However ISPs will need to say 'up to' 14Mb/s instead of 20 or 24Mb/s like they do now.

UK broadband speeds on the rise

Telco watchdog Ofcom has reported that average broadband speeds across Britain are on the rise but new guidelines will mean ASDL+ packages can only be advertised ‘up to’ 14Mb/s instead of the oft-claimed 24Mb/s.

The average broadband speed increased from 6.2Mb/s to 7.6Mb/s over the last year, according to data provided by ISPs to the regulator.

The movement of customers from ADSL+ to faster connections such as cable and fibre-based services has had the curious effect of lowering the average ADSL+ speed. Those people in areas that are close enough to exchanges for the higher ADSL+ speeds are also those that tend to be in the footprint of super-fast broadband.

New advertising regulations to come into effect next in April will also mean that ISPs can only advertise a headline speed (the mythical ‘up to’ number) that is actually attainable by 10 per cent of customers. Ofcom figures show that figure to be 14Mb/s, a long way short of the theoretical max of 24Mb/s – presumably obtained by squatters in the loft of the exchange.

The stampede of higher end customers from ADSL+ has, ironically, reduced the figure that ISPs will be able to use for their ‘up to’ number. It’s likely the largest ISPs will not be crying into their beers just yet given the move towards super fast fibre and cable services which, Ofcom data showed, had much less problems hitting the headline speeds.

BT Openreach’s fibre-to-the-cabinet service, described as an ‘up to’ 40Mb/s service, did in fact connect people at an average of 38Mb/s. Cable provider Virgin delivers slightly over the headline speeds of 50 and 30Mb/s to over 10 per cent of their customers so again they’ll be in the clear.

Interestingly, Ofcom said that many households connecting at speeds sub 10Mb/s could gain a substantial speed boost at little to no cost by simply shopping around various deals. The regulator said that 42 per cent could do better for themselves.

Ofcom also published a list of average download speeds on some of Britain’s largest ISPs including services based on first-generation ADSL, ADSL2 and the super-fast cable and fibre services.

Top of the pile was Virgin with average speeds of 47.4 to 48.8Mb/s on the 50Mbps service, followed by BT on the telco’s 40Mb/s with speeds of 35.4 to 36.7Mb/s. In the ADSL2+ category, O2/Be seemed came tops, making 8.8 to 10.87Mb/s while Sky and Orange were at the bottom end of the scale with speeds from six to eight Mb/s.

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