UK broadband users still contend with slow connections

Broadband is getting faster in the UK but many customers are not reaching anything near the speeds that service providers are advertising.

Broadband is getting faster in the UK but many customers are not reaching anything near the speeds that service providers are advertising.

According to research from, the average UK broadband download speed is now 2Mbps - up from the 512Kbps available three years ago.

The figures are based on over three million broadband speed tests carried out by the website's users.

Despite the overall improvement, the website said many people sold broadband services that can “operate up to 8mbps” are still getting nowhere near that figure.

For many customers, the maximum speed they can get is dependant on the quality of their phone line and the distance they are from the phone exchange.

However, said, some broadband providers were deliberately keeping people on lower fixed connections to save on costs, including services sold at “up to 8mbps”.

The minimum broadband speed offered by BT is 8mbps, but like many other providers the company does not guarantee that users will get anything near this connection rate.

The rates customers get is also dependant on the “contention rate” in the exchanges, where different users basically share the same connection in the exchange.

Some providers have higher contention rates than others, meaning if a small number of users sharing the connection are downloading high bandwidth content like streamed video or a large number of users are online, the other users get a lower connection rate.

BT has promised to increase its basic broadband connection rate to over 20mbps for some users from this year, and this target will eventually apply to all users nationally.

There have been calls for BT and other providers to invest in fibre connections to the home, which would replace traditional copper lines.

Such a move would deliver user connection speeds of above 50mbps, like in countries including Japan and South Korea.

However, comms regulator Ofcom told telecom managers at the recently held Communications Management Association conference that it would not support the call for fibre until it saw how BT and other providers scaled up their ADSL broadband speeds.

Related article: BT announces another five wireless cities

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