back to article Ofcom: UK broadband speed on the up as punters' packages swell

Average broadband speeds in Blighty are on the up, communications watchdog Ofcom concluded in a report published this morning. Of course, some might argue that it's impossible to define a national average given the disparity of broadband network connections across the UK. Ofcom said that as of November last year, the country' …


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  1. br0die

    Oh fuck off

    This is all well and good, giving people who already have fibre higher speed.

    What about us that are stuck on the end of a 6-mile length of copper? Us that get 1mbps on a good day, but usually .3-.5?

    All I ever see in the news is BT rolling out fibre to all and sundry (when really, they are "rolling out" to the exchanges, after which only 40% of those get it to their cab. Those people usually already had fibre from Virgin). Virgin increases their speeds, so it is possible to get over 100mbps if you wanna pay for it. Guess what? I would gladly pay for it. But there is no high-speed broadband anywhere on the horizon for people in my area, a communications not-spot in the middle of a city full of fibre.

    Maybe focus on getting everyone up to something like 5mbps before you try and play catch-up with the rest of the West, climbing to three figures.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, we get 2-3 megs in the suburbs, and VM aren't likely to cable here any time soon. BT wont be extending infinity out here either. The problem is we are too far away from the centre and the population density is too low to justify it and we don't get any subsidies that the countryside gets for faster internet.

      1. James Cooke

        You don't even have to be in the suburbs or villages. I'm 1.5 miles from the center of a major Uni town and get sub 2mbps speeds due to odd exchange placements. Ammusingly my uncle who lives in a very small village 45 mins away gets over double our speed.

        The infrastructure in this country is so far behind the leading edge that it's laughable.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sitting pretty on 38.9meg on TT Fibre :)

      <Smug look>

  2. Bob H

    My mother gets 3.5Mbit/sec and is on Orange because it is free, she doesn't need much more and as a pensioner she can't justify spending more money to move to a better ISP who might provide better overall performance.

    I'm on Virgin 30Mbit/sec getting 26Mbit/sec and even if I am technology focused I don't see the need to upgrade further. If anything I would like more upload than I currently have and I would pay for that.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    7Mb/s I wish

    I'd be happy with the 'expected' 6Mb/s that I should get rather than the 2.5 I typically get. Oh and for the connection to not drop all the bloody time (3 ISPs and numerous routers have show it's BTs problem)! No I don't live in the sticks, but in West London, however I'm stuck 2 miles form the exchange, Oh and copper? Our line is Al, as witnessed when the phone stopped working not long after we moved in and the engineer who came to look, almost burst out laughing when he saw the state of the line.

    I hardly watch the TV, so whilst nice Mr Branson may sell me a fast connection, he also charges me for a whole load of stuff I don't want/need.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't watch TV either.

      You don't need to purchase anything else to have Virgin broadband.

      I have their telephone service as it costs little more than their broadband only tariff but they is nothing making me take any other service from them.

  4. The First Dave

    “It is encouraging that speeds are increasing and that consumers have a real choice of broadband service"

    My speed has gone down a fraction over the last four or five years, and my choice is between broadband from BT or nothing...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about upload?

    I'll tell you what I want ... better upload speeds.

    The Internet is far, far more than a simple consumption venue.

    I run private game servers for me and my friends to use. I'm recording media and putting it on sites like YouTube.

    A download speed of 7Mbs is more an adequate for me, but I'm really hacked off with having to kick people off the game for a couple of hours while I upload a fifteen minutes video on my less than half Mbs upload pipe.

    When are they going to get around to sorting that one out? Anyone know?

    1. Denshi

      On ADSL? Probably never - the protocols just aren't developed that way. Even AnnexM caps out around 2.5Mb upload and that requires that you live practically in the exchange.

      However the FTTC stuff looks more hopeful if it ever gets rolled out to enough places. That 80Mb upgrade mentioned at the end of the article is supposed to come with a matching 20Mb upload which should be sufficent for at least the immediate future.

    2. Terry Barnes


      When the laws of physics change. Increasing the bandwidth (in the proper sense of the term) of the upstream carrier would swamp the downstream one.

      You either need SDSL (at ten or twenty times what you pay today) or a non-copper technology.

      1. Bob H

        At my office I have an "EFM" which is 10-20Mbit/sec symmetrical, it cost a fair bit less than the best SDSL, or cheapest BT fibre, but was still 10x more than the same ADSL2+ cost (inc line rental).

