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OFCOM: Few Britons get broadband speed being advertised [Updated]

# 27 July 2010, 16:07 by Cable Forum

According to a OFCOM report, the UK is being ‘misled’ on broadband speeds, according to OFCOM’s analysis of broadband speeds in the UK shows that, for some services, provided by multiple large providers such as BT and Virgin Media, 97% of consumers do not get the advertised speed.

Virgin Media has been trying to tread carefully in this area and for some time, it has been advertising it’s broadband services with wording such as ‘up to’ before a speed. But according to the Ofcom report, that is still not clear cut.

Despite this however, Ofcom’s findings put Virgin Media in good light, Ofcom’s analysis had said:

The research found that cable broadband services delivered significantly faster actual (or download) speeds than comparable DSL services.

  • Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 10Mbit/s and ‘up to’ 20Mbit/s cable services delivered average download speeds around twice as fast as DSL packages with the same or similar headline speed.
  • Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 50Mbit/s cable service was the fastest service tested, delivering average download speeds of around 36Mbit/s with single thread tests and around 46Mbit/s with multi-thread tests conducted between 4 and 6am. A single thread test involves downloading a single file, while a multi-thread test involves conducting three file downloads simultaneously, which is more typical of the way heavy internet users consume broadband.

Regarding Congestion issues which can slow internet connections during peak periods, in the report, Ofcom also said:

“The cable broadband service on average delivered higher download speeds at all times of the day than comparable DSL services, however it showed a greater slowdown during peak periods than some DSL providers.”

Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom has apparently stated that their analysis revealed a “growing gap” between what people were being sold and the reality of their actual speed regarding their broadband service.

However, Ofcom’s Mr Richards has admitted that selling broadband is tricky business because there are many factors that can influence the speed that a user can experience.

Ed Richards Chief executive said:-

“It is not a homogeneous product, there are challenges of wiring, line length and interference and so on. It’s not as simple as taking an absolute standard product. It’s a complicated product, more complicated than anyone imagined.”

Ed Richards has also made his views known to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) which is also said to be conducting it’s own review of how broadband services are sold, the ASA has said it will finish conducting it’s review by the end of 2010.

Now in an attempt to improve how broadband is sold, Ofcom is pushing ISPs to adopt a new code of practice, which means broadband users will get more information about speed as they sign up to a new ISP. The code of practise is due to come in over the next 12 months and all the UK’s larger ISPs have signed up for it.

  • Click here to read the full Ofcom report.
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