UK's broadband speed divide widens

Michael Carroll
28 Jul 2011
Daily News

UK regulator Ofcom claims ISP’s are still failing to live up to advertised maximum download rates, on the day changes to an operator’s code of practice come into effect.

The regulator’s regular survey of the market found that the gap between advertised speeds and actual download rates has increased in the five months to end-May, despite its efforts to force ISPs to display typical speed ranges (TSRs) alongside maximum rates.

Ofcom’s research found the average advertised speed in May was 15 Mbps, some 8.2Mbps higher than the typical actual speed. The figures compare to its previous study in November and December, where the advertised speed was 7.6Mbps higher than the average actual speed.

While superfast broadband connectivity options in the country are growing, Ofcom states 75% of UK users still rely on ADSL, which is delivering data rates far below advertised speeds. Services offering rates up to 20Mbps and 24Mbps typically only deliver rates of 6.6Mbps, with 37% of subscribers not even achieving that figure with average speeds of 4.4Mbps or less.

To address the issue, Ofcom is today introducing changes to the ISP code of practice designed to give consumers a clearer picture of the data rates they are likely to achieve. ISPs will now be required to reveal TSRs based on customers with a similar line length, and consumers will be given the option to quit annual contracts within three months if ISPs are unable to provide data rates at the lower-end of the estimated range.

Ofcom chief Ed Richards said the UK’s CAP and BCAP committees, which inform the country’s Advertising Standards Authority, must do more to force ISPs to change the way they advertise data rates “so that consumers are able to make more informed decisions.”

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