Latest home broadband speed increases to 69 Mb/s, claims Ofcom report


Telecoms regulator Ofcom has published its latest research into the performance of home broadband services in the UK. Its findings are obtained by measuring the performance delivered to customers’ routers, and data provided by the UK’s four largest broadband providers.

Its research shows that average download speeds for home broadband have continued to increase. The average download speed was 69.4 Mbit/s in March 2023, a 17% increase year-on-year, as people have upgraded to higher-bandwidth services, including full-fibre connections.

Download speeds determine the time it takes for information to be delivered to a user’s device. Higher download speeds are important when downloading large files, such as games, films, or apps, or when streaming high-resolution video content.

The proportion of lines receiving a 24-hour average download speed of at least 30 Mbit/s was 88% in March 2023, up from 83% in March 2022. Three per cent of connections had an average 24-hour actual download speed of less than 10 Mbit/s in 2023, down from 4% in 2022. Less than 1% of lines had an advertised download speed under 10 Mbit/s.

Upload speeds rise even more sharply

Meanwhile, there was a large increase in average upload speeds, rising to 18.4 Mbit/s in March 2023. This was a year-on-year increase of 7.8 Mbit/s (73%).

The gap between urban and rural speeds has narrowed

There was a 26% difference between average urban (70.3 Mbit/s) and rural (56.0 Mbit/s) download speeds during the 8pm-10pm peak-time period – down from 58% in 2022.

Cable and full-fibre packages provided the fastest download speeds

The highest average speeds were recorded over cable and full-fibre services. Cable connections had the biggest increase in their average download speed, rising by 71.3 Mbit/s (36%) to 270.6 Mbit/s. The average download speed delivered by full-fibre connections increased by 1.9 Mbit/s (1%) year-on-year to 149.2 Mbit/s.

While people can achieve improved performance through switching technology or their package, there were few differences between comparable services offered by providers that use the same Openreach network.

Network congestion leads to lower download speeds

Average download speeds can slow when broadband networks are busy. This is known as network congestion or contention. Across all connections, the average 8-10pm peak-time download speed (67.7 Mbit/s) was 95% of the 71.0 Mbit/s average maximum speed – this was up from 94% in March 2022.

Similarly, the average daily minimum speed (63.3 Mbit/s) was 89% of the average maximum speed, up from 87% in March 2022. The effect of network congestion during busy periods was lowest for full-fibre lines.

Says Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie: 

“On the surface, Ofcom’s report delivers plenty of good news for UK households wanting a better broadband service.

“Average speeds are going up and the increased rollout of more ultrafast and gigafast packages is giving consumers more upgrade options, meaning more of us can enjoy online services like streaming, without annoying freezes.   

“Broadband affordability remains the elephant in the room, and our research shows that the UK still lags behind other European nations such as France and Germany when it comes to getting bang for our buck.

“The cost-of-living crisis will also be impacting the uptake of the fastest broadband deals, which are typically double the monthly cost of superfast packages. Meanwhile there are still 7% of connections that are clocking at lower speeds that are in danger of being left behind as our digital demands grow.

“In the past 10 years, average contract lengths have risen considerably, with most households typically tied in for an initial term of at least 18 months. More shorter-term and flexible options would help the UK get up to speed quicker and deliver huge productivity benefits to boot.

“The One-Touch-Service, now postponed until next March, is also desperately needed to make it easier for customers to switch between networks once their contract expires. It’s clear that some customers are sitting on slow, overpriced deals because they feel switching is a hassle.”

For more information, see Ofcom’s full report.

And to find out how to get more from your broadband, take a look at Ofcom’s guide.

Chris Price
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