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Average 8Mbit/s broadband customer gets just 4.6Mbit/s


Our broadband survey reveals just how unlikely theoretical maximum connection speeds really are.

Our survey of UK broadband users has revealed that if you pay for a connection of up to 8Mbit/s, you can actually expect to get around 4.6Mbit/s. That’s a mean average – the most common median point was between 6Mbit/s and 7Mbit/s. Meanwhile, the mean broadband speed of all our respondents, whether they had a 1Mbit/s connection or a 100Mbit/s connection was around 9.3Mbit/s.

Broadband speeds are often contentious, and communications watchdog Ofcom keeps a close eye on how claimed speeds line up with what users actually get. In March, the regulator announced that average broadband speeds are less than half advertised speeds, although it reached this conclusion by taking an average of all advertised speeds and of all actual speeds, rather than restricting them to specific packages. Ofcom found that the average user was getting 6.2Mbit/s.

This kind of variation predominately affects ADSL customers, whose speeds are almost entirely dependent on how far away they are from their local telephone exchange. Cable and FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet, such as BT Infinity) are less prone to speed drop-offs.

Speeds can also be affected by other factors, such as contention – the number of people trying to get online at the same time via a single node – traffic management, where your ISP puts a speed limit on certain kinds of traffic at busy times of day, and throttling, where such limits are applied only to the accounts of users who are consuming more than their fair share of bandwidth.

If you’re on standard ADSL, rather than cable or FTTC, your choice of ISP won’t have much effect on your connection speeds. However, it can have a major impact on your bank balance and on how much data you’re allowed to download every month. Fortunately, we’ll be comparing the UK’s biggest and best broadband providers in issue 283 of Computer Shopper and online here on Expert Reviews.

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