Shocking state of British broadband revealed

New figures reveal that more than four out of ten British broadband connections are slower than 2Mb/sec

Barry Collins
25 Nov 2008

The deplorable speed of British broadband connections has been revealed in the the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, which show that 42.3% of broadband connections are slower than 2Mb/sec.

As far back as last year, telecoms regulator Ofcom was claiming "the average headline speed has doubled in a year to reach 4.6Mb/sec".

Comment: the chocolate fireguard starts to crack

However, the ONS figures suggest that average is being heavily weighted by a small proportion of truly high-speed connections, such as the 24Mb/sec ADSL2+ broadband offered by ISPs with Local Loop Unbundled services.

More worryingly, the ONS statistics are based on the connection's headline speed, not actual throughput. That means that many more British broadband connections could well dip below the 2Mb/sec barrier when it comes to actual speeds.

A separate report issued yesterday by Ofcom revealed that the majority of broadband users had no idea about the speed of their connection. "The proportion of broadband customers unaware of their connection speeds has continued to grow - 55% were unaware of their connection speed (actual speed)," the Ofcom report claimed.

Nevertheless, the Ofcom Consumer Satisfaction report claimed that almost a fifth of broadband customers were unhappy with the speed of their connection. Incredibly, the regulator - which consistently quotes headline speeds instead of the actual speeds - blamed the press for confusing the public. "Press coverage about advertised maximum or headline speeds differing from actual speeds may have increased the confusion," the report stated.

The ONS figures also reveal that the number of fixed-line broadband connections has fallen by 0.4% from quarter to quarter.

The ONS put this down to the declining number of dial-up connections, but it seems likely that the increasingly popular mobile broadband - which isn't measured by the ONS - is also contributing to the reduction of fixed-line connections.

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