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UK broadband 42% slower than advertised, study says

A study has found UK broadband is a lot slower than advertised. But who are the worst culprits?

UK broadband is over 40 per cent slower than advertised, according to an investigation by The Guardian.

The newspaper held an online broadband speed test, with more than 3,000 readers taking part in three days. The results showed quite a disparity between advertised speeds and those actually recorded. On average, us Brits are paying for 12Mbps but we're actually getting 7Mbps. That's a gap of 42 per cent.

TalkTalk and Sky were the worst offenders, with customers complaining of a disparity of 60 per cent between quoted speeds and actual ones. TalkTalk broadband subscribers were promised an average of 8Mbps but received 5Mbps, with Sky promising 12Mbps and users recording 4.8Mbps.

Virgin was next, with a 41 per cent shortfall between the promised 30Mbps and the actual 17.7Mbps. BT came out best, promising customers 8Mbps and delivering 6Mbps. Its budget service PlusNet came up with a 27 per cent shortfall.

Broadband providers previously got out of this by quoting "up to" speeds, but last month the advertising rules changed, so the companies can now only quote "up to" if at least 10 per cent of their customers are reaching them.

Instead, they're mostly quoting individual speeds for customers based on where they are. And it seems to vary widely, with respondents to the survey complaining of broadband blackspots in city centres. It even brought to light exposed copper lines that fail in bad weather. (You can't get online because it's raining? That's really not on.)

BT is spending £2.5 billion to upgrade its copper network, which is good news as it's widely used. Communications minister Ed Vaizey has said we're on track to have the best broadband network in Europe by 2015, but if this study is anything to go by, we're currently a way off.

The PM David Cameron is considering an 'opt-in' policy on Internet usage as well, so anyone wanting to view adult content would have to notify their ISP. So, lumbering speeds and a policy that tries to offer a quick fix for political point scoring rather than empowering parents to monitor their own kids... I think we have our work cut out to be Europe's best broadband.

Are your broadband speeds slower than advertised? Should the providers quote average speeds or individual rates based on location? And what do you make of this proposed 'opt-in' policy? Let me know your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.