Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

Ofcom research into broadband speeds

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Ofcom has today published research into broadband speeds across the UK in conjunction with SamKnows and GfK, a market research agency. The research was based on a series of 60m performance tests conducted on the line speeds received by a representative sample of 1,610 customers receiving packages of advertised speeds of up to 8Mbps in the nine largest ISPs in the UK between November 2008 and April 2009.

Tests conducted in April 2009 revealed the following headlines:

– customers don’t get what speeds they think they are, including a high proportion of people who don’t get even 2Mbps, the figure outlined as a ‘necessary speed’ by Digital Britain and around which the government is intending to set a universal broadband service commitment. The average broadband speed was 4.1Mbps, compared to an average ‘up to’ headline speed of 7.1 Mbps (interestingly, this figure varied little from month-to-month during the course of the research)

– actual speeds received varied widely. Fewer than one in ten of those on 8Mbps headline packages received actual average speeds of over 6Mbps and around one in five received, on average, less than 2Mbps (while 11% never achieved a speed of 2Mbps). The average and maximum speeds recorded by those on 2Mbps packages (just less than one-third of the total) varied little but were, at around 1.7Mbps, lower than 2Mbps

– one-fifth of households never received a speed of at least 2Mbps, while 30% of households received overall average speeds below 2Mbps and 36% average speeds of below 2Mbps during the peak evening period (i.e. 8-10pm). These figures dropped to 11%, 17% and 20% respectively when the research focused only on those with packages in excess of 2Mbps

– urban based customers received significantly faster average speeds (4.6Mbps) than those living in rural areas (3.3Mbps)

– customers of all ISPs experienced a slowdown in actual speeds at peak hours during the evening when speeds were some 20 per cent slower

– upload speeds averaged just 0.43Mbps (10% of average download speeds)

– speed of connection is increasingly important: separate consumer research published simultaneously into a sample of 2,128 customers confirms that speed is the biggest single cause of dissatisfaction with broadband provision, with 26% complaining that the speed they received was not what they expected when they signed up to the service

– rural connections are slower than urban ones: the level of dissatisfaction was higher in rural areas (14%) than in urban ones (7%) and amongst those with lower speed packages (rising to 11% of those on packages of 2Mpbs).

Nothing particularly new or eyebrow-raising here, but the research does produce, for the first time in some cases, some interesting facts to bear in mind when it comes to policy-making, not least among them the percentage unable to get 2Mbps. Getting these people up to this speed by 2012, as stated in the commitment, remains a tough (and expensive) ask even at the headline level, let alone at the level of speed actually delivered.


Written by Calvin

28/07/2009 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Communications policy

Tagged with , ,

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