Government and the telecoms industry have said that an average upload broadband speed of 2.4Mbps is no cause for concern, claiming that those who require faster services can find packages to suit them.
Research by Ofcom last week showed that the average download speed for broadband connections in the UK has reached 18.7Mbps. However, upload speeds had risen by just 0.1Mbps, to 2.4Mbps.
V3 noted this as a worryingly low number given the increasing reliance on services requiring good upload speeds, such as video conferencing or uploading files to cloud services, which small businesses and home workers use regularly.
However, Ofcom pointed to the fact that average upload speeds are increasing, statistically at least, citing it as proof that things are improving. It said that those in particular need of a good upload average can always shop around.
"Average upload speeds have been steadily increasing in recent years, overall. They can, however, vary significantly from provider to provider. We'd advise consumers for whom upload speeds are particularly important to research the market thoroughly."
The regulator pointed to its research revealing that Plusnet’s top-end 76Mbps package offers an average upload speed 17.1Mbps as evidence that all was well.
Telecoms group the Internet Services Providers Association (ISPA) also said it believes upload averages are sufficient for the majority.
Nicholas Lansman, ISPA secretary general, said: “ISPA … notes that upload speeds have increased by five percent to 2.4Mbps and this is generally sufficient for consumers to use everyday services.
“For those using services that need greater upload speeds, packages are available to customers to suit their needs."
However, Malcolm Corbett of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), an outspoken critic of broadband deployment in the UK, said fast upload speeds are critical, citing his own organisation's problems as proof of this.
“INCA is a small business with people located around the country working from home. We can’t afford leased lines to each of our team members so rely on standard broadband connections - like most small businesses,” he said.
“Trying to run a Skype video conference for the whole team, or sharing large files - presentations, video, photos etc - can be very difficult as we just don’t have the upstream bandwidth.”
Corbett said that fibre deployments are vital to ensure better upload speeds, rather than trying to use older copper networks. This was a point made by INCA in a submission to government on future digital infrastructure needs.
“When first-generation broadband started to take off 10 years ago we did not use cloud services to store files for business or social use, we did not typically upload photos or videos to social networks and we did not use video conferencing as a matter of course," the organisation noted.
“For many people these are now commonplace activities, particularly those who work in the knowledge economy sectors. Greater symmetry in digital networks means that all of these activities become easier and less prone to failure.”
V3 contacted the Department for Media, Culture and Sport for comment on the figures but had received no reply at the time of publication.
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