Ofcom reveals what broadband ads should really say

Up to 24Mbits/sec ADSL broadband lines should really be advertised as up to 14Mbits/sec, new figures released by Ofcom suggest.

Ofcom reveals what broadband ads should really say

New advertising regulations due to be introduced in April stipulate that speed claims should be achievable by at least 10% of an ISP’s customers. Ofcom’s latest research shows that, across the industry, lines that are today advertised as up to 20 or 24Mbits/sec should only be advertised as up to 14Mbits/sec under the new advertising guidance.

We ensure the network is slightly over-clocked to ensure we provide sufficient overheads to deliver on our claims

However, as we reported back in September, the advertising watchdog isn’t forcing ISPs to use Ofcom’s independently audited data.

Instead, ISPs will be allowed to supply their own figures, opening the door for broadband providers to potentially cherry pick data to suit their advertising claims.

Although the UK’s average broadband speed increased from 6.2Mbits/sec a year ago to 7.6Mbits/sec today, the average speed of ADSL2+ lines has actually started to fall. Ofcom attributes this to customers moving up to higher speed fibre/cable packages and BT expanding its ADSL network into more rural areas, where the average line length is longer.

Cable speeds exceeding adverts

While ADSL speeds typically fall well below the advertised maximum, cable and fibre broadband speeds are even exceeding the advertised claims, according to Ofcom’s figures.

Ten per cent of customers on Virgin’s 50Mbits/sec lines actually achieve speeds of 51Mbits/sec, while 10% of those on the cable provider’s 30Mbits/sec lines actually see speeds of 32Mbits/sec. “We ensure the network is slightly over-clocked to ensure we provide sufficient overheads to deliver on our claims,” a Virgin spokesman told PC Pro.

The speed of BT’s fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) lines is also improving, despite more people being added to the network and the risk of greater contention. The median speed of the up to 40Mbits/sec FTTC lines has increased to 38Mbits/sec, while peak time speeds have increased by 9Mbits/sec over the same period last year.

“This suggests that increasing FTTC speeds come as a result of BT having increased backhaul capacity in its core network to deal with the extra demand associated with superfast connections,” Ofcom states.


BT up to 8Mbits/sec 4-5Mbits/sec
Plusnet up to 8Mbits/sec 3.7-4.9Mbits/sec
Virgin Media up to 10Mbits/sec 9.3-9.6Mbits/sec

BT up to 20Mbits/sec 7.8-9.7Mbits/sec
Karoo up to 24Mbits/sec 7.7-10.0Mbits/sec
O2/Be up to 20/24Mbits/sec 8.8-10.7Mbits/sec
Orange up to 20Mbits/sec 6.3-8.1Mbits/sec
Plusnet up to 20Mbits/sec 7.2-9.3Mbits/sec
Sky up to 20Mbits/sec 6.8-8.3Mbits/sec
TalkTalk up to 24Mbits/sec 7.2-8.8Mbits/sec

Virgin Media up to 30Mbits/sec 30.6-31.4Mbits/sec
BT up to 40Mbits/sec 35.4-36.7Mbits/sec
Virgin Media up to 50Mbits/sec 47.4-48.8Mbits/sec

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