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Average UK broadband speeds hit double figures

Residential broadband speeds more than treble in four years to 12.0Mbit/s

Average residential UK broadband speeds reached 12.0Mbit/s in November 2012, Ofcom research reveals.

Ofcom’s latest report into fixed-line residential broadband speeds shows that the average actual UK speed has risen by a third (3.1Mbit/s or 34%) in the six months from May to November 2012, as take-up of ‘superfast’ services increased.

The report also shows that the average broadband speed has more than trebled in the last four years, from 3.6Mbit/s in November 2008 to its current level of 12.0Mbit/s (an increase of 234%).

Table One: Average actual UK fixed-line residential broadband speeds since November 20081

Date Average actual UK fixed-line residential broadband speed
Nov 2008 3.6Mbit/s
May 2009 4.1Mbit/s
May 2010 5.2Mbit/s
Nov/Dec 2010 6.2Mbit/s
May 2011 6.8Mbit/s
Nov 2011 7.6Mbit/s
May 2012 9.0Mbit/s
November 2012 12.0Mbit/s

Migration to high-speed services gains momentum

Consumers’ continuing migration to higher-speed broadband packages is helping to drive the increase in actual UK average speeds2.

By November 2012, more than three quarters (77%) of UK fixed-line residential broadband users were on packages with advertised speeds above ‘up to’ 10Mbit/s, up from 58% a year earlier.

The proportion of broadband connections classed as ‘superfast’ (those with an advertised speed of ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s or above) is also on the increase. By November 2012, 13% of residential broadband connections were superfast, more than doubling from 5% in November 2011.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Our research shows that UK consumers are adopting faster broadband packages to cater for their increasing use of bandwidth-heavy services such as video streaming. The increase in the average number of connected devices in UK homes is also driving the need for speed.

“Internet providers are working to meet consumer demand through network upgrades and the launch of superfast packages, giving consumers faster speeds and greater choice.”

Average speeds by connection category

Superfast

The research shows that residential superfast broadband connections are getting faster, with average speeds increasing from 35.8Mbit/s in May 2012, to 44.6Mbit/s in November 2012 (an increase of 8.8Mbit/s or 25%).

The increase during this six-month period was primarily driven by growth in take-up of ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) services and Virgin Media continuing to upgrade its existing customer base on to higher speed services.

Current Generation

For connections with a headline speed above ‘up to’ 10Mbit/s but below ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s, average speeds increased from 7.3Mbit/s in May 2012, to 8.1Mbit/s in November 2012 (an increase of 0.7Mbit/s or 10%).3

Average speeds within the ‘up to’ 2Mbit/s and ‘up to’ (and including) 10Mbit/s category fell from 5.6Mbit/s to 4.4Mbit/s during the same period (a decrease of 1.2Mbit/s or 21%).

This decrease is partly due to the fact that this category now contains a lower proportion of cable connections (as a result of Virgin Media’s ‘double speed’ upgrade programme), which typically deliver much higher speeds than the copper connections that make up the rest of this category.4

Average speeds by technology

Of the different types of broadband technologies, Ofcom’s research found that cable broadband connections generated the greatest increases in average speeds in the six months to November 2012 – up by 10.4Mbit/s (58%) to 28.3Mbit/s.

Average actual speeds recorded for fibre connections also increased, by 9.4Mbit/s (30%) to 41.0Mbit/s, during the same period.

Average speeds for ADSL broadband – a technology that delivers broadband over copper wires – also increased, albeit by just 0.2Mbit/s (3%) to 6.0Mbit/s.

Comparisons between ISPs’ download speeds

Of the 12 ISP packages included in the report, Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 100Mbit/s service was the fastest, with the research revealing average actual speeds of 92.6Mbit/s over a 24 hour period.

Of the other superfast packages included in the research, the average download speed on BT Infinity’s ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s service was 63.3Mbit/s, compared with Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 60Mbit/s at 59.0Mbit/s.

BT’s ‘up to’ 38Mbit/s package achieved speeds of 34.2Mbit/s while Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s service had average speeds of 28.7Mbit/s.

Measuring speeds at peak times

The report contains new analysis comparing average peak time speeds (weekdays from 8pm to 10pm) with maximum connection speeds (the maximum speed achieved by each connection during the month).

Networks can become more congested at peak times resulting in lower speeds. This is known as ‘network contention’. 5 The most significant differences in speeds achieved at peak times occurred for superfast packages.

