UK broadband speeds 'only half as fast as advertised' says Ofcom

Advertised broadband speeds in the UK are only half as fast as most ISPs (internet service providers) claim, according to the latest research by Ofcom.

Data released by the industry regulator shows that, despite a 10% increase in average broadband speeds in the six months to May – up from 6.2 megabits per second (Mbps) in November to 6.8Mbps – the average advertised speed was 15Mbps.

Ofcom surveyed the home data connections of 1700 people.

Worst offenders were those using copper-based DSL phone lines, as used in 75% of UK homes.

Customers with broadband packages offering speeds "up to" 20Mbps and 24Mbps actually received an average speed of 6.6Mbps, according to the research – and more than a third of these customers got average speeds of 4Mbps or less.

Ed Richards, the chief executive of Ofcom, says: "The research is still telling us that some consumers are not receiving anywhere near the speeds that are being advertised by some ISPs."

Four of the largest ISPs – BT, Sky, Virgin Media and O2 – have signed up to Ofcom's new code of practice, which comes into effect today and dictates that customers must be given an expected speed at the point of sale.

Jon James, executive director of broadband for Virgin Media, adds: "The gulf between what's advertised and what speeds customers get continues to grow. Although we deliver more than 90% of the speeds we advertise, we remain concerned that people paying for fast broadband are still being misled."

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.