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Speedtest round-up on UK broadband providers
Wednesday 21 February 2007 10:55:54 by Andrew Ferguson

Visitors to have used our speed test tool in massive numbers, and in the course of the last four months many hundreds of thousands of speed tests have taken place, giving us an almost unique insight into the differences in speed between service providers. Averaging out the speeds for the 365,000 samples recorded between 6pm and 10pm we arrive at an average download speed of 2079 Kbps (2.03 Mbps).

The speed tests below show the average for tests carried out between 6pm and 10pm for each service provider where over 500 tests were carried out in this peak period. Tests are from a four month period covering the start of October 2006 through to the end of January 2007 and the results are shown in alphabetical order.

IMPORTANT NOTE: These results are an indication of the relative markets of the broadband service providers in question and do not reflect performance of specific services you may subscribe to. As such, a broadband provider with more customers on low speed services will have a lower average than those offering more high speed services, irrespective of the quality of service, or speed-to-price ratio. As such, this is NOT A LEAGUE TABLE of broadband providers and should not be referenced as such.


Download speed


Download speed

AOL UK 1,687 Kbps Be 7,576 Kbps
Biscit 1,484 Kbps BT Total 2,065 Kbps
Bulldog 3,148 Kbps Demon 1,716 Kbps
Eclipse 1,583 Kbps Entanet 2,157 Kbps
Freedom2Surf 2,111 Kbps Griffin 2,392 Kbps
Homechoice 2,609 Kbps IDnet 2,515 Kbps
Karoo 1,854 Kbps Madasafish 2,320 Kbps
Metronet 1,480 Kbps Mistral 1,242 Kbps
Namesco 1,723 Kbps NewNet 2,205 Kbps
Nildram 2,532 Kbps Orange 1,072 Kbps
Pipex 1,136 Kbps Plusnet 2,017 Kbps
Prodigy 1,644 Kbps Sky 3,340 Kbps
Supanet 1,866 Kbps Talk Talk 1,225 Kbps
Tiscali 1,470 Kbps UK Online 3,106 Kbps
Virgin Media (cable) 2,978 Kbps Virgin Media (non-cable) 858Kbps
Zen Internet 2,564 Kbps    
Speeds shown in Kilo bits per second (Kbps), 1Mbps (Mega bits per second) = 1024 Kbps

Comparing providers directly on speed of service is not always easy as they all have slightly different product ranges compared to five years ago when almost all consumers just had a 500 Kbps connection. The graphs linked below display all the speed test results for those providers, rather than just the peak time.

A few things to note:

  • Be Unlimited with the highest average by some margin is helped by two large factors; It has only ever sold an ADSL2+ ('up to 24 Mbps' line speed) service and does not install its service on very long lines. The highest individual speeds are around 21 Mbps. The speed profile for Be customers shows the maximum speed we have recorded, with a gradual drop off reflecting customer with longer lines.
  • Bulldog has been providing unbundled services for a few years now, and now sells a combination of ADSL2+ and ADSL services. The speed profile shows some users getting very close to the 16 Mbps products top speed at 15.5 Mbps, but the majority of users appear to be on an 'up to 8 Mbps' product, with a number of legacy 1 and 2 Mbps customers.
  • The speed profile from Madasafish appears to show a very stepped profile below about 3.5 Mbps. This is probably a reflection of the extent its customers are now on a Max ('up to 8 Mbps') product and the effects of the 16 IP Profile steps.
  • Metronet while part of Plusnet which itself is now part of BT seems to score low, from the speed profile graph it would appear that this is influenced heavily by the large number of 1 Mbps customers.
  • Sky Broadband features well even though it is a new entrant, with its fastest users getting around 13 Mbps with the speed profile showing a gradual curve with a point of inflection around 7 Mbps which possibly represents users with an ADSL2+ service but capped to 8 Mbps line speeds.
  • Talk Talk which started promoting 'up to 8 Mbps' services heavily in April 2006 does not appear to have fully embraced rate adaptive 'up to 8 Mbps' products as yet. Around 10% of the speed tests managed can be clearly seen to be from an 'up to 8 Mbps' service, but large numbers of customers still appear to be on a fixed speed 2 Mbps, 1 Mbps or 500 Kbps services.
  • Virgin Media is a tale of two cities, those in cabled areas getting vastly superior speeds to those in non-cabled areas. In fact looking at the non-cabled area as a scatter plot which is reproduced below, shows the clear distinction between a mass of users with a 0.5 Mbps or 1 Mbps service, fewer on 2 Mbps services and then the rest with a rate adaptive service running at over 2 Mbps.

    Virgin Media Graph (click to enlarge)

As broadband providers continue to migrate customers across to 'up to 8 Mbps' and 24 Mbps products we should see an increase in the average speeds. It will also be interesting to see how the peak-time speeds have increased in the next six months or whether new services like IPTV will make networks busier and swallow up any new capacity.

It should be pointed out that individual factors such as the length of the telephone line and state of extension wiring in a property will govern the maximum speeds an individual will see, particularly for those connected using an 'up to' rate adaptive product.


Posted by pr100 over 10 years ago
Good information thank you. I would like to see these stats published monthly if possible.
Posted by rayhalligan over 10 years ago
This is excellent information. I would also like to see it broken down by speed achieved within connection speed by supplier. I do realise, of course, that there are many things that will impact the achieved speed including the person's internal extension wiring etc.
Posted by Chrisandrea over 10 years ago
WOuld be great if we could see actual min/max/average speeds achieved in preceding 12 and 3 month period.
Posted by rsharma over 10 years ago
An extremely interesting report. Must have taken hours and hours to compile, well done.

It is worth noting that those ISPs using traffic shaping might be providing higher speed results than actual and real life experiences for people. They can even prioritise web based speed test sites like these therefore people should bear that in mind when comparing those ISPs. We all know that 7Mb speeds is not much different to 2Mb for browsing and hence it is the overall speeds one uses the internet for much also be measured for an accurate picture.
Posted by apisto over 10 years ago
Superb :)

With my maximum speed test topping the board at a whopping lunacy speed of

Download Speed: 22607 kbps (2825.9 KB/sec transfer rate)
Upload Speed: 1090 kbps (136.3 KB/sec transfer rate)

I can only concur with the reason why Be are top of the list :)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 10 years ago
On the priority, while it is possible an ISP may prioritise HTTP traffic, our test is not across TCP port 80, in fact it uses TCP port 8095.

Maybe a future revision could allow people to choose the port used and thus make it easier to judge if high/low speeds are down to traffic management.
Posted by chrysalis over 10 years ago
I would like to see 2 changes andrew one which I already mentioned.

1 - the user enters the synch speed or bras profile (if known) and as such we then see a % comparable to the max speed of the line.
2 - as you said vary the tcp port perhaps randomising it rather then letting the user choose, isps who shape will still probably prioritise the speedtest ip but it may help.
Posted by rsharma over