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Broadband providers fail speed test

Broadband providers fail speed test

Category: Broadband

Updated: 28/07/2009
First Published: 28/07/2009

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.
Internet providers are failing to live up to their promise of super-fast broadband, with average speeds falling way short of advertised performance.

As consumers have become more technology savvy, internet packages supposedly offering lightening quick download speeds for video music and other media have become hugely popular.

However, research of the performance of the UK's nine largest internet service providers conducted by Ofcom has revealed that speeds rarely perform as advertised.

In fact, the average speed of fixed line broadband in the UK in April this year was 4.1 Mbit/s (Megabits downloaded per second), compared with an average 'up to' headline speed of 7.1 Mbit/s.

Internet service providers advertise their broadband packages by highlighting their maximum 'up to' speed, which is their optimum performance. In reality, consumers would have to live in a urban environment and in close proximity to a telephone exchange to reap the benefits of the top end speed on a consistent basis.

Actual speeds varied significantly; fewer than one in ten packages that advertised speeds of up to 8Mbit/s - a commonly offered deal in the UK - actually delivered an average of 6Mbit/s or more.

Just short of one in five (19 per cent) recorded an average speed of less than 2Mbit/s, a speed has been adjudged as a minimum requirement in the Government's plans to make online access available to everybody in the UK.

While the majority of consumers polled by Ofcom said they were happy with the speeds they received, over a quarter (26 per cent) said the speed their broadband package provided was not what they expected when they signed up to the service.

The location of consumers is key to the level of speed they receive. The average performance to people living in urban areas, which are generally closer to telephone exchanges, was recorded at 4.6 Mbit/s, while those living in rural locations could only expect speeds averaging 3.3Mbit/s.

Of the service providers, Virgin Media performed the best, delivering average speeds of 8.1Mbit/s to 8.7 Mbit/s on its 10Mbit/s package. O2 and Sky also performed well.

The service provider with the poorest average speed was Tiscali, with its broadband package delivering 3.2 Mbit/s to 3.7 Mbit/s – less than half its advertised 8Mbit/s 'up to' speed.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.