December 2011 saw average download speeds recorded by users of our Broadband Speed Test generally maintaining the levels achieved in November's result, coming in at 7.58Mb. Average upload speed also remained stable 1.16Mb.
Virgin Media's average download and upload speeds have held reasonably steady at 14.24Mb and 2.23Mb respectively.
Likewise, Fibre to the Cabinet provider Eclipse match last months speeds, with a 10.59Mb average download speed and a slight increase to a 1.88Mb upload speed. BT Broadband take a 0.5Mb drop this month, with download speeds averaging at 7.64Mb and upload speeds at 1.3Mb.
The best performing non-fibre-based provider was again BE and O2 (who share a common infrastructure) who retained 4th place with 5.67Mb average download speed over its Local Loop Unbundled ADSL2+ service.
November 2011 saw average download speeds recorded by users of our Broadband Speed Test remaining generally stable compared to October's result, with a 0.45Mb increase to 7.48Mb. Average upload speed also remained stable with a 0.06Mb increase to 1.26Mb.
After an increase in speed last month, Virgin Media's average download dropped quite a bit to 14.30Mb, though upload speeds remain stable at 2.45Mb.
Fibre to the Cabinet provider Eclipse continues to see significant gains, rising to a 10.59Mb average download speed and 1.66Mb upload speed. BT Broadband also saw a healthy speed gain this month, with download speeds averaging at 8.12Mb and upload speeds at 1.44Mb.
The best performing non-fibre-based provider was again BE and O2 (who share a common infrastructure) who retained 4th place with 5.49Mb average download speed over its Local Loop Unbundled ADSL2+ service.
October 2011 saw average download speeds recorded by users of our Broadband Speed Test drop compared to September's result, falling by 0.51Mb down to 7.48Mb. Average upload speed remained stable with a 0.06Mb drop to 1.20Mb.
Despite the overall downward trend, Virgin Media's average download and upload speeds saw significant gains, rising to 15.18Mb and 2.47Mb respectively. This increase comes as Virgin Media issued a press release boasting the ability to now offer 100Mb broadband to a third of UK households.
Unfortunately almost all other ISPs saw their average speeds drop, perhaps due to the darker autumn evenings causing an increase in peak time congestion as more broadband users turn to their computers, on demand video systems and games consoles for entertainment.
The best performing non-fibre-based provider was again BE and O2 (who share a common infrastructure) who retained 4th place with 5.95Mb average download speed over its Local Loop Unbundled ADSL2+ service.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have published guidelines on how Internet Service Providers should be describing their speeds in advertisements. Currently ISPs advertise using 'up to' speeds based on the highest speed available in the most ideal situation. Unfortunately, these speeds are rarely achieved by the majority of broadband lines, making advertised speeds misleading, and confusing many potential customers in the process.
The new guidelines - which ISPs are expected to be following by April 1st, 2012 - state that ISPs can only claim to provide maximum speeds that at least 10% of their customers can achieve. ISPs will be expected to justify their advertised speeds every 6 months based on actual usage data, ensuring that figures are kept up to date.
While this is unlikely to affect maximum advertised speeds for Virgin Media cable (already well within the suggested guidelines) and should have little affect on Fibre to the Cabinet solutions such as BT Infinity, the advertised speeds for telephone line broadband (ADSL) may well drop from up to 20/24Mbps down to 18Mbps, or even 13Mbps, depending on the ISP.
This variation is because speeds available for broadband supplied over telephone lines are very much dependent on the length of the line between the local exchange and the property. The longer the line, the lower the maximum download speed. Variation between individual ISPs may be due to how over-subscribed (highly contended) their service is and whether the product is supplied using older technologies (such as 'up to 8Mb' ADSL Max) in some areas.
Although this should allow better comparison between different broadband providers and their services, critics of the new rules point out that potential customers are still likely to be confused by the new advertised speed figures as most will be in the 90% that are unable to achieve the maximum speeds. A side effect of the new regulations means that some small proportion of users will soon be in the confusing position of having speeds higher than the advertised maximum.
Critics argue that broadband advertising should make it clear that speeds available over telephone lines are hugely dependant on the customer's individual line and that customers should be encouraged to enter their postcode or phone number for a personalised estimate. Broadband providers are already required to give an estimate of expected download speed before the customer commits to signing up, and comparison sites such as Broadband.co.uk's availability checker will give estimates of all the broadband speeds available to any particular line.
In addition to these new advertised speed guidelines, new rules regarding the use of the term "unlimited" in reference to download allowances will also come into play:
The term "unlimited" can only be used if the customer incurs no additional charge or suspension of service as a consequence of exceeding a usage threshold associated with a Fair Usage Policy (FUP), a traffic management policy or similar
Limitations that do affect the speed or usage of the service must also be moderate only and clearly explained in the advertisement (small print is not enough)
Controversially, traffic management policies limiting the performance of particular uses of the service (such as file sharing or streaming video) can still be maintained on an 'unlimited' product
While there are concerns that these new rules are not enough and are still open to confusion, it can still be considered a large step in the right direction to allow consumers to be able to make their choices with more accurate information available to them.
September 2011 saw average download speeds recorded by users of our Broadband Speed Test remain stable compared to August's result with a drop of only 0.06Mb down to 8Mb. Average upload speed also remained stable with a 0.05Mb gain to 1.26Mb.
