Deception of 'up to' broadband speeds exposed

Ofcom reveals true download speeds

The average downstream broadband speed received by consumers is just 3.6Mbit/s, according to data released today from the most accurate UK internet access survey ever published.

Ofcom’s new hardware-based broadband monitoring system found that despite the fact more than 60 per cent are subscribed to “up to” 8Mbit/s packages, on average the top speed ever achieved was only 4.3Mbit/s.

One in five receives less than 2Mbit/s. It’s thought that the government’s forthcoming Carter review will recommend a requirement that the communications industry offers at least 2Mbit/s to all part of the country. Ofcom said today that on average, urban internet users’ connections are 15 per cent faster than those of their rural counterparts.

Across the UK connections were slowest between 5pm and 6pm on Sundays, when network load is highest.

The data was produced in partnership with the ISP industry analyst house Samknows, which deployed special speed reporting kit to about 1,500 homes. Until now, virtually all measures of broadband performance available to consumers have come from flawed web-based test software.

The survey is part of a bid by Ofcom to improve consumer confidence in internet providers by encouraging transparency. A voluntary code of practice, which came into force in December, requires signatory ISPs to provide an estimate of the real top speed potential subscribers can expect to receive (based on factors such as the distance of their home from the local exchange) as well as the “up to” headline maximum.

The monitoring network showed that on average, consumers get 45 per cent of the advertised headline speed.

Speed gripes were the most common cause of dissatisfaction in market research carried out for Ofcom alongside the technical survey. Only two thirds were satisfied by how their internet connection performed while watching web video, for example.

The full survey report is here (pdf). ®

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Broadband Speedtest

The following diagnostic tests will help you test your internet connection of its download speed & provide additional information to our on site engineers if you are experiencing certain types of problems with your internet service.

Internet connection speed test

The following links allow you to test the speed at which you can download content over your internet connection. Click on a link below and save the file to disk when prompted by your browser.

File download size Minimum download time expected @ 500kbit/s
Small (5 Mbytes) 1 minute 45 seconds
Medium (10 Mbytes) 3 minutes
Large (15 Mbytes) 4 minutes 30 seconds

Broadband video streaming

From 1 April 2004, we will no longer be streaming video from our own servers. If you are interested in testing your broadband connection for video streaming, we recommend you visit which will allow you to test using the Real Media format.