Ofcom slams broadband delivering less than half the speed advertised

Ofcom has revealed average UK broadband speeds. The good news is they continue to increase, but there's bad news too.

Ofcom has revealed average UK broadband speeds, and there's good news and bad news. The good news is that broadband speeds continue to increase. The bad news is you're unlikely to get the speeds you were promised by the sexy adverts.

The average UK broadband in November and December 2010 speed was 6.2Mbps, an increase from 5.2Mbps in May 2010. But the overall theme of the report hasn't changed since May: broadband speeds are still well short of the speeds advertised.

In fact, Ofcom's report reveals the average broadband speed is still less than half the 'up to' speed advertised. These results are averaged out, so some of you may be receiving up to the promised speed, but other areas are lowering the average.

No speeding

Orange is the worst offender -- admittedly with a small sample -- with its 8Mbps service reaching 4.3Mbps in an average day, and scraping just 3.6Mbps on a weekday evening.

BT also fails to distinguish itself, neither its 8Mbps nor 10Mbps services reaching half the speed promised in an average day or weekend. BT redeems itself with the 40Mbps service hitting an average speed of 33Mbps, but availability of Infinity is still limited.

O2, Sky and TalkTalk fail to reach half the speed advertised for their 20Mbps or 24 Mbps services.

The big winner is Virgin Media. The 10Mbps service tops out at 9.7Mbps, the 20Mbps service hits 18.6Mbps, and the 50Mbps service reaches a whopping 47Mbps.

Home on the typical speed range

Ofcom wants ISPs to advertise a typical speeds range, showing the minimum and maximum a customer can expect from their broadband connection.

Chris Marling, editor of Broadbandgenie.co.uk agrees: "The end of 'up to' speeds can't come too soon -- they are very often misleading and inaccurate. When BT can offer some of its customers speeds close to 40Mb, and others less than 1Mb, depending on which exchange they happen to live near, it is clearly farcical to group them all together under one headline 'up to' speed."

Yorkshire-based ISP Plusnet offers potential customers a personalised speed range when they apply, based on their address, giving a more realistic idea of potential service. It then follows up with a speed test in the first two weeks to ensure promised speeds are accurate.

Ranger danger

BT is less keen on the idea. BT Retail's consumer managing director, John Petter, told Crave that typical speed ranges could be "highly misleading" and even "dangerous". He reckons enforcing typical speeds "encourage more ISPs to cherry-pick customers who will increase their average, leaving customers in rural and suburban areas under-served."

Do you agree -- or are inflated advertised speeds a real problem? Broadbandgenie's Chris Marling suggests the speed race is actually unnecessary, and that "a speed of 1-2Mb will actually be more than adequate for many broadband customers, as long as it is consistent... what consumers really need is quality of service."

Are you happy with your broadband provider? Are Ofcom's figures a cause for concern, or are other factors -- such as price or customer service -- more important to you? Share your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall, as fast as your Internet connection will let you.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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