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Average UK Broadband Speeds Falling

Gordon Kelly


Average UK Broadband Speeds Falling

With talk of Virgin Media 50Mbit broadband on the horizon, wider fibre optic roll-out and on-demand video content (with a push on HD) you'd think our connections speeds would be racing ever upwards. How wrong you'd be...

To the contrary, the latest aggregated speed test results from specialist site broadband.co.uk reveals a deeply worrying trend: average speeds are decreasing and they are falling month on month.

Let's get to some figures: the average UK broadband speed is now 3.325Mbit on average across Broadband.co.uk's survey of the UK's top 10 providers (AOL, Be Broadband and O2 {they share a common infrastructure}, BT, Eclipse, Orange, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Tiscali and Virgin). This is the third month in a row the average speed has dropped and is a whole 10 per cent down on July's average of 3.609Mbit.

Virgin remains the UK's fastest ISP averaging 5.777Mbit downloads ahead of Be and O2 which managed 5.063Mbit, though the latter pairing did significantly come out on top for uploading clocking 0.773Mbit against 0.377Mbit.

As for speeds split across the day, ISP's continue to feel the heat in the evenings when more households are online with average speeds falling by 1.27Mbit compared to their optimum performances overnight. Reasons? Well, the surge in streaming content from the likes of BBC iPlayer across multiple formats, the ever growing online music market and the increasing amount of HD content are all major factors.

That said, a single message is clear: the country needs more bandwidth... and fast.


Broadband.co.uk Results (warning: PDF Link)


November 4, 2008, 11:52 am

Wow.... 3.3Mbits down and 0.3Mbits up. That is extremely embarrassing. While on Be* I could go to 24Mbit down and 2.4 up, I actually get 5.5Mbits down and 1Mbits up. All the work has to be done on the last mile, which BT owns and has not done anything to since several decades before the internet was invented.

Those averages need to be tripled in the next 18 months or we're going to be the laughing stock of Europe. If we aren't already. Virgin are just coasting along doing to bear minimum to be ahead of DSL. If they unleashed what their networks are capable of, without the throttling and caps, then it'll give BT something to think about.


November 4, 2008, 1:26 pm

Unfortunately, as we've found in the past, these results will NOT cause the ISPs or BT to suddenly realise they need to upgrade the infrastructure - instead they'll realise that they "need" to charge their customers more, and impose more rediculous caps to stop so many people surfing at once.

It's supply and demand. It's much easier and more profitable to reduce the demand than increase the supply...


November 4, 2008, 2:09 pm

when i run my own tests by measuring download speed by downloading fedora linux for eg, my download speeds are much higher than when i test on this site. Maybe its them whos connections to the internet slow down. Maybe you should get some data from samknows and see if thats the same.


November 4, 2008, 2:58 pm

If we could see a chart with backbone bandwidth to USA / EU vs number of subscribers. That could probably help identify what the best isp is.

On ISP's own local network it's usually fast. But try downloading from USA etc depending on ISP you get diferent results.

Hans Gruber

November 4, 2008, 5:08 pm

The "third monthly drop in a row since July." Does this mean the UK's internet is officially in recession? :}

Steve Austin

November 4, 2008, 6:08 pm

@Azro: No no, it's got to be over two consecutive quarters. We're still in the 'Bandwidth crunch' phase... :-)

ed h

November 4, 2008, 6:23 pm

Or perhaps ISP's are manipulating the achievable link speed to reduce congestion


November 4, 2008, 6:24 pm

You'd need 6 consecutive months for that ;)

This country's utilities (and broadband should be considered as one of them) are a laughing stock. Zero investment for years, and then only dragged kicking and screaming up to the level other countries reached 10 years ago.

Peter A

November 4, 2008, 6:50 pm

Hmmm - would be mmore interesting to see which providers can mange these speeds at peak times. Tiscali is the worst of the worst, with good speeds in the day (800kb/sec down normal), but dropping to totally unusable in the evenings (about 20kb/sec). Try getting a TV show from iTunes on that speed or choosing to update your PS3 or rent a film.


November 4, 2008, 7:51 pm

I've suffered directly from this. Used to get about 7Mbps at home, and it has now reduced to 1-2Mbps for all times during the day, depending upon whether it's a peak time or not. The only time it runs at its old speed of 7Mbps is overnight. Most disappointing, and makes me tempted to go for a pro package with guaranteed bandwidth and a low contention ratio.

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