UK Average Broadband Speed Increases 27% to 46Mbps

broadband speed

New Ofcom report reveals UK’s average home broadband fixed-line download speed up from 36.2Mbps to 46.2Mbps. 

Across ADSL, cable and FTTC all average UK broadband download speeds have increased, with cable having the fastest speed and the largest proportional speed increase.

Part of this overall increase can be attributed to the growing up take of higher bandwidth services. However, many consumers still receive poor fixed broadband performance due to the continued use of copper networks, which are still commonly used by broadband providers.

The reportUK Home Broadband Performance November 2017, also broke down the data by connection type, which shows the customer what they can realistically expect when purchasing different kinds of broadband services.

For example, ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), which is typically sold as up to 17 Mbps actually had an average of 9.6Mbps. While fibre which is advertised as speeds up to 38Mbps averaged 33.5Mbps and cable with up to 100Mbps achieved 99.7Mbps.

Later this month the rules for broadband advertising will change so that providers must display a more realistic average speed. Currently, they can advertise speeds attainable by a minimum of 10% of their customers, which can be misleading to the consumer.

Scotland’s Rural Download Speed Lowest in the UK

The report revealed that of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland overall, England had the highest average fixed broadband download speed at 47.8Mbps. Scotland came second with 43.6Mbps,  while Wales came last with 33.4Mbps.

In Scotland’s urban areas it was 49.6Mbps, while in its rural areas the speed dropped dramatically to 16.0Mbps, the lowest average rural download speed recorded in the UK.

Urban-Rural Broadband Divide

Despite this positive result the report also highlights the digital divide between rural and urban locations. Those receiving a download speed of less than 10Mbps is relatively low in the whole of the UK and in urban areas, at 21% and 16% respectively.

However, this figure rises when looking at participants in rural areas with 53% receiving this low speed. The data suggests that the average download speed in urban areas of the UK was 49.4Mbps, compared to 18.3Mbps in rural areas

Rural areas receiving an average download speed of more than 30Mbps at peak times was considerably lower than urban areas at 23%, while in urban it was considerably higher at 59%. 17% of urban areas received under 10Mbps at peak times while the proportion of urban areas was 53%.

Rural Coverage Lagging Behind Urban Areas

One reason for this gap is that rural users have less access to superfast broadband. Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2017 report showed that superfast broadband was available to 95% of urban premises while rural coverage was at 66%, thus making rural areas more dependent on traditional copper wire networks.

The long length of these wires, which are required to reach rural areas, results in speed degradation as the data must be transmitted some distance. Poor quality and old cables also contribute to its poor undependable performance.

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