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April 15, 2014

One in four UK homes now has ‘superfast’ broadband

Virgin Media leads the way when it comes to speedy networks.

By Vinod

A quarter of all fixed broadband connections in the UK now provide ‘superfast’ speeds, a new report from Ofcom has found.

Examining data from the UK’s seven biggest network providers, the telecoms watchdog revealed that the average actual network speed across the country is now an impressive 17.8MB/s, but added that more work still needs to be done to improve Internet access in rural areas.

The results, taken from 735 million speed tests in 2,391 homes in November 2013, show that the average network speed is now almost five times faster than it was when Ofcom first began publishing the data five years ago.

The proportion of superfast connections (those from providers offering headline speeds of 30MB/s or more) has risen from 5% in November 2011 to 25% in November 2013, Ofcom found, adding that the average superfast connection speed has now reached 47.0MB/s, an increase of 47% since May 2010.

"The growth in superfast broadband and the rise in average speeds is testament to the investment in the sector," Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said. "But the benefits are not shared evenly across the UK."

"There is more work needed to deliver wider availability of broadband and superfast broadband, particularly in rural communities but also in some locations within cities to enable wider access to fast internet."

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Ofcom’s report found major disparities between urban and rural areas, highlighting the continued difficulty of connecting up remote locations.

It found that the average download speed in urban areas was 31.9MB/s, but that average download speeds in rural areas was only 11.3MB/s, although this was an increase from the 9.9MB/s speed recorded six months ago.

The watchdog noted, however, that the sizes of the rural samples from which these averages were taken were not large enough for the change to be deemed ‘statistically significant’.

Virgin Media led the way when it comes to superfast network provision, with its ‘up to 120 MB/s’ service achieving an average speed of 114.9MB/s over a 24 hour period. This was followed by an ‘up to’ 76 MB/s fibre packages from BT, which offered an 62.4MB/s average download speed.

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