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Study: UK Broadband Speeds 'Far Slower' Than Advertised
Study: UK Broadband Speeds 'Far Slower' Than Advertised
August 9, 2011 | By Mike Rose

August 9, 2011 | By Mike Rose

A new study has found that average broadband speeds in the UK are "far slower" than those advertised by the various broadband providers.

Downloadable content delivery provider Pando Networks -- which delivers games, software and video -- sampled over 400,000 broadband users for the first six months of 2011, and found that the average download speed across the whole of Britain is currently 481KBps.

The study found that the city with the fastest average broadband speed is Brighton with 1,010KBps, while the slowest is Swithland with 169KBps average. In general, the company found that metropolitan areas saw faster speeds than rural towns.

Of the most popular home broadband providers, Be Broadband was found to be the fastest with an average speed of 594KBps, following by Virgin Media, Sky Broadband, Entanet and TalkTalk. British Telecom was found to provide the slowest speeds, at 399KBps average.

Last month, Pando Networks carried out a similar study in the U.S., reporting that it had found wide disparities between download speeds and completion rates for gaming content across various American locales.

The study of 4 million gamers' game and patch downloads in the first half of 2011 unsurprisingly found rural customers slower than their urban counterparts, sometimes averaging download speeds ten times worse than those in the fastest U.S. cities.

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Tiago Raposo
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I find it funny, actually, that this problem happens everywhere. People complain here in Brazil, but it seems it's a problem of marketing, not of infrastructure.

Don't know if it would work, but maybe I would get an internet service of 1mbps, if they said it could reach 10 times that speed depending on the circunstances, instead of selling me 10mbps, saying it could be lower (and actually being lower most of the time).

Jamie Mann
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In other news, water is wet ;)

It's also worth noting that there's some interesting details behind the average-speed numbers.

BE Unlimited is a company which has essentially "bought" the infrastructure in certain areas from BT (long story short: BT used to be a monopoly and over the last few years, companies have been able to buy infrastructure off them via a process known as Local Loop Unbundling, or LLU). It's therefore not too surprising that they're fastest, as their services are focused on specific exchanges in high-population-density areas.

Virgin owns the dominant cable network and most customers therefore get their broadband access via this, rather than ADSL.

Sky is a satellite-TV company, who also offer broadband services - as with BE, they've bought LLU access from BT and the service is geographically limited to high-population areas.

And then there's BT, the incumbent (and ex-publically owned) company which is under a Universal Service Obligation to offer phone services to every home in the UK (excepting Hull, where telecomm services are provided by Kingston). So it's not too surprising that their average speeds are lower, as they're supporting a significant number of customers who live far away enough from the exchange for their bandwidth rates to be affected...

Ben Rice
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Thank you for this Jamie. Your reply was at least as insightful as the article.