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Upload speeds hinder video calls for 80% of UK - expert

Friday, December 12th 2014 by Hannah Langston

The majority of UK broadband connections deliver slower upload speeds than what is required for a seamless video call.

Around 80% of broadband customers experience upload speeds of less than 2Mbps, according to Ofcom’s 2014 infrastructure report.

Oliver Johnson, from broadband analyst firm Point Topic, said this was not good enough for the increasingly common task of video calling: “If you want to video call in HD then you need a clean 3-4Mbps up, and if more than one person on the same line does this then you’ll have issues."

“Consumers are demanding more bandwidth now, particularly in business," he said.

The Ofcom report found that the average upload speed was 3Mbps, even though 80% of users were not getting that speed. The report also found that broadband users uploaded a combined 7Gb of data each month in 2014 – equivalent to 3,500 digital photographs.

Mr Johnson said the desire for faster upload speeds, “will be something for the ISPs to play with in the next year or two”.

However the Federation of Small Businesses argues that upload speeds should be a current priority.

National chairman John Allan said: “Reliable broadband is a critical business need. It has become the fourth utility, as vital to businesses as electricity, gas or water.

“Service providers need to make sure that small business customers are not just an afterthought. The government needs to show much greater ambition for UK broadband if we are going to tap the growth potential of small firms and be a contender in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

“The clear message from [the] report is that not all small businesses are getting the broadband services they require.”

Mr Allan acknowledged that Ofcom had noted the importance of Ofcom speeds: “Ofcom is right to back our call to highlight the importance of upload speeds, which is of as much importance for business as download speeds and we agree that the Universal Service Commitment should be updated.”

The Ofcom report highlighted the importance of upload speeds: “It is important not to overlook upload speed, which can be crucially important for some services.

“High quality video calling, for example, requires both fast download and fast upload speeds.

Ofcom also said upload speeds would be an “important consideration” for future regulation.

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