        ADSL2+ & Rental ~£35pm

        EFM ~£350pm

        Plus the install of an EFM is expensive/difficult, but overall it was much cheaper than the fibre lease to get fast upload.

  6. micheal

    Here in Rural Norfolk

    We have bought a "3" sim card router as the speed (280kbs is almost 20 times the alternative which is dial-up

    with a village of 60 people we are not even on the list to get mains gas anytime soon even tho the pipe runs across the field 200 yards away, likeways, BT went past us, into the town and back to us making it over the 4Km BB distance

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Aint seen no fibre rolling my way!

    30 miles from London, 3 miles from the M3, 9 miles from Basingstoke, 2 miles from an exchange serving about 6000 properties.

    Only option? ADSL.

    There was originally a date pencilled in for 21cn services, which has subsequently been dropped.

    So, in other words, hardly a remote location and very much on the commuter belt to a large city - and not even far from an exchange.

    How many other towns in blightly are in the same situation and why is it there's no information on exactly when this broadband revolution will be available to all?

    I wants me broadband dammit!

  8. br0die

    This article, tl;dr

    tl;dr: "People with decent speeds will be getting better speeds. People with 90s-era speeds still stuck with 90s speeds."

  9. seanj


    My connection (with BT as my provider) dropped over the weekend from around 5-6Mb/s to about 2-2.5Mb/s... I may be being unneccesarily cynical when I wonder if it's at all related to the fact that "superfast" BT Infinity will be available at the end of the month ....

  10. squilookle

    Virgin Media are the only option for fast broadband round here. BT, TalkTalk et al can't provide more than 2mb/s on a good day. I don't like Virgin Media, but I don't like the alternatives either, so I'm happy I have an option, atleast.

    Rather than focusing on the average speed and cheering when it goes up, there should be a focus on bringing the lower speeds up to scratch. I don't believe anyone disagrees with that, yet it doesn't seem to be a priority either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No Focus

      Why would there be a focus? ISPs are a business. If your 2Mbps connection increases to 4Mbps you'll still expect to pay the same - so why would any business spend money to earn zero extra revenue? It's a tough situation if you're the customer with 2Mbps but there's zero incentive to spend any money improving the speed of a customer who won't pay more if they do see an increase and who wouldn't seen an improvement by moving to a competitor.

      Moving to one of the 'super' options of whatever flavour though, people pay more - so the investment can be recouped, though even then it's not a great business case. With a general decline in price the question is whether the investment in new equipment now can be recovered and a profit made before the kit is obsolete. If a business can't convince the bank that such a thing is possible they'll not get to borrow the money to do it.

  11. This Side Up

    I'm paying for "up to 8Mb"

    I'm getting around 15kB/s downstream and often a higher speed upstream. Why should I pay more for FTTC when there's no guarantee that I'll get any more than I'm paying for already? Anyway I'm only a mile from the exchange so it's not the copper pair that's throttling the speed. It's either lack of backhaul capacity of deliberate throttling. I'll pay for "at least" but not for "up to".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The guarantee is that with BT/TT Fibre, if you can't get AT LEAST 15mbps, they won't install it and you won't have to pay anything for them trying.

      If your getting 15kB/s download, check your filters, faceplate, internal phone wiring, sky box is filtered, router is ok. 8 times out of 10 the problem is in your property.

      Otherwise your too far from the exchange or you have a line fault/shitty Al line.

      Check, see what's available and how far you are from the exchange - btw the cable doesn't always take the shortest route.

      Yeah, I work in telecoms, accept it or either move to fibre (cable/FTTC) or when you move house check the BB speed for the area first.

  12. Andy The Hat Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Brilliant, I read FTTC will be fast . Unfortunately the bit of wet string from the shed containing the cabinet (over the ditch, beside the third cow on the left) to my house would dampen the ardour of the signal slightly. I was amazingly 'well endowed' with 6Mbps a few years ago,but that has not stagnated at 5Mbps and is negotiated with plenty ...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Usain "Identity Theft" Bolt is upping my broadband from 20Mbps to 60Mbps which is part of the reason I bought into cable as long ago as CableTel. However, I don't really see why VM should keep their monopoly on that fibre seeing as BT were forced into losing their monopoly on wires.

    The real problem though is we have a government espousing socialist ideals, "super-fast broadband for all", with a capitalist approach to delivering it. At least they dropped the nonsense of taxing those who have it to pay for those who don't.

