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Mobile broadband speed fails to impress

New study shows UK gets 24% of headline web speeds

An 02 dongle on a macbook

Mobile broadband uses USB modems, or ‘dongles’ that plug into your laptop

Mobile broadband users only get a fraction of their advertised mobile broadband speed, according to a broadband speed test among more than 1,300 UK mobile broadband users.

The mobile broadband speed monitoring research, carried out by broadband market analyst Epitiro, found that the average download speed achieved with mobile broadband is just under 1Mbps. This equates to an average of just 24% of advertised maximum mobile broadband download speed.

Epitiro’s broadband monitoring software was downloaded at random by more than 1,300 UK mobile broadband users and reported over 1.4 million test results from December 2008 until May 2009.

New findings confirm Which? research

Epitiro’s mobile broadband speed findings confirm the results of a recent Which? user test, which you can see full results of plus what Which? members think of mobile broadband on Which? Mobile. 

The consumer group took mobile broadband services from all the major mobile broadband networks for a test run. Which? found that average download speeds varied from a maximum of 1.8Mbps with T-Mobile, to just 0.4Mbps with 3. Other mobile broadband services ranged in average speed between 0.5Mbps and 1.1Mbps.

Mobile broadband speed faster off-peak

When Which? carried out research into fixed line broadband speed in 2007, it found that those were on broadband packages advertising speeds of up to 8Mbps actually received an average of 2.7Mbps in practice – which exceeds the typical speed achieved by mobile broadband users in Epitiro’s test. 

Headline mobile broadband speed typically ranges from 3.6Mbps to 7.2Mbps but, as with fixed line broadband, there are many factors which limit the speed you can achieve in reality – including the number of people sharing the broadband connection in your area, and your ISP’s broadband traffic management policies. 

Epitiro’s research also found that mobile broadband speeds were faster at off-peak times – for example the average mobile broadband speed achieved doubled to 1.8 Mbps at 3am on weekdays. 

Several tests managed to exceed 3Mbps, indicating that higher mobile broadband speed is possible. 

For more on fixed line and mobile broadband speed and the factors that can affect it, check out the Which? guide to boosting your broadband speed.

Increasingly fixed line broadband companies such as BT are starting to offer fixed line broadband speeds up to around 20Mbps. The Which? home broadband review has details of the broadband speeds and features available from around 30 major broadband providers.

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