UK DSL broadband speeds are still significantly below advertised headline speeds, according to a comprehensive new Ofcom survey launched today.
Over 10 million separate tests carried out on a range of services concluded that UK consumers receive an average broadband speed of 3.6Mbit/s. This compares with an average maximum possible speed of 4.3Mbit/s across the country.
The report also found that one in five consumers on the most popular 'up to 8Mbit/s' package actually receive an average speed of less than 2Mbit/s, and the average actual speed consumers receive is 45 per cent of the advertised headline speed.
Broadband speeds vary depending on distance from the exchange and traffic levels on the ISP's network.
Ofcom launched a Broadband Speeds Code of Practice last month requiring all participating ISPs to provide customers with an accurate estimate of the maximum speed they can expect when signing up to a service.
Consumer groups have also called on ISPs to provide more accurate information to customers.
"The research reveals a headline speed that is out of touch with the real world," said Anna Bradley, chairman of the Communications Consumer Panel, in a statement. "We expect the industry to react to these findings positively, and change their information provision accordingly."
The research found that 93 per cent of consumers were satisfied with their experience of web browsing, but rates were lower among users of other applications. Just two-thirds of those who use broadband to watch or download TV programmes were satisfied with the experience.
"We want to see all ISPs meet the needs of their customers by clearly explaining what speeds they should expect, and by ensuring that their networks meet consumers' increasing demand for higher speed broadband," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards in a statement.
Sam Crawford, founder of SamKnows, the broadband performance firm which carried out the research, argued that broadband performance issues can negatively impact home workers.
"We're not looking at speed alone but also packet loss, latency and jitter, which can adversely affect your VPN, remote desltop or Voice over IP," he explained. "And those failures get worse during peak hours."
Crawford added that the research could allow Ofcom to establish clearer guidelines for ISPs, which currently have to make a "reasonable estimate" of the speed of their broadband service, according to the code of practice.
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