UK average broadband speed faster, Ofcom reveals

image captionThe price of super-fast broadband may be putting off many from upgrading

The average broadband speed in the UK has risen to 9Mbps (megabits per second), as more people make the switch to super-fast services, says Ofcom.

The figures from the communications industry regulator suggest a rise in speeds from last May's average of 6.8Mbps.

It indicated that 8% of UK homes now have super-fast broadband, defined as speeds of 30Mbps or higher.

The government wants the UK to be the fastest country in Europe by 2015.

Ed Richards, Ofcom's chief executive, said: "Our research shows that the move to faster broadband services is gathering momentum. Consumers are benefiting from network upgrades and the launch of new super-fast packages, giving them faster speeds and greater choice."

But Sebastien Lahtinen, founder of broadband news site ThinkBroadband, said that 8% represents a "low take-up" for faster broadband services.

"In the current economic climate, spending an extra £10 a month to get faster broadband is simply not a priority for most households," he said.

Infrastructure investment

Free network upgrades are helping push up speeds, the report found.

Many of BT's customers have been moved to the faster ADSL2+ technology, while rival Virgin Media started to double the speeds of most of its broadband connections in February, increasing the top speed of its fastest package to "up to" 120Mbps.

The report said that in May 2012, over two-thirds of UK fixed-line residential broadband users (68%) were on packages with advertised speeds above 'up to' 10Mbps, an increase from 48% in May 2011.

In the same time frame 8% of residential broadband connections were super-fast, compared with 5% six months previously and 2% in May 2011.

Actual speeds

The research, conducted by measurement firm SamKnows, looked at 12 packages provided by the UK's eight largest ISPs in the market by subscriber numbers. Some 559 million separate test results were recorded in 1,831 homes in May 2012.

The research also looked at actual speeds achieved compared to the speeds advertised by the providers.

Virgin Media's "up to" 100Mbps service was the fastest, with the research suggesting average actual speeds of 88.3Mbps over a 24-hour period.

The average download speed on BT Infinity's "up to" 76Mbps service was 58.5Mbps.

Ofcom has spearheaded the campaign to make advertisements for broadband less misleading.

All of the UK's major ISPs are now signed up to a voluntary code of practice which requires them to give more accurate estimates of a prospective customer's expected maximum speed in the form of a range.

They have also agreed that, where possible, they would resolve customers' speed-related problems.

Users whose speed remains significantly below the estimated range have the ability to leave their provider within three months of the start of their contract without penalty.

"We are continuing to work with the advertising code-writing bodies and ISPs to ensure that speeds advertised reflect actual speeds experienced, to allow consumers the ability to make informed decisions when shopping around to find the most suitable package," said Mr Richards.

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