    1. br0die

      Exactly! That is the problem in this country. BT is public? Fine, then we can petition the gov for better coverage and speed. Private from the start? Fine, there will be lots of companies who can compete for our business. But this situation where a private company was handed the public infrastructure (both BT and Telewest/VM) is a terrible situation, where only the corps win.

      My area is notorious for bad internet, because unless you are on fibre, you have to use the exchange from the town to the west or the town to the north, we don't have our own. Our local Con MP was elected partly on the grounds that he promised better broadband. Now he was elected, he says "derp, actually the ISPs are all private companies, I can't tell them what to do..". So much for that. Capitalism = retarded.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        BT's network was sold by the government, it wasn't given away. Shareholders paid for it and the government of the day gave that money away in tax cuts. BT wasn't handed anything, because the network and all the other assets are owned by the shareholders. Your pension fund probably owns part of it.

        The cable companies were never publicly owned. The networks have been built out since the early 90's by various private companies (all of whom failed, none of whom ever made a profit) and are now owned by Virgin media. The significant business problem in their case was the dramatic decline in call charges (ironically driven by competition) that ruined their investment cases and meant that they could never recoup their investment. It takes along time to recover a £1000 install when your customer only pays £10 a month and half of that goes to ongoing costs. Even picking up these assets in fire sales at a fraction of their paid-for value NTL and Telewest couldn't make a profit from these networks.

        The most significant problem for any business of whatever flavour investing in broadband is that the rate people are prepared to pay (and prices are still falling) don't cover the cost of doing it. The networks we have out there *points* are a result of the low prices we have. The UK has very cheap broadband and telephony, other countries have faster broadband. I'd argue that you can't have both in the same country without huge subsidy from government.

        Empirically, if there was a market for high-speed broadband that could be served economically by a new entrant - someone would be serving it. People come along, people try, people go bust. BT and Virgin have huge networks, huge economies of scale and even they can barely make it pay, requiring government handouts to cover all but the most densely populated areas.

  14. Blue eyed boy

    I would prefer to see

    ... broadband prices on the down.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But that kills the investment case.

      Let's say it costs £800 of capital expenditure to provide you with super whizzy Internet at 20Mbps+. If you pay £30 a month it's going to be 2.5 years before I'm even, and that's discounting the costs of running the service - helpdesks, billing, replacing faulty routers, power and rent to house my kit, some techies to turn it all off and on again every now and then. If prices decline I might never see a profit. And it I might never see a profit, no investor in their right mind is going to lend me £800 to give you fast broadband.

      So, if I'm being smart with my investor's money - I'll invest where there's already proven demand. That means super whizzy broadband goes where there are already lots of DSL customers. If a village has only a handful of people paying for DSL today, what changes that makes them all suddenly want fibre laid down their front paths? If they won't pay £15 for DSL they'll definitely not pay £30 for super-whizzy, and that's true whichever provider is causing traffic jams by digging up the road.

      Where a business case is marginal, areas of proven demand are prioritised. If prices fall, that prioritisation will be felt even more sharply, because otherwise no-one will invest and no-one gets super-whizzy.

      1. br0die

        Precisely. Which is why telecoms should be public, or at least heavily subsidised.

  15. Red Bren

    Squaring a circle

    I can't get these two quotes to corroborate:

    "The country's average actual residential broadband speed stood at 7.6Mbit/s"

    "58 per cent of UK residential broadband connections had an advertised speed of above 10Mbit/s"

    Now I know there's more than one way to calculate an average, but if more than half the country's broadband users are paying for 10Mbit/s or greater, shouldn't the average speed also be greater? A quick check on a comparison site found most products are 20Mbit/s or faster and no products are less than 8Mbit/s, so it's not the 42% on sub-10Mbit/s packages that are bringing down the actual average speed. A more plausible explanation is the majority of customers are being sold short, but instead of apologising for their abject failure to regulate the market, OFCOM appear to be patting themselves on the back!

    1. br0die

      actual vs. advertised? Seems pretty straight forward to me.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can someone mathematically minded please go down to Riverside house, preferably armed with a cricket bat to ensure clarity, and explain to the serial back-patters that dwell therein why a straight average is nothing better than self serving guff that obscures the fact that for very, very large numbers of the population 'crap' will be the best way to describe their connections for a long time to come.

    The Office of National stats seem keen to stop the government bandying about meaningless raw immigration data, how about they give Ofcom's little feelgood fairy story the same deserving smackdown?

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