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BT and Virgin Media’s superfast broadband super slanging match

In the teeth of yesterday’s Ofcom report, BT and Virgin Media found the time to snipe at each other from the sidelines. 

The report showed that the main reason for the increase in the UK’s average download speed overall was adoption of superfast broadband, courtesy of BT’s Infinity products and Virgin Media’s cable broadband services. Virgin Media’s speed doubling programme, which has seen customers being moved onto faster 30Mbps services, was also credited with the speed spike. 

BT and Virgin Media superfast broadband super slanging match

For the first time since Ofcom began its broadband speed reports, its been reported that the UK’s average download speed has broken the double figures barrier. As well as this, Ofcom crowned Virgin Media as the UK’s fastest ISP, to the chagrin of BT which is busy rolling out BT Infinity wherever it can. 

On publication of the report, a BT spokesperson was quick to send over the following: 

“Ofcom’s survey shows that BT’s customers are getting faster speeds than ever before and that BT’s fibre products provide the most reliable experience. It reveals our network is much more likely than Virgin’s to deliver the same speeds in the evening peak times when people most value their connection. We are pleased that Ofcom noted that on some Virgin Media products up to two-thirds of customers saw a significant slowdown in speeds at peak times.”

Virgin Media didn’t take too kindly to this potshot and responded in kind:

“Ofcom’s report proves that Virgin Media customers get the fastest broadband around, at peak times and all day long,” a spokesperson said, refuting BT’s tack. “We always deliver speeds far closer to our headline claims than BT manages at any time of day so BT is right to point out their network’s consistency – consistently failing to deliver what they promise.”

Two saucers of milk please waiter.

But looking again at Ofcom’s report there’s some truths behind both statements. Virgin Media’s 100Mbps package clearly offers a much faster service compared to what BT Infinity 2 does. Average download speeds on Virgin Media’s top tier service (up to 100Mbps) over a 24 hour period weigh in at 90.4Mbps-94.9Mbps compared to BT’s Infinity 2 (up to 76Mbps) 61.3Mbps-65.2Mbps. At peak times (between 8:00PM-10:00PM) however, Virgin’s services were noticeably slower than during other times of day.

While BT does offer a faster FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) based service, this is only available in a handful of locations right now and didn’t make the requirements for Ofcom’s sample size.  For the average consumer in the high street, Virgin Media does offer the fastest speeds around.

That said, the report notes that on average, things like latency, page loading times and DNS resolution times were slightly lower on BT’s fastest Infinity service, suggesting a more stable and reliable connection.

BT and Virgin Media superfast broadband super slanging match

Virgin Media’s claim that BT falls short of delivering headline speeds for all can be backed up by figures showing that on average 41 per cent of customers surveyed received download speeds between 70Mbps-80Mbps.

We’ll be taking a look at Ofcom’s review of the UK’s main superfast services in closer detail later. Until then, have a look at how the figures for ADSL2+-based broadband measure up, along with figures from last year’s superfast analysis.


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