back to article Coronavirus didn't hurt UK broadband speeds in March. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, on the other hand...

The surge of furloughed and remote workers caused by the recent COVID-19 lockdown had only a modest impact on UK broadband speeds, claims a new report (PDF) from Ofcom. On average, download speeds declined by just 2 per cent in the week immediately following the imposition of the UK-wide lockdown on 23 March, when compared to …


    beliving the operators...

    the stats come from BT and Virgin media routers... and I would bet not a entirely random sample nor include any outliers

    personally I would have more faith on the tests here :

    what your experience of the above independent speed test ?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: beliving the operators...

      I can't see how to select a server other than Dublin, IE, which may or may not be a typical route. Upload speed maxed out consistently but the download speed results over half a dozen test varied wildly from 90+Mb/s down to 20(ish)Mb/s. Other speed tests I've used tend to be a bit more consistent than that. But I've added it to my list for when I feel the need to check speeds again.

  2. theModge

    Virgin Media varies quite a lot by region

    It depends heavily where you are what service you get with virgin media. Partially I'm told it's a function of their odd network topology in particular if you're former telewest or NTL. Another factor though is how over-subscribed your area is: they get no where near their advertised speed in south birmingham (where I am), but they're pretty good elsewhere

  3. Efer Brick

    Mine has been all over the shop, so bad yesterday (~95% degradation) that I had to switch to mobile to resume a google hangout meeting

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've not had any problems though I'm now running out of cat videos to watch.

  5. anthonyhegedus

    Cat videos aside, I did read that Netflix and Amazon Prime would be reducing their bitrates on HD and UHD movies (in Netflix's case, halving the rate of UHD from 15.25 to 7.62Mbps). They said they're doing this to 'help' people by reducing the load on internet providers to help Britain 'keep working' (or some such nonsense) as usage of these streaming services increases because people are at home. I found out later that actually Netflix and Amazon have costs associated with streaming, and they pay by the GB. They were probably concerned that their costs might increase by more than the number of new subscriptions.

    So they're not doing this to help anyone, they're just looking to help themselves and reduce losses.

    Anyway, all I can report is that the loss is really not visible with Netflix, either with UHD or HD movies. You don't see quite as much high-end detail in Netflix, but it's still very good. However, I've noticed that HD movies in Amazon Prime have lost so much quality that you see low-resolution artefacts and it's quite distracting.

    1. Captain Scarlet

      Don't forget Youtube also does the same at the moment, including Youtube premium subscribers like me (I'm to lazy to install an add blocker, everything tends to go to 720p unless they are potato quality already)

    2. xpz393

      Argh! You've conflicted my vote-button-pressing :-O

      I agree about your first point that this was spun as "doing good" but clearly an opportunity for them to save costs = upvote.

      But I disagree with you that the effect on Netflix has been unnoticeable = downvote.

      I thought something was wrong with our TV or broadband connection until I did some digging and found the article confirming they had reduced the streaming rates.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah? What about upload speeds.

    My virgin upload speed is shit right now. Sub 1mb.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah? What about upload speeds.

      I had sub-1Mbps uploads a few days ago on an M70 package but it is now back to expected, just a little below advertised up-to speeds.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Yeah? What about upload speeds.

      The article mentioned that upload speeds have reduced by 1%, or 2% for Virgin customers.

      Which means that you're an outlier. Sorry.

      If it helps (and I post this knowing that it'll do quite the opposite) my 20Mbps upload on Virgin continues to provide 22Mbps.

    3. Confuciousmobil

      Re: Yeah? What about upload speeds.

      I’m still getting 35Mb +

      My download speeds are restricted by my WiFi as I’m a couple of floors away from my router so I’m only getting 160 but that will do.

    4. tonyyaman

      broad band

      my down load speed is 105 mbps my upload speed is 9.34 Mbps and has been that most of the time since have been with virgin never had problems

  7. anthonyhegedus

    Every customer we've ever had who uses virgin has had problems since the day of install, and forever after. Generally it's OK but when it's bad, it's very bad and it happens too often.

    1. Teiwaz

      Generally it's OK but when it's bad, it's very bad and it happens too often.

      I've been a little impressed (just a little) since covid lockdown started.

