Just two months after Ofcom slaughtered the UK's telco operators over 3G coverage, a second report has lambasted their real world performance.
Comparison site broadband-expert.co.uk has tested 3,342 mobile broadband connections from 1 March to 31 August and discovered their actual speeds were approximately one quarter of what was advertised.
Put into hard figures, this pathetic turnout meant users attained an average of 1.1Mbit despite average advertised maximum speeds of 4.5Mbit. The breakdown makes for interesting reading too, especially for Vodafone which actually scraped the highest speed at 1.3Mbit, but had the worst percentage of its advertised speed at just 18 per cent of the stated 7.2Mbit. T-Mobile also fared badly delivering the slowest performance at a dawdling 0.9Mbit, 20 per cent of its advertised maximum speed.
"It is completely unreasonable for a provider to advertise unrealistically high speeds that the vast majority of customers will never receive," said Broadband Expert's commercial director Rob Webber. "Advertising in this way will not help the long term growth of mobile broadband or the reputation of the providers if customers feel they are being misled. Consumers who see mobile broadband advertised at such high speeds may see it as a realistic alternative to home broadband, whereas in truth it should be seen as a complementary technology. Continued developments in the mobile broadband industry will undoubtedly allow it to become a true competitor in the future, but at the moment - as our research shows - there is still a way to go."
That folks is the voice of reason. The bright spot in all this may well be the 2010 roll out of LTE (Long Term Evolution) services, also known as 'Super 3G'. This offers vastly improved bandwidth (up to 160Mbit initially) which should make rock solid 2-4Mbit services a cert as well as relieving the load from the existing 3G infrastructure.
On today's evidence, it can't come soon enough...