Regulator's broadband speed report shows average speeds in UK are increasing, after more companies offer up to '7.6Mbits/sec'
Average broadband speeds are gradually increasing while internet service providers (ISPs) are finally making their advertising claims more realistic, according to an Ofcom report.
The regulator's latest report shows the average speed a household gets is now 9Mbits/sec, up from 7.6Mbits/sec in November and 3.6Mbits/sec in November 2008.
The report said ISPs are also ensuring that advertising claims more accurately reflect the speeds a customer will get in practice. Other ISPs have abandonded claims about bandwidth to focus on promoting customer service and other benefits. Ofcom's report in February this year showed that ISPs advertising claims were still confusing.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: "Our research shows that the move to faster broadband services is gathering momentum. Consumers are benefitting from network upgrades and the launch of new superfast packages, giving them faster speeds and greater choice.
"We are continuing to work with the advertising code-writing bodies and ISPs to ensure that speeds advertised reflect actual speeds experienced, to allow consumers the ability to make informed decisions when shopping around to find the most suitable package."
The latest report from Ofcom into broadband speed claims made by ISPs is its seventh since the regulator began investigating this area in November 2008. Faster fibre broadband services such as those provided by Virgin and BT are also now included in the surveys.
Ofcom said these services, offering speeds of ‘up to' 60 Mbit/sec, had in particular contributed to the rise in average speeds and more customers were migrating to these packages.
The concern about how ISPs advertise their services is also being addressed after changes were made to the way they could make speed claims by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP).
For example, Ofcom said ADSL2+ services, which were previously often promoted using the technology's maximum theoretical speed of ‘up to' 24Mbit/sec, are now frequently being advertised as ‘up to' 16Mbit/s – because the maximum speed is rarely achieved. Some ISPs have moved away from promoting their services primarily on the basis of speed focusing instead on price, or added value features such as free security.
But Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of broadband advice site, Thinkbroadband, sounded a note of caution.
"The increase in average broadband speeds from 7.6 to 9Mbits/sec in the last six months is of course great news, but it is important to note that this is partly due to the inclusion of super-fast broadband services in the latest Ofcom study.
"At the end of last year, the government promised to deliver 'the best broadband in Europe by 2015', measured in terms of a mix of availability, speed, price and consumer choice.
"In the current climate, household budgets are tight and therefore increasing take-up of super-fast broadband services is going to be a challenge for service providers and content providers such as Netflix, whose services significantly benefit from faster speeds to deliver an optimum experience in a typical modern household with many simultaneous users," he said.
He added that Thinkbroadband would be releasing a factsheet that will focus on these results and the outlook for 2015 in the coming weeks.
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