UK residents are now enjoying an average broadband speed of 18.7Mbps, although this number is possibly skewed by those on fibre connections enjoying speeds way beyond this average.
The report uses data collected during May 2014 during which 2.7 billion test results were collected from a panel of 2,175 UK residential broadband users.
Take-up of fibre connections – accounting for most 'superfast' services – also rose over the period, from 24 to 28 percent of all subscribers, as more premises are finally able to access faster services, or people choose to upgrade.
As the graph below shows, it is clear that those with services labelled as above 30Mbps are enjoying the better speeds, with services advertised as either 'up to' 10Mbps or 'up to' 30Mbps often falling far below their claimed speeds.
Of the internet providers Virgin Media continues to lead the way for headline speeds, with its much-touted 'up to' 152Mbps providing a 24-hour average as high as 141.9Mbps. BT's best offering, 'up to' 76Mbps, offered a 62Mbps average.
However, upload speeds continue to lag far behind the improvements in downloads. Ofcom's data found that the average of all services – fibre and copper – is just 2.4Mbps.
Plusnet, which uses BT’s Openreach network, offered the best upload speed, its ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s package providing an average of 17.1Mbps.
Ofcom’s data also showed a possible narrowing of the so-called digital divide between urban and rural areas. While average urban speeds rose by five percent to 33.4Mbps and suburban to 22.9Mbps, the average rural speed rose by 20 percent to 13.6Mbps.
Ofcom said this was no doubt due to the rising availability of high-speed broadband services in remote areas, and increasing demand for such services meaning that more people are paying for better broadband.
The government’s Department for Media, Culture and Sport, which is overseeing the funding of broadband rollouts through the Broadband Delivery UK scheme, was understandably bullish about the report.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “I’m delighted to say that these findings, whilst fantastic news, are not unexpected.
“Government has taken access to superfast broadband speeds to more than one million homes and businesses across the UK through our nationwide rollout, which has been instrumental in average speeds increasing by more than three and a half times since May 2010.”
Not all were as effusive as the government, however. Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, noted that some would scoff at the claims of rising speeds in the report, as many parts of the UK still suffer slow speeds.
“Average speeds might be rising, but in some parts of the country UK broadband services are still as temperamental as a stubborn mule - and fibre speeds are even slowing," he said.
But with fibre broadband rollouts increasing all the time, from the Isles of Scilly to the Outer Hebrides, the average UK internet speed should keep increasing as more homes and businesses move to fibre services.
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