Average broadband speed less than half advertised speed in the UK

By on March 2, 2011, 2:05 PM
We all know that the advertised broadband speeds are nowhere near the actual broadband speeds. Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, recently analyzed 11 broadband packages, which collectively account for over 90 percent of all British broadband subscriptions, that the actual download throughput only 45 percent of the advertised "up to" speed.

Ofcom has thus proposed the following to solve the problem:

  • a Typical Speeds Range (TSR) representing the range of speeds actually achieved by at least half of customers (around the median) should be used when using speeds in broadband advertising;
  • if a maximum 'up to' speed is used in an advert, then the TSR must have at least equal prominence. The theoretical maximum ‘up to’ speed stated must also be a speed actually achievable by a material number of customers;
  • advertisers should include a qualification alerting consumers that they can confirm the likely speed that they will receive when buying their service, and, where it is the case, must also explain in the body of the advert that actual speeds depend on line quality and distance from the exchange;
  • any reference to broadband speed in advertising (for example, words such as "fast", "super-fast" or "lightning") must be accompanied by a TSR, which should have at least equal prominence to these words.

You can read the full research here: UK fixed broadband speeds, November/December 2010.





User Comments: 18

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Raswan Raswan said:

Good. I'm sick of the willful misdirection. FCC needs to institute a similar program in the US.

princeton princeton said:

"We all know that the advertised broadband speeds are nowhere near the actual broadband speeds."

Actually in Canada my 10mb down 1mb up connection gets exactly that. In speed tests and in real world use I get exactly what I pay for. Sorry for those in the UK and US that don't have it like that.

Leeky Leeky said:

This upto rubbish needs to end. If you want 2MB you should be charged accordingly, not charged the same price as someone else nearer an exchange that can get 12MB on the same internet plan. I also think speeds should be transparent - you should know before you sign what your expect speed is, so its completely open.

That said, Virigin Media's upto 50MB fibre optic broadband is the better of the packages I've had. Unlike the 10MB/20Mb fibre optic plans they offer, the 50MB is not subject to fair usage, nor is the speed capped during peak hours. You should get 100% performance 100% of the time.

My connection is usually hovering around the 49-52MB range though, which I'm OK with - I'd be very annoyed if I was paying a fortune for 50MB and was only receiving 20MB though!

LightHeart said:

Reminds me of a Monty Python joke, in a magazine they had a fake ad saying "You could make up to 100,000 pounds * ". At the bottom of the page in small print: * up to includes naught to 100,000.

gobbybobby said:

What package I am on

Bt total broadband unlimited* UP TO 8 MEG# SPEED

*= unlimited means 300Gigs

#= Means up to

What I actully get 1.5 Meg.

Well thats fair right. I still pay the same as the guy getting 7 megs, or even 15 meg as Bt offer no extra charge to switch to up to 20 meg.

spaceman said:

Im on Virgin Media 10mb package, although it does reach around 9mb in speed tests, I never seen a download above 1.1mbps from anysite.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is past news, present news and you can bet, yes, future news aswell.

Their always bangin' on about this on the telly but nothing ever gets done about it. The fair usage policy is another trick that's always on topic...And that's never fully come out right either.

Scandalous me says!

Cota Cota said:

spaceman said:

Im on Virgin Media 10mb package, although it does reach around 9mb in speed tests, I never seen a download above 1.1mbps from anysite.

And thats a nice download speed for 10MB, for a non standard rule the real "transfer" speed is usually 1/10 of the "link" speed. My ISP gives me a 2MB plan that is really something like 1.7MB >_> but i still archive the .2MB download speed. Its all about understanding how the network traffic really works, but yeah that "up to" really sux.

Scshadow said:

"any reference to broadband speed in advertising (for example, words such as "fast", "super-fast" or "lightning" must be accompanied by a TSR, which should have at least equal prominence to these words."

+1

Seriously... need that here. The average US consumer needs to be exposed to more numbers and less wishy washy bull**** like "super fast". Besides, ultimately US consumers can't read numbers and do math. It would just be nice for corporate america to just be a little bit more transparent about how they are on a constant mission to screw the american consumer.

