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Average UK broadband speed hits 12Mbits/sec


By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 14 Mar 2013 at 12:17

The average UK broadband connection download speed has hit 12Mbit/sec, breaking into double figures for the first time, according to regulator Ofcom.

Official figures show that in the six months to November 2012, average speeds jumped from 9Mbits/sec to 12Mbits/sec – a 30% increase.

At the heart of the increases is the move towards higher speed services on both ADSL and fibre. "77% of UK fixed-line residential broadband users were on packages with advertised speeds above 'up to' 10Mbits/sec, up from 58% a year earlier," Ofcom said.

The average was also bumped up by an increase in subscribers moving to superfast connections, defined by Ofcom as those with an advertised speed of 'up to' 30Mbits/sec or faster. The regulator's research shows that by November 2012, "13% of residential broadband connections were superfast, more than doubling from 5% in November 2011".

The increase reflects Virgin's moves to push customers onto faster bundles, and BT's continuing rollout and marketing of its fibre services.

According to Ofcom, the fastest downloads were delivered through Virgin Media's up to 100Mbits/sec service, which recorded average actual speeds of 92.6Mbits/sec over a 24-hour period.

The average download speed on BT Infinity’s up to 76Mbit/sec fibre-to-the-home service was 63.3Mbits/sec, compared with Virgin Media’s up to 60Mbits/sec at 59.0Mbits/sec.

BT’s up to 38Mbit/sec fibre-to-the-premises package achieved speeds of 34.2Mbits/sec while Virgin Media’s up to 30Mbit/sec service had average speeds of 28.7Mbit/sec.

Peak time slowdown

However, the improving average speeds masked figures that highlight that at peak times certain networks struggle to meet their advertised speeds, with Virgin singled out for special mention by Ofcom.

According to the regulator, between 8pm to 10pm customers on the network saw a significant slowdown due to contention, with only one in three actually getting speeds anywhere near those advertised.

“The proportion of panellists who, on average, received more than 90% of their maximum speeds at peak times ranged from 35% for Virgin Media’s 'up to' 30Mbits/sec service to 91% for BT's 'up to' 38Mbits/sec service," Ofcom said.

"The findings suggest that, while there was relatively little congestion in BT’s fibre network in November 2012, levels of contention were higher in Virgin Media’s cable network."

Slowest connections get slower

While the report makes good reading for the majority of consumers served by decent connections in areas equipped for fibre and ADSL2+, the average speeds for connections in the categories for "up to 2Mbits/sec" and "up to 10Mbits/sec" actually fell, from 5.6Mbit/sec to 4.4Mbit/sec.

Although part of this can be attributed to Virgin Media customers on old 10Mbits/sec packages seeing speeds doubled and moving out of the lower speed bracket, it does highlight the plight of people outside the footprint of Virgin and BT's fibre.

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User comments

1.2MBit/sec for me

In West Wales we still have quite poor internet speeds. Our peak recorded is 1.2Mbit/sec so just 1/10 of the national average. On the plus side, there is supposed to be invested in a Welsh fibre rollout jointing between the Welsh Assembly, BT and the EU, so fingers crossed it gets moving faster than normal BT / government projects!

By skarlock on 14 Mar 2013

Where do they get these numbers from? Fantasyland?

After recent telephone line problems, our speed has dropped from 2Mbps to 750Kbps and BT have informed us that that speed is the best we will get.

So no more streaming BBC iPlayer for us then.

By jontym123 on 14 Mar 2013

What about latency?

That's all very good but it would be better if the industry was forced to give the consumer average latency figures from a 50-100 ping request.

By vivek30 on 14 Mar 2013

absolutely crazy

I lived in Finland for four years and over NO ONE has a connection smaller than 100mb down and up unless they are on a dongle, they provide tv channels through the internet. they use fibre / cable / adsl+2 now if a contry like Finland can do it with their bad winters why can't england 12mb/s is just stupid

By dxlwebs on 14 Mar 2013


Don'f forget that 12mb/s is an average, not a minimum.

My speed is around 3Mb/s and has been since I first got ADSL.

For me, that's not a problem, but it is annoying that we are forever getting news items about ADSL2/21/FTC, etc. and yet nothing changes for, it seems, the vast majority of users.

All that happens is that some inner city dwellers go from 20Mb/s to 40 Mb/s to 100Mb/s and so the average rises.

By qpw3141 on 14 Mar 2013


that's what i find so crazy, that England cannot provide a good standard connection speed to the entire population, there is no reason anyone should be on a connection as slow as yours or lower, high speeds are not difficult, England need to higher their standards and support everyone and not just the big cities.

By dxlwebs on 14 Mar 2013


Mean, mode or median
Or to put it another way, lies, lies and statistics.

Advertised 4Mb here in the sticks outside Scarborough. Actually

By nickallison on 14 Mar 2013

Minimum Not Average

Broadband providers should only be allowed to advertise the absolute minimum speeds they provide.

Average mean nothing.

If Ofcom sold chains their advertising would likely say:

'Some of the links in our chains are nearly the strongest you can buy'

By Michael on 15 Mar 2013

Lies, damned lies and....

On average, I am the youngest, handsomest, slimmest and most intelligent man in the room.

Of course I spend a lot of time on my own.....

By wittgenfrog on 15 Mar 2013

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