UK average broadband speed rises

The average download speed for broadband in the UK has reached 14.7Mbps, but take-up of superfast connections still low

The average speed of broadband connections in the UK has reached 14.7Mbps, according to the latest report from Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator has published its bi-annual survey into fixed-line residential broadband speeds, which showed the figure had risen by 2.7Mbps in the six months to May 2013 and by 5.7Mbps when compared with the same period last year.

It also revealed that the number – which represents download speed – had more than quadrupled since the report began in November 2008, when it stood at just 3.6Mbps.

“With the average household now owning more than three types of internet-connected devices, consumers are demanding more than ever from their broadband service,” said Claudio Pollack, consumer group director at Ofcom.

“Internet providers have responded by upgrading customers to higher-speed services and launching new superfast packages. To help consumers make informed purchasing decisions, our report offers a useful insight into the actual speeds and level of reliability delivered by many of the broadband packages available on the market today.”

Measurement period Average speed
November 2008 3.6Mbps
April 2009 4.1Mbps
May 2010 5.2Mbps
November/December 2010 6.2Mbps
May 2011 6.8Mbps
November 2011 7.6Mbps
May 2012 9.0Mbps
November 2012 12.0Mbps
May 2013 14.7Mbps
Source: Ofcom

Superfast broadband connections slow to rise

Although the adoption of superfast broadband packages, which Ofcom defines as connections over 30Mbps, rose during the period, it still stood at just 19% of all connections – up from 14% in November 2012 – despite the regulator revealing in March that at least 65% of the UK population had access.

The vast majority of broadband subscribers are on packages with speeds of up to 10Mbps – 86%, up from 76% six months ago.

Ofcom claimed the move to higher speeds was partly down to network upgrades by Virgin Media, which saw the speeds available over its cable connections double from 18Mbps to 34.9Mbps. But there was evidence consumers are choosing to move to speedier connections, with BT saying it had more than doubled its fibre customers in a year from 550,000 to 1.3 million.

Virgin Media was found to offer the fastest connection of the 14 internet service providers Ofcom examined, with its 120Mbps service providing an average speed of 112.6Mbps. Its 100Mbps offering brought in average download speeds of 88.8Mbps.

BT’s superfast 76Mbps package offered an average speed of 62.1Mbps, while PlusNet’s 76Mbps service delivered 61Mbps on average.

Rural broadband gains speed

The report also showed the differences between speeds in urban, suburban and rural areas. Although there was a clear difference in the averages – 26.4Mbps, 17.9Mbps and 9.9Mbps respectively – rural areas showed the largest percentage increase to speed in the past two years, up by 141% compared to 103% for suburban areas and 95% for urban locations.

But Ofcom highlighted the difference between urban and rural had grown from 9.5Mbps to 16.5Mbps in the same period, due to the lower availability of superfast broadband connections in remote areas and the fact that homes were often farther from exchanges.

“We are yet to see the full effect of government measures to improve broadband availability in rural areas, which should also help to boost speeds,” added Pollack. “We also anticipate 4G mobile to have a positive effect on mobile broadband availability across the UK.”

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