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Increase in fibre uptake leads to rise in UK average broadband speed

Wednesday, May 9th 2018 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A rise in the number of people upgrading to fibre has seen the UK’s average broadband speed jump to 46.2Mbps according to a new Ofcom report, an increase of 28% on the previous 12 months.

More than half (58%) of people with home broadband connections are now on so-called superfast services, defined by Ofcom as delivering download speeds of 30Mbps or more.

And more households could easily be receiving better speeds, the Home Broadband Performance report says. Superfast broadband is available to 93% of UK premises so the majority of those on standard ADSL services could upgrade to fibre if they wanted to – and not necessarily for any extra cost.

Ofcom said networks appear to be coping better at peak times, with average speeds during the 8pm to 10pm peak period reaching 92% of the average maximum, compared to 86% the year before.

Rural areas still behind

The number of lines providing superfast speeds also increased from 41% to 54%, but there is still a significant gap between urban and rural areas – 59% received peak-time superfast speeds in towns and cities compared to just 23% in the countryside.

The CLA has said the introduction of a Universal Service Obligation (USO) could transform rural areas but with the minimum speed that needs to reach every UK household by 2020 set at just 10Mbps, it still wouldn’t change the number of rural folk getting superfast speeds.

However, Ofcom is obliged to review the USO’s minimum speed when superfast take-up reaches 75% and with more people signing up each year that review may not be so very far away.

Ofcom’s Home Broadband Performance report is based on a study of more than 4,000 volunteers around the UK who have monitoring units connected to their routers and reflects the actual broadband speeds they received in November 2017.

The regulator also analysed data from more than 5,000 mobile users who had downloaded a research app between September and December last year for its Consumer Mobile Experience report.

It found, unsurprisingly, that people rate using their smartphone to get online as more important than making calls.

Ofcom also discovered that 75% of data connections are made using wi-fi as opposed to a 4G or 3G network – and that those on the EE and Three networks spent significantly less time connected to wi-fi than those on O2 or Vodafone.

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