Ofcom says UK broadband speeds are on the rise

An Ofcom report has found that average broadband speeds in the UK have risen by 22 per cent since the end of 2010. The average speed nationally was measured at 6.2Mbps in November/December 2010, but rose to 7.6Mbps in just 12 months.

In addition, 58 per cent of UK residential broadband users are now on packages over 10Mbps. However, the gap between the average advertised speeds and actual average download speeds continues to differ.

In September last year the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) released new guidelines stating that speed claims should be achievable by at least 10 per cent of the ISP's customer base.

Using data from Ofcom’s report, the industry average speed based on the 10 per cent availability criteria would be 6Mbps for services currently advertised at up to 8Mbit/s, and 14Mbit/s for services currently advertised at up to 20/24Mbps. In April, when the new guidelines go live, we may therefore see new speed criteria hitting the ISP advertising material.

Ofcom's report states that Virgin Media’s up to 50Mbps has the highest average download speed of approximately 49Mbit/s.

"While the focus invariably when talking about speed is the download speed, the Ofcom report does cover other important metrics such as upload speed, latency, DNS lookup time and jitter." said Andrew Ferguson, editor of Thinkbroadband.com.

"Interestingly the upload speed results are generally in line with the advertised figures, which reflects the technical reality that upload is less affected by distance on xDSL products."

BT Infinity has the highest upload speed of 8.8Mbps.

Ernest Doku, tech expert at uSwitch.com, highlighted another concern that the report doesn't really mention - the increasing gap between urban and rural areas.

"Although internet providers are investing millions of pounds in bringing the UK's broadband infrastructure into the 21st century, the reality is that many parts of Britain, and especially rural areas, are still operating in the broadband dark ages and are digitally isolated due to sluggish speeds and patchy coverage," he said.

Back in August the Government announced the allocation of £363 million of its £530 million broadband war chest would be handed to local councils for the improvement of broadband coverage, with rural areas such as Cumbira, Devon and Somerset topping the list for funding.

It's all part of the objective to ensure that 90 per cent of UK homes and businesses are able to access 24Mbps broadband and every household is able to access a broadband connection of at least 2Mbps by 2015.