Ofcom has said 8Mbps is the new minimum download speed required for a web user in the UK as part of a push by the nation to ensure everyone can use the internet at a functional level.
Officially the government has been working towards a 2Mbps minimum connectivity speed for citizens under its Broadband Delivery UK framework. However, with web services increasing in sophistication all the time, the need for ever-faster speeds means the 2Mbps threshold is out of date.
Speaking on Thursday an event in Westminster, attended by V3, the chief executive of Ofcom Ed Richards said that to him it now appears that a connection of 8Mbps is the basic speed required to make the most of the web.
“In our Infrastructure Report, what you see very clearly is a big gap between those people with 8Mbps or more and those with less,” he said.
“It seems to be the case if you have less than 8Mbps you just use networks less, so there is a really interesting question about what, in the longer term, we mean by universal connectivity.”
The comments are not the first time Ofcom has made clear that the old 2Mbps threshold is too slow, with a senior policy director saying earlier this year that he thought the speed would prove insufficient in the near future.
Currently the average connection speed achieved by UK web users is 14.7Mbps, according to recent Ofcom data, although millions of homes and businesses will be seeing far lower speeds than this number. Average upload speeds are also low, at 1.8Mbps.
The demand for faster internet services is growing all the time, with BT reporting on Thursday that it now has over two million users of its fibre services over its Openreach network, with 1.7 million of these customers on BT Retail.