Ofcom boasts of broadband boost

Regulatory body Ofcom has released its latest figures for average fixed-line residential broadband speeds in the – showing a slight improvement as operators tout superfast speeds.

The 9.0 Mbps average shows that speeds have now increased by more than double compared to those seen at the start of Ofcom’s research in November 2008.  At that point the average was 3.6 Mbps.

According to the telecoms watchdog, speeds have also shown some improvement from the average this time last year, which was 6.8 Mbps. There are two reasons for the increases.  

Firstly there have been more consumers signing up to ‘super fast’ packages from the likes of Virgin Media, which promises speeds of up to 60 Mbps. However, the average speeds for ‘super fast’ packages grew from only slightly, from 35.5Mbps in November 2011 to 35.8Mbps this May.

Despite this, the number of superfast broadband subscriptions grew to eight percent, up from five percent in November and two percent last May.  At the lower end, the number of broadband packages offering up to 10Mbps grew from 48 percent a year ago, up to 68 percent this May.

Ofcom also thinks the increases are thanks to many customers receiving network upgrades from their internet service providers – generally at no cost to subscribers.

BT, for example, upgraded its ASDL network, while Virgin began work on doubling speeds for its top end broadband package.

However, Thinkbroadband co-founder John Hunt told TechEye that – athough the speed increases will be welcomed by customers – they are do not represent a massive leap forward.
“The increased speeds in Ofcom’s research is somewhat attributable to the inclusion of super-fast broadband services in the average,” Hunt said, “so the real increase is not as impressive.”

“Upgrades by Openreach on older generation ADSL services also help to increase the figure,” Hunt said. “The average speeds now more closely reflects the real world.”

He also noted that the results do not necessarily take into account those in rural areas unable to get fast – let alone super-fast – connections.

“It is however, important to note it does not take into consideration the fact that there are still many users unable to get a decent broadband connection, struggling at the margins of online society, especially but not exclusively, in more rural areas,” Hunt said.

“Those users will need to see significant improvements in the next three years if the government’s promise to deliver the best broadband in Europe by 2015″ is going to be met,” he said.