Despite the stable overall result, individual ISPs saw significant changes. Virgin Media's average download speed again dropped after gains in July, now averaging 14.79Mb, but FttC providers BT Broadband and Eclipse saw gains in their average speeds, up to 7.84Mb and 7.3Mb respectively, presumably due to the continued rollout of Fibre to the Cabinet to new telephone exchanges allowing more customers to switch from up to 20Mb ADSL services to the faster BT Infinity and Eclipse Fibre services.
The best performing non-fibre-based provider was BE and O2 (who share a common infrastructure) who took 4th place with 6.69Mb average download speed over its Local Loop Unbundled ADSL2+ service.
August 2011 saw average download speeds recordered by users of our Broadband Speed Test drop from last month's results to 8.06Mb, with average upload speeds holding stable at 1.21Mb due to the higher upload speeds available from Virgin Media and Fibre to the Cabinet providers. This pattern is pretty consistent across most of the ISPs listed, with the notable exception of Eclipse. Their figures rose significantly, with average download speeds at 7.15Mb and average upload speads breaking the 1Mb barrier at 1.20Mb, likely due to a pick up in their FttC deals. Likewise, BT also saw an increase in average speeds over last month, though to a lesser extent than Eclipse, clocking in download speeds at 7Mb and upload speeds at 1.20Mb.
Virgin Media held steady with average upload speeds at 2.48Mb, though average download speeds dropped to 16.97Mb. However, with Virgin Media rolling out upgrades for their high-end 100Mb service across the country, these figures will likely increase significantly in future months.
July 2011 saw the average download and upload speeds recorded by users of our Broadband Speed Test rise to 8.31Mb download and 1.22Mb upload! These are significant rises over last month's 6.69Mb and 1.03Mb. The increase is mainly fueled by Virgin Media who saw its average download speed surge forward by 6Mbps, clocking in at 17.4Mb across all speed tests performed in July. The cable operator's average upload speed also rose to 2.49Mb across the same period.
Virgin Media engineers are a good way through the process of rolling out faster upload speeds region-by-region, automatically upgrading all cable customers to an upload speed at 10% of their download speed. The speed upgrade, which is due to be completed next month, means that all customers should see their upload speed at least double 2010 levels, while those on faster packages will see an increase of more than three times.
Providers offering Fibre to the Cabinet services such as BT's Infinity product and recently FttC activated provider Plusnet also saw significant improvements to download speed, with BT's average across all products rising to 6.5Mb download and Plusnet's rising to 6Mb download. Of the FttC providers, BT saw its upload speed rise the most, clocking in at 1.2Mb in July. BT and Eclipse are the only consumer-focused FttC providers to offer deals supporting the technology's full up to 10Mb upload speed capabilty.
Ofcom revealed this week that the average broadband download speed for UK consumers has risen by 10% over the past six months, increasing from 6.2Mb at the start of 2011 to 6.8Mb in May. These figures correlate with Broadband.co.uk's own speed figures for the period which saw the average speed recorded by our Broadband Speed Test clock in at 6.7Mb last month.
As with previous Ofcom speed reports, Virgin Media's fibre optic and co-axial cable based service performed best, achieving typical speeds closest to the advertised 'up to' speeds. In fact Virgin's up to 30Mb service actually saw typical speeds 1 to 2Mb faster than advertised! BT's up to 40Mb 'Infinity' Fibre to the Cabinet service offered competition to Virgin's speeds with typical performance of 32 to 37Mb.
Ofcom has pointed out that the gap between advertised speed and actual speed is now the widest it's ever been, with advertised speeds averaging at around 15Mb, more the double the average download speed. This is due to 75% of broadband users having their service delivered over copper telephone lines rather than via a fibre optic to the cabinet solution. Copper-only services are greatly affected by the distance from the local telephone exchange, meaning that a large percentage of consumers are unable to achieve speeds anywhere near those advertised. The average speed on copper line services advertised as up to 20 or 24Mb comes in at only 6.6Mb, with typical speeds of 3 to 10Mb and 37% of lines stuck with speeds of 4Mb or less.
However consumers need not be misled by advertised 'up to' speeds. Our Ofcom accredited price comparison calculator allows comparison between broadband products based on estimated rather than advertised speed. Having chosen a preferred supplier, consumers are now protected by new regulations that came into force on the 27th, with the following changes to Ofcom's broadband speeds Code of Practice:
Customers must now be given an indication of the typical range of speeds they can expect their line to support
During the first three months of their contract, if their line speed falls significantly short of those estimates and the ISP cannot resolve the problem, customers must have the option to leave their contract without penalty
Ofcom, the UK's independent communication industry regulator, published the results of their customer service satisfaction levels research today. Thousands of consumers were interviewed as part of the research, and the results cover the main broadband market leaders; BT, Orange, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin.
One of the positive outcomes of this latest survey is that Orange (who recently announced the removal of the fair usage policy on their unlinited packages) have turned around from being the least satisfactory broadband provider in the 2009 Ofcom survey to providing the best customer service out of the five major ISPs listed. BT and Sky have also fared well with an increase in reported satisfaction, with TalkTalk coming in with the least satisfied customers.
This research coincides with new rules that are due to be enforced from tomorrow which will require ISPs to do more in their efforts to help resolve customer complaints. Currently UK ISPs are required to join Ofcom-approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes, though this information is not always available to customers. The new rules will now require ISPs to:
Make dispute resolution information available on all paper bills.
Write to customers whose complaints haven't been within eight weeks to let them know they have the right to take their complaint to a dispute resolution service.