In this category, the proportion of panellists who, on average, received more than 90% of their maximum speeds at peak times ranged from 35% for Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s service to 91% for BT’s ‘up to’ 38Mbit/s service.

The findings suggest that, while there was relatively little congestion in BT’s fibre network in November 2012, levels of contention were higher in Virgin Media’s cable network.

Table Two: Average download speeds by ISP package6

These ranges reflect the average speeds that would be achieved 95 times out of 100 if the exercise was repeated with 100 sets of different panellists. If the range of two operators overlap, then these operators offer comparable performance. These ranges are not a description of the range of speeds actually measured.

 

Fastest upload speeds

Ofcom’s research also looks at upload speeds, which are particularly important to those consumers looking to share large files or use real-time video communications. The average actual upload speed of a UK fixed broadband connection was 1.4Mbit/s in November 2012, 0.3Mbit/s (30%) higher than the average recorded in May 2012.

The research found that BT Infinity’s ‘up to’ 76Mbit/s service delivered the highest upload speeds of all the packages, averaging 16.1Mbit/s. Among the ADSL2+ packages included in the research, O2’s service provided the fastest average upload speeds at 1.0Mbit/s.

Ofcom broadband speeds research

This is Ofcom’s eighth report into fixed-line residential broadband speeds using data collected by research partner SamKnows.

The report provides data on the average performance of fixed-line residential broadband in the UK and of the individual ISP packages included in the research. In total, these packages accounted for over 60% of UK residential broadband connections in November 2012.

The results help consumers to understand the significant variations in the performance of ISP packages and, when considered alongside other factors such as price, can help them to make more informed purchasing decisions.

All of the UK’s largest ISPs are signatories to Ofcom’s Voluntary Code of Practice on broadband speeds. Ofcom is conducting mystery shopping research to check ISPs’ compliance with the code this year.

Ofcom will also be carrying out research to assess the average mobile broadband speeds received by 3G and 4G customers. Ofcom expects to conduct this research around December 2013 and publish the results in spring 2014.

UK internet ‘to be fastest in Europe by 2015’

The UK will have the fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

He reiterated that he wanted to bring high-speed broadband – which he defined as greater than 24 Megabits per second – to more than 90% of the country.

Mr Hunt outlined the ambition in a speech at Google’s Campus building in east London.

His comments followed heavy criticism last month from a Lords committee which said plans were too focused on speed.

The report from the communications committee said Mr Hunt’s ambitions were “misguided” and left “a very real risk that some people and businesses are being left behind, that inadequate access to the internet and all its benefits is actually afflicting their daily lives”.

On Monday, Mr Hunt defended his focus on higher speeds, which he said would be needed in order for the UK’s network to remain competitive with others in Europe.

“We simply will not have a competitive broadband network unless we recognise the massive growth in demand for higher and higher speeds,” Mr Hunt said.

“Today’s superfast is tomorrow’s superslow. Just as the last government was wrong to hang its hat on 2Mbps speeds, we must never fall into the trap of saying any speed is ‘enough’.”

Fibre To The Home

He said the government had begun looking at the ways it will allocate part of a £300m slice of the television license fee to provide high-speed broadband to a greater number than the existing target of 90% of the country.

Initially, much of this speed increase will be achieved by a Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) system, in which high-speed fibre cabling is connected to a cabinet near a user’s home.

Internet data will then travel the final distance through copper cabling, which is slower. The possible connection speed available via FTTC decreases as it travels further away from the cabinet.

Because of this issue, Mr Hunt said FTTC will only be a temporary measure.

“The reason we are backing Fibre To The Cabinet as a potential medium-term solution is simple: The increase in speeds that it allows – 80 Mbps certainly but in certain cases up to 1 gigabit – will comfortably create Europe’s biggest and most profitable high-speed broadband market,” he said.

“And in doing so we will create the conditions whereby, if fibre to the home is still the best way to get the very highest speeds, private sector companies will invest to provide it.”

Fibre To the Home (FTTH) allows a fibre-speed connection to reach individual homes without the need for slower copper cabling.

By 2016, he said up to two-thirds of the country will be able to access Fibre To The Home (FTTH).

[Via BBC News]

BT to offer 300 Mbps fibre optic broadband ‘on demand’ in 2013

Fibre optic connections with speeds of up to 300 Megabits per second will be available on demand in 2013, BT says.

That is three times the maximum 100 Mbps speed the company currently offers using the technology and it described the development as a “game changer”.

