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Ofcom report slams UK broadband speeds

Industry calls for end of 'up to' speeds

By Steve Evans

UK communications watchdog Ofcom has revealed that the vast majority of users are not getting the broadband speeds they are paying for.

The report found that most UK consumers are getting less than half what they are paying for. The average user is paying for 11.5Megabits per second (Mbps) but only receiving 5.2Mbps, 46% of what is advertised. For some services 97% of consumers do not get the advertised speed, according to a report on the BBC.

Since April 2009 the average broadband speed that UK users are getting at home has risen from 4.1Mbps to 5.2Mbps.

Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom said the gap between what people pay for and what they receive is growing. "The gap between the average headline speed and actual speed has increased in this period even though the actual speed has risen," he said.

Virgin Media topped the speed list, delivering 8.6Mbps to 9.0Mbps on advertised speeds of ‘up to’ 10Mbps. Orange and PlusNet were the worst performers, promising speeds up to 8Mbps but delivering only 3.3Mbps to 4.2Mbps.

Industry figures rounded on the results. "If consumers pay for a Ferrari-style internet service, they should not get push bike speeds. Broadband users should get what they pay for," said Robert Hammond, from campaigners Consumer Focus.

Chris Marling, editor of Broadband Genie said that ISPs offering high-speeds should deliver what consumers are paying for. "We have been calling for an end to ‘up to’ speeds for a long time now, as it is clearly a ridiculous concept. An average actual speed of 6.5Mbps on lines supposedly capable of 20Mbps or higher starkly confirms that. The UK’s broadband suppliers had ample time to come to their senses, but once again waited to be regulated against before acting on their own accord."

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Director of Eclipse Internet, Clodagh Murphy, echoed Marling’s comments: "We have long championed the move towards better informing customers about the services they are buying, and being realistic about line speeds is a key part of this."

As a result of the findings, Ofcom has announced is it revamping the code of conduct for ISPs and asking for changes to how broadband is sold. It has asked ISPs to publish a "typical speed range" alongside the advertised ‘up to’ speed.

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