There has been a marked improvement in home broadband, according to an annual survey by the UK’s communications watchdog Ofcom.
It said that average fixed-line download speeds rose by 28% over the year to 46.2 megabits per second, while uploads gained by 44% to 6.2 Mbps.
It added that the typical household now consumed 190 gigabytes of data a month, in large part due to the use of Netflix and other streamed TV services.
But rural consumers still lag behind.
- in urban areas, 59% of connections delivered average speeds topping 30 Mbps over the 20:00-22:00 peak-time period – meeting the watchdog’s definition of “superfast” – while 17% were under 10 Mbps.
- but in rural areas, only 23% of connections surpassed 30 Mbps over the same hours, while 53% were under 10 Mbps.
The regulator said the primary reasons for the discrepancy were less availability and reduced take-up of cable and fibre services in the countryside.
Later this month, internet service providers will be obliged to quote average peak-time speeds in their adverts and other promotional materials, rather than the “up to” figures that have been more common.
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The report’s numbers were generated by installing speed-testing boxes at about 4,700 volunteers’ properties in November.
Ofcom has also broken down its results by nation, revealing that England had the fastest speeds while Wales had the slowest:
|Nation||Average download speed|
|Northern Ireland||39.2 Mbps|
The watchdog highlighted that many households could improve their speeds at no extra cost by asking to be switched to fibre where it was available.
It noted that 93% of UK properties now had access to superfast services but said that about 40% still subscribed to a copper-based “standard” ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) package.
The report also highlighted that Virgin Media – the UK’s biggest cable provider – had made improvements, particularly over the peak evening period.
Virgin’s “up to 200 Mbps” package was singled out for delivering the fastest measured download speeds, averaging 193.6 Mbps over a 24-hour period.
But Ofcom noted that the firm had launched an even faster 300 Mbps deal in 2017. However, too few of its volunteers had subscribed to generate a report.