Ofcom publishes their broadband speed findings

Ofcom as part of their remit under the Communications Act 2003 have to carry out research into consumer’s experiences of the way communications services are provided (such as broadband services) and then publish the results of the research.

Ofcom has so far published 3 broadband experience reports using data collected by research partner SamKnows Ltd. The latest report covers the period 1st Nov 2010 up to 15th Dec 2010.

Broadband speeds have increased on average by 5% since May 2010 to 6.2Mb/s (though the increase between Apr 2090 to May 2010 was 27%). This is mainly due to consumers moving to faster broadband services whose headline speed is above 10Mb/s.

Many services are still indicating “up to” speeds and very few customers actually get anywhere near those speeds, so withservices which advertise up to 20 or 24Mb/s only around 14% of customers were getting 12Mb/s while 58% of customers wer
e getting 6Mb/s or less.

The two exceptions to this we Virgin Media‘s cable services and BT’s Fibre to the cabinet services with Virgin’s 10Mb/s achieving an average of 9.6Mb/s, their 20Mb/s service achieving 18Mb/s and their 50Mb/s service averaged 45.6Mb/s.

BT’s “up to” 40Mb/s Infinity products managed a respectable 31.8Mb/s average (this provides fibre to the cabinet in the street and a VDSL2+ modem in the cabinet which should actually be able to provide over 100Mb/s).

BT’s Infinity service also provided the best upload speeds with an average of 7.8Mb/s with Virgin’s 50Mb/s service only providing an upload speed of 2.8Mb/s.

Peak Usage

The average speeds on some networks fell between 8 and 10pm when the network usage was greatest due to contention in the ISP networks however Sky’s service suffered the least slowdown of all the ISPs.


Ofcom contributed to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) review on adverising with respect to broadband and they concluded that: –

  • that if speed is used in advertising it must include a ‘Typical Speed Range’ (TSR), which should be based on average actual speeds that the 25th to 75th percentile of customers receive (i.e. the inter-quartile range).
  • that this TSR must have at least equal prominence to any ‘up to’ claims made.
  • that if an ‘up to’ speed is used it must represent the actual speed that a materially significant proportion of customers are capable of receiving.
  • that any TSR or ‘up to’ speed used must be based on statistically robust analysis of connection data, with the data and methodology available for scrutiny.

The following figures are relavent: –

Current Packages Typical Speed Range
ADSL ‘up to’ 8Mb/s 2 – 5Mb/s
ADSL ‘up to’ 20/24Mb/s 3 – 9Mb/s
Cable ‘up to’ 10Mb/s 10Mb/s
Cable ‘up to’ 20Mb/s 18 – 19Mb/s
Cable ‘up to’ 50Mb/s 47 – 49Mb/s
FTTC ‘up to’ 40Mb/s 30 – 36Mb/s

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