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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

UK Noted Broadband Boost

The UK’s regulatory body Ofcom has recently released the figures for average fixed-line residential broadband speeds, indicating a slight improvement as ISPs tout superfast speeds.


The average of 9.0 Mbps reveals that connection speeds have now more than doubled if compared to those seen at the start of the broadband research four years ago. In November 2008, the average was only 3.6 Mbps. Now the telecoms watchdog claims that the speeds have also some improvement from the average this time in 2011, which was 6.8 Mbps. What is the reason for the increase?

First of all, there were more subscribers signing up to “superfast” packages from the likes of Virgin Media that promised up to 60 Mbps. Nevertheless, the average speeds for such packages grew insignificantly, from 35.5 Mbps last November to 35.8 Mbps in May 2012.

Anyway, the number of superfast broadband subscriptions increased to 8%, up from 5% in November and 2% in May 2011. In the meantime, the number of broadband packages that offered up to 10Mbps saw an increase from 48% in 2011 up to 68% this May.

In addition, Ofcom believes that the increases can be explained with many users receiving network upgrades from their ISPs, which are generally free for subscribers. For instance, BT upgraded its ASDL network, and Virgin started working on doubling speeds for its top end broadband package. But Thinkbroadband co-founder admitted that despite the fact that the speed increases would be welcomed by users, they aren’t a massive leap forward. He explained that the increases of speed in Ofcom’s report are attributable to the inclusion of superfast broadband services in the average, while the actual increase isn’t as impressive.

Meanwhile, upgrades by Openreach on older generation ADSL services do help to increase the speeds, with the average speeds more closely reflecting the real world. Thinkbroadband also pointed out that the results don’t necessarily consider users in rural areas unable to get fast (not even superfast) broadband speed, “struggling at the margins of online society”. It means that such users will surely need to see considerable improvements in the next 3 years if the government’s promise to provide the best broadband in Europe is ever going to be met.

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