Britain’s average consumer broadband speed is slowly accelerating, says Ofcom

But – and are we surprised? – less than a quarter of rural connections were over 30Mbit/s – over half came crawling in at under 10Mbit/s

Posted 10 May 2018 at 8:48am by

In 2013, the average British broadband user saw average download speeds of 17.8 Mbit/s.

In 2017, that number had jumped to 46.2 – while the majority, or 58%, of all of us now live in properties with fixed superfast Internet connections, as average upload speeds has also increased, albeit far less impressively, from 4.3Mbit/s to 6.2Mbit/s.

These are the main headlines out of a new study published yesterday by the country’s communications regulator Ofcom on the state of the country’s connectivity health – which has major relevance for all public sector digital policy making, of course.

The study contains data and analysis regarding the performance of UK fixed-line broadband services delivered to residential consumers in November 2017, providing information on the average performance of ADSL, cable and fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband packages, with results presented at a national level, as well as separately for a number of the UK’s most popular ISP packages.

Ofcom does make clear it’s not all great news, of course – especially for rural broadband users – and it has to be noted that the biggest use of on-demand is for movies on services like Netflix:

“Many consumers continue to receive a poor fixed broadband user experience, due to the technological limitations of the copper networks used to provide most fixed broadband services. This is particularly true for consumers in rural areas, where there is lower availability (and take-up) of superfast broadband than in urban areas,” it cautions.

Specifically, the proportion of lines receiving an average download speed of more than 30Mbit/s at peak times was “significantly lower for connections in rural areas of the UK”, it says, 23% compared to urban area average of 59%.

And while 17% of urban connections had an average peak-time speed of under 10Mbit/s, the proportion was much higher in rural areas, at 53% – while there is also a clear difference not just between the regions but the nations, with average actual download speeds ranging from 33.4Mbit/s in Wales to 47.8Mbit/s in England, 39.2Mbit/s in Northern Ireland, while in Scotland it was 43.6Mbit/s.

But the fact that monthly data use per residential fixed broadband connection increased to 190 Gb in the year to June 2017 must still mark some kind of major milestone for ‘Digital Britain’.

Ofcom is the communications regulator in the UK, regulating the TV, radio and video-on-demand sectors, fixed-line telecoms (phones), mobiles and postal services, plus the airwaves over which wireless devices operate.