According to Ofcom the current UK broadband average is 7.6 Mbps.BT said it hoped to create a “mass market” for high speed broadband among small and medium sized businesses following trials in Cornwall.

The company made the announcement following successful trials of fibre to the premise (FTTP) in St Agnes.

“By December 2014, two-thirds of the country will have access to ultra-fast fibre if they want it” said Mike Galvin of Openreach, part of the BT group. The firm plans to roll out the system starting next year.

Costly connections

Optical fibre links to street cabinets are widespread, but the connection from cabinet to premises is in most cases copper cable, limiting the speed of the connection.

FTTP will require a fibre-optic connection to the premise from the street cabinet to be installed.

But that may not mean digging up the road.

“It could be overhead, might be on a pole, might be in an existing ductwork,” Openreach’s Mike Galvin told the BBC.

But connection will come at a price. BT said the installation fees will most likely be in the high hundreds of pounds, possibly more.

What individual customers will have to pay will depend on whether companies who provide broadband connections, such as ISPs, pass them on to consumers.

Spending on speed

Installing a high-speed connection at a price is not in itself innovative, but BT believes the new product is a significant development.

“If you had the money you could have had your own private plane as well, and that’s the difference – you are making something that was previously a high-end product and you’re bringing availability to the mass market,” Mr Galvin said.

He added that the FTTP system was “future proof” allowing BT to upgrade as still faster technologies were developed.

“There are technologies coming up which will give speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps),” he said.

BT said the roll out was enabled by changes to the way they use their network.

“We’ve re-engineered and re-looked at how we do fibre in our local network,” Mr Galvin said.

“We think this is an absolute game changer. Overnight you’ve gone form a network that’s got the potential to do 80 Mbps across two thirds of the country to a network that on demand can do 300 Mbps.”

At present the company only offers FTTP for the areas around 14 exchanges.

Changing commitments

Some rivals have accused BT of cutting back on previous commitments – namely dropping a target for the percentage of properties with fibre to the door.

Virgin recently announced they were doubling broadband speeds however, BT said it still planned to spend the same £2.5bn on fibre, and that in cases where the fibre only went up the cabinet, premises would soon be able to get 80 Mbps speed.

A spokesman told the BBC, “Before this development FTTP was going to be available in a relatively small subset of our fibre footprint. This development means it can be available in the whole of our fibre footprint.”

The government wants 90% of UK businesses to be connected to super-fast broadband by 2015.

The announcement of BT’s new product follows news of high-speed offerings from rivals.

A Virgin Media spokesman said: “We’re about to boost the speeds for millions of people yet again with our doubling upgrade and the introduction of 120 Mbps.

“Having successfully proven 1.5 Gbps on our network last summer, Britain’s broadband is moving in the right direction.”

Via: BBC News

184,000 more homes and businesses in the North West targeted for super-fast broadband

Fifteen more communities added in BT’s £2.5 billion fibre broadband roll-out.

More than 184,000 more homes and businesses across the North West are poised to benefit from super-fast broadband as part of a major expansion of BT’s roll-out plans.

Aintree, Bootle, Churchtown, Great Crosby, Huyton, St Helens and Widnes in Greater Merseyside, Dalton-in-Furness and Kendal in Cumbria, Ardwick in Manchester, Cleveleys and Hesketh Bank in Lancashire, as well as Ashton-in-Makerfield, Hindley and Wigan are among the latest communities to be included in the company’s £2.5 billion roll-out of fibre broadband.

It will take the number of North West homes and businesses being passed by the new super-fast network to more than 1.7 million.
The latest upgrades are due to be completed during this year (2012).

BT’s local network business Openreach is driving forward plans to make super-fast fibre broadband available to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of 2014*. The innovative network features a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) technologies. Speeds are vastly superior to those previously available to many UK homes and businesses.

FTTC, delivered to street cabinets, currently offers download speeds of up to 40Mbps with 10Mbps upstream. Openreach has said it will roughly double these speeds next year. FTTP, where the fibre goes directly to homes and businesses, offers speeds of up to 100Mbps, rising to 300Mbps in the spring. This compares with 6.8Mbps, the average actual speed of all UK broadband according to Ofcom’s latest research published in July 2011.

Mike Blackburn, BT’s regional director for the North West, said: “This latest major investment is a tremendous boost for the region. Super-fast broadband will be welcomed by families throughout the area because it will help improve their quality of life and leisure and open new doors through online learning and fast access to information and services. And it’s also going to provide a huge fillip for businesses and the local economy. At a stroke, small and medium sized firms will have access to big business speeds at much lower costs allowing them to find new markets, boost their competitiveness and create new jobs.