Leeky Leeky said:

And thats a nice download speed for 10MB, for a non standard rule the real "transfer" speed is usually 1/10 of the "link" speed. My ISP gives me a 2MB plan that is really something like 1.7MB >_> but i still archive the .2MB download speed. Its all about understanding how the network traffic really works, but yeah that "up to" really sux.

I regularly download at 6.5-6.9Mbps on my 50MB connection. I recorded it at nearly 9Mbps on one occasion whilst downloading a large file once.

But I do agree that its usually around 10% of your quoted speed, for the best part.

yRaz yRaz said:

I'm getting 17.3down and 4.2 up. I'm paying for a 20/5 connection.

http://www.speedtest.net/result/1181918992.png

princeton princeton said:

spaceman said:

Im on Virgin Media 10mb package, although it does reach around 9mb in speed tests, I never seen a download above 1.1mbps from anysite.

You're confusing megabytes with megabits. Every megabyte is 8 megabits. So your 1.1MBps speed is the equivalent of the 10mb speed you've been advertised.

MB=Megabyte

mb=megabit.

Speed tests measure in megabits but downloads are in megabytes.

Raswan Raswan said:

Surprising. How accurate is that linker yRaz? I'm paying for 10mb internet and get 10 down and 1 up...

Though I, like others, regularly see about 1.1 or 1.2mb/s when downloading in the real world.

http://www.speedtest.net/result/1182199471.png

yRaz yRaz said:

Surprising. How accurate is that linker yRaz? I'm paying for 10mb internet and get 10 down and 1 up...

Though I, like others, regularly see about 1.1 or 1.2mb/s when downloading in the real world.

http://www.speedtest.net/result/1182199471.png

I've found that it gives you an accurate reading under the ABSOLUTE BEST conditions. It will measure how much you can fit through your pipe, but I don't think you'll see download speeds like that.

As it's been noted before, when you download it is in mega-BYTES, not mega-BITS. A bit is 1/8th of a byte. 10mbps / 8= ~1.2MB/sec (it's the same number only expressed differently)

ToneEQ said:

OFCOM should be investigated for being allowed to change the meaning of the word "unlimited". Who gave OFCOM the power to change the meaning of English words?

"Up to" is clear enough for me, and most companies tell you the expected connection speed before you sign up anyway!

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm in the US, and I get my advertised speed 8mb/s by 0.5mb/s cable connection and even during peak hrs it doesn't clock below 7.6mb/s by 0.4mb/s (according to speed test) often times clocking HIGHER than advertised. But I live right in town.

Now my friend that lives 30min outa town, with DSL is supposed to get 3.5mb/s by 0.75mb/s and gets more like 3mb/s by 0.5mb/s, but still not that bad.

And yes I do get that actually get those speeds in day to day use. D/L updates/patches for WoW I almost always hit my cap (1megabyte or 8megabits per second). My roommate constantly sees those speed always getting games/patches off of steam.

Anyways, I was kinda shocked to see just how low speeds are compared to advertised in the UK. Would like to see some numbers for the US as a whole.

Leeky Leeky said:

You have to remember the United Kingdom's infrastructure is considerably smaller than the USA. We now have 100MB speeds being rolled out UK-wide by Virgin Media - although it is in places, most of 2011 will be used to bring out coverage one city at a time I'm guessing.

These speeds are the legacy of the smaller cable companies many moons ago ripping up tarmac all over the country and laying considerable fibre optic cable. The cable companies were offering 10mb broadband back when British Telecoms (BT) were struggling to offer a real ADSL broadband solution to the market.

Because they invested billions in our infrastructure we can enjoy fibre optic at 10/20/50/100MB speeds - my understanding is generally speaking (in the USA as a whole) there has been a serious underinvestment when it comes to telecoms, and more specifically broadband technologies. The fact you have thousands of miles between each side of your continent doesn't help matters though!

Guest said:

My rule of thumb usually is that for every 1mb/s connection you get 100kb/s actual download. so in my case i have a 17mb/s connection but download files at 1.7mb/s. That's how i always seen it.

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