      My virgin connection has been better than it was when there wasn't a crisis - might be Google and such limiting HD video and what not, but still far fewer down times - just one hour in the last week or so.

      As long as I don't expect to stream video in the evening, but I'm not a heavy multimedia user anyway.

      1. anthonyhegedus

        "still far fewer down times - just one hour in the last week or so."

        "As long as I don't expect to stream video in the evening"

        That doesn't sound ideal. I've had 12 minutes downtime in the last year. I remember it well. And evening times is when I expect to stream. And I do.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Not a fan of Virgin but ours has been quick since install. Been out of contract a few months and being too lazy to call them I should really do it now. As since lock down, doing speed tests shows the download speeds have dropped. What also really pisses me off is their shitty router. Being forced to use it. If you want to use anything else you have to still use theirs in modem mode. But fuck knows how to get my old Draytek to work with it. It gets an IP address from the Virgin hub but refuses to go out to the Internet.

      Then you have the piss poor security of the hub3 routers. No SSL on the signin page. Can't use secure passwords. And people have reported a year or so ago being able to push JSON code to it and it excepts it no questions. No DNS settings on their routers cause they really want you to use their DNS and no one elses.

      Then you have their business packages yet the router is just as shit. With no option for remote access to the router. Yet Virgin can remote to it whenever they want.


      But when it works they are quick.

    3. Confuciousmobil

      I don’t know where you are but I’ve never had a problem in the 10+ years I’ve been using Virgin.

  8. really_adf

    "Ofcom attributes the resiliency ... to their ability to scale with demand."

    "Ofcom attributes the resiliency shown by broadband providers to their ability to scale with demand."

    I'd have thought it's more down to daytime not being the normal peak for domestic ISPs; no need to scale (much) if capacity is already (mostly) there.

  9. not.known@this.address

    Just curious.

    BT claimed a load of between 35% to 60% then an increase of 90% - so does that mean they went to ~66.5% to ~114% load, or 125% to 150% (rated) load?

  10. Stumpy

    I use Hyperoptic as my ISP, and haven't noticed any slowdown at all in my connection - could be because it's a 1:1 user ratio, so no peer contention from the neighbours. Consequently, I've not noticed any drop in quality on Netflix or Amazon - downloads from Steam suffer a little during peak times, but to be honest, Valve's servers were pretty crap even before the lockdown.

  11. Avatar of They

    Call of Duty.

    Pah.... 50GB was nothing.

    They released dodgy patches in sequence, 1 was the full 171GB download again which crashed every 20 GB or so, then ran one after that of 30 or so GB with a 1 byte download speeds. That must have hit the ISP's more.

    1. Microchip

      Re: Call of Duty.

      Setting the region to US or Asia fixed it somewhat at the time, as did limiting the download bandwidth. Wondered if it was some sort of weird traffic mangling going on.

  12. Mr Sceptical

    QoS much?

    On Plusnet London here;

    I've not noticed limited quality on Amazon Prime, been watching the new season of Bosch in UHD and it's takes a few seconds to go from SD > HD > UHD, but once it's there I can't see any degredation in quality. Netflix is the same AFAIK, but most of it has been kids cartoons recently so hard to say.

    YouTube videos are still resolution selectable to 4K60, no difference there either.

    The absolute bugger has been stuttering, frame drops and audio sync in the multitude of video calls!!!

  13. bazza Silver badge

    Ample Margins

    I don’t know if it was covered in the OFCOM report, but BT had previously told the BBC’s More or Less programme that traffic had risen from 5 to 7Tbps on the nation’s core network but that was OK because there was capacity for 17Tbps.

    A healthy margin!

  14. Mark192

    Massaging the figures?

    I'm too lazy to go look it up but one could make the numbers look better by using an average of the speed throughout the day rather than the lowest speed achieved that day (ie during peak demand).

    I wonder which metric they used?

  15. genghis_uk Silver badge

    Data Caps

    So if the average speeds have been largely unaffected when a large majority of the population are working/playing at home - will they re-introduce data caps and 'peak' time when the plague is over?

    The telcos all say the caps are there to prevent data hogging ruining it for others but their own data is saying otherwise.

    It would be nice if we all had genuinely uncapped, all you can eat data 24hours a day

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