The UK’s telco regulator Ofcom has published its latest broadband speed report which shows that the average broadband speed people are getting in their homes is 17.8Mbps.
The bi-annual report shows that the average speed has increased by 3.1Mbps in the last six months, up from 14.7Mbps in May 2013. But despite the overall picture looking rosy, the gap between urban and rural speeds remains wide.
Most of this growth has been pinned on the continued rollout of superfast FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) by BT, as part of its own network upgrade and BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) as well as Virgin Media’s speed boosting programme.
Much of the focus of BT’s commercial rollout has fixated on urban and suburban areas, part of the country where the UK’s biggest ISP is more likely to receive a return on its £2.5 billion investment.
Ofcom: Speeds above 30 per cent now available in 25 per cent of homes
Take-up of superfast broadband has increased with connections providing speeds of over 30Mbps now being used in 25 per cent of homes.
Broadband lines providing speeds in the 10Mbps-30Mbps margin are available in 64 per cent of British homes. The remaining 11 per cent of homes surveyed reported speeds of between 8Mbps-10Mbps.
Recently Ofcom revealed that superfast broadband – defined as a connection which can provide speeds of above 24Mbps – was available in over 75 per cent of UK homes.
The data published today was been drawn from 2,391 monitoring routers provided by SamKnows across the UK, throughout November 2013.
While the sample size doesn’t include a totally complete picture of Broadband Britain – there’s no mention of companies like Hyperoptic and Gigaclear – it does show that generally speaking, customers are continuing to receive faster and better services from their ISPs.
Ofcom’s report does attempt to shed light on how speeds differ across different parts of the UK and had included average download speeds for urban, suburban and rural areas. This indicative analysis is based on estimates of ADSL speeds possible on average lengths of phone lines in each area and isn’t based on actual speed test data.
Ofcom says that the that the UK’s average speed would weigh in at around 25Mbps if it took this approach for its main report and suggests that the results are exaggerated. That said, the regulator estimates that speeds in cities are likely to be three times greater than they are in the sticks.
Superfast Broadband: Town and Country divide remains
Ofcom was able to provide some actual data comparing urban to rural speeds, but as you can see, the rural sample is significantly smaller than the urban one, making direct comparisons here difficult. Ofcom notes that as BDUK projects start to deliver faster speeds to rural communities, the gap should close.
Similarly, if just one subscriber using a Hyperoptic or Gigaclear line was included in the Urband and Rural FTTx samples, then the average fibre speeds would shoot up.
At the same time, the regulator expects that, because speeds of FTTC lines decrease the longer the copper ‘last mile’ is, there may still be an urban-rural gap. Ofcom says that it’s working with Openreach and ISPs to assess how FTTC test data could be normalised in the future.
BT is also looking at introducing vectoring and G.fast technology on FTTC lines, which could see speeds increase dramatically. The introduction of up to 152Mbps speeds by Virgin Media will also likley factor in future Ofcom reports, pushing the average UK speed up even higher.
However you slice it and wherever you look, it’s clear that for the great majority of people, Broadband Britain is slowly getting fitter, happier and more productive.
You can check your current broadband speed, to see if your speeds match the average, with our broadband speed test tool.
Image: Joe Hart/Flickr