increasing and is now available to most UK homes.

The research found that superfast services such as fibre optic offered much faster connection than ADSL lines, and there was also little difference in the speeds advertised by the companies and those reported by customers.

However, over 75% of broadband customers in the UK have copper ADSL broadband which can vary in connection quality depending on factors such as how close the customer lives to the exchange and the ISP that they use. Not to mention phone line quality.

The report found that Virgin consistently matched speeds to those advertised, whilst most other ISPs displayed a significant gap, with many 10Mbps services generally only providing customers with speeds of between 3-5Mbps.

Ofcom said in the report that they continue to be concerned by the fact that customers are being misled by advertised ‘up to’ speeds, and have recommended to the ASA that ISPs include ‘typical speeds range’ (TSR) data in their marketing.

The TSR must represent speeds attained by at least half of the ISP’s customers and will be expected to be given equal prominence as advertised ‘up to’ speeds.

A review on advertising practices for ISPs is currently underway and the findings are expected to be published in the autumn.

The revised Code of Practice for broadband speeds is also effective from today and includes an amendment which allows customers “to leave their provider without penalty if they receive a maximum line speed which is significantly lower than the bottom of the estimated range, and ISPs are not able to resolve the problem.”

Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards, said: “Ofcom has encouraged ISPs to invest in faster broadband networks; we are now seeing consumers increasingly move to higher rated services and enjoying genuinely faster speeds.”

He went on to say that consumers also have access to better information about broadband, enabling them to decide which provider will give them the best speeds they can achieve.

However, Richards said: “The research is still telling us that some consumers are not receiving anywhere near the speeds that are being advertised by some ISPs.”

“Ofcom continues to urge the CAP and BCAP committees to make changes to their advertising guidance so that consumers are able to make more informed decisions based on the adverts they see.”


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