Average UK broadband speed up by 10%Ofcom's latest tests show average speed of 6.8Mbps

27 July 2011

Ofcom logo

Ofcom's latest broadband speeds research reveals an increase in overall average speeds, but an increased gap between advertised and actual speeds

The average UK broadband speed has increased by 10% in the last six months, according to research carried out by telecoms regulator Ofcom. 

The average speed in May 2011 was 6.8Mbps up from 6.2Mbps in November/December last year. 

Nearly half (47%) of residential customers are now on a broadband package with speeds advertised at above 10Mbps. This is an increase of 5% in the last 6 months, and is particularly interesting when you see that the figure was just 8% in April 2009. Consumer take up of these packages advertised with higher speeds has grown fast in the past couple of years. 

Are you happy with your broadband service? Check out our expert top tips for making sure you have the best broadband deal. 

Increasing gap between advertised and actual speeds

Unfortunately the bad news is, the gap between the actual speeds received by customers and the advertised 'up to' speeds has also increased. 

Ofcom's research shows that the average advertised speed in May 2011 was 15Mbps. This is 8.2Mbps higher than the actual speeds customers have been receiving. Six months ago, the last time the same research was carried out, the gap was 7.6Mbps. 

This is a worrying trend. Which? has long been concerned about the current 'up to' broadband speed claims in advertising and has been campaigning for change. Back in February we responded to a review by the Advertising Standards Authority, along with other organisations, including Ofcom, and other consumer groups. 

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP), who write the Advertising Codes are currently concluding the review and are expected to announce their decision in the early autumn. We'll be keeping a close eye on the verdict. 

Superfast broadband 

Unsurprisingly Ofcom found that superfast broadband services offer significantly faster speeds than copper ASDL broadband. There are also much smaller differences between the advertised speed claims and actual speeds. 

The average download speed on Virgin Media's 30Mbps service offers average speeds of 31Mbps, while its 50Mbps service had average actual speeds of 48Mbps. BT's Infinity service which promises speeds of 40Mbps offers actual average speeds of 34Mbps. 

This is positive news, however for the majority of customers, who have copper ASDL broadband, speeds vary much more. The research found that the average download speed for ADSL services claiming up to 20Mbps or 24Mbps, the average speed was 6.6Mbps.  

Find out more about superfast broadband and what it means for you.

Ofcom's broadband speed research

The research looked at 14 packages provided by the seven largest broadband providers in the market. It says it carried out 455 million separate performance tests in 1,767 homes in May 2011. It was carried out in association with broadband monitoring specialists SamKnows.

How to follow the latest Which? Tech news

Are you a Twitter user? Follow WhichTech on Twitter for regular tech tweets.

Prefer RSS? Don't miss a thing with the Which? tech RSS feed

For just the main headlines in newsletter form, sign-up to our weekly Which? tech email.

Apple iPad 2 3G data plans compared - find the best 3G plan for your iPad
Best Android tablets round-up - we look at the best iPad alternatives around
Best cheap laptops for under £500 - find the best laptop deals