“Faster upstream speeds are a boon for flexible and remote working, slashing office overheads and improving employees’ work-life balance. Large graphic and video files can be sent immediately online instead of being physically delivered to customers on hard disk. And high quality voice and video calls will enable businesses to save time travelling to clients without losing direct customer contact.
“We are making rapid progress with super-fast broadband across the UK. More than six million homes and businesses can now access the high-speed technology and last month we announced that two-thirds of UK premises will have access by the end of 2014, a year earlier than planned.

“And we’re not forgetting the final third – largely rural areas which we have always said will require a partnership approach with the public sector to provide access to the new technology. BT has the strength and experience to deliver challenging projects – as we are doing with major faster broadband initiatives in Northern Ireland and Cornwall – and we are determined to be at the forefront of taking the technology to the final third. We’re also testing new technologies to improve speeds where fibre broadband won’t be available because it’s important that as many homes and businesses as possible have access to fast broadband and its benefits.”

Internet users with a fibre broadband connection can do much more online, all at the same time. A family can download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the net and play games online simultaneously. The latest chart hit can be downloaded in around two seconds, a CD in 30 seconds and a feature length HD film in 10 minutes.

Upload speeds are the fastest in the UK, with large video and data files being sent almost instantly and posting hi-resolution photos on Facebook, takes seconds.

Find out more about about Posilan’s fibre broadband services by clicking here

BT Openreach to transform broadband speeds

Openreach today announced three significant developments that will provide a major boost to Broadband Britain. As well as launching its up to 110Mbps Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) service, Openreach revealed it will use this technology to deliver downstream speeds of up to 300Mbps from next Spring. These speeds are three times faster than those offered by other major networks and they will be available on a wholesale basis supporting a competitive retail market.

The business also revealed a third boost for broadband speeds by saying it now has approval from the relevant authorities to roughly double the speeds delivered by Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) broadband. This development will see FTTC downstream speeds roughly double from up to 40Mbps to up to 80Mbps.

These developments will transform the broadband speeds that are available across the UK. BT is investing £2.5 billion to make fibre broadband available to two thirds of UK premises by the end of 2015. More than five million premises already have access and tens of thousands are gaining access every week.

Speaking today, Openreach chief executive Liv Garfield said: “Today is a significant step in the UK’s broadband journey. These developments will transform broadband speeds across the country and propel the UK up the broadband league tables.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “These are significant announcements and good news for the UK. High-speed broadband is essential for economic growth, which is why we want the UK to have the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015.

“Improving the UK’s broadband infrastructure will help our high-tech, digital industries grow. It will ensure the UK is an attractive place to start-up and base the businesses of tomorrow.”

Garfield added: “All our fibre products are fit for the future and these developments show that to be the case. As always, we want to go further and faster and so our journey doesn’t end here. We can turn up the dial should there be demand and so we can look to the future with confidence.

“No-one is keener than us to extend these super-fast speeds to rural areas and so we will be bidding for public funds to help extend these services even further. The challenge is a tough one but by working with the public sector it is within our reach.”

Openreach has this week launched its Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) service on a commercial basis. FTTP is where fibre is deployed all the way from a BT exchange directly into a customer’s premises. It is the most technically advanced broadband as it is the only one that is solely based on optical fibre.

The service, which becomes available in six locations (Ashford in Middlesex, Bradwell Abbey in Milton Keynes, Highams Park in North London, Chester South, St Austell and York) from late October before wider deployment, is open to all Communications Providers (CPs) to use on an equivalent and wholesale basis allowing them to market the service to end users.

It is initially available to CPs in various speed combinations with downstream speeds reaching 110Mbps and upstream speeds reaching 30Mbps. The fastest speed combinations being made available this month are 110/15 and 100/30 but speeds of up to 300Mbps will be available from next Spring. The technology is capable of delivering even more dramatic speeds of up to 1Gbps and these are currently being trialled by BT in Kesgrave, Suffolk.

The launch of FTTP builds on Openreach’s rapid deployment of FTTC broadband. This latter service – where fibre is deployed from the BT exchange to the cabinet and copper is then used for the final connection to the premises – is already available to more than five million homes and businesses. The recent approval from the network frequency authorities means that Openreach now has permission to roughly double the speeds delivered over the service at some stage in 2012.

FTTC is already available to some areas of the UK, take a look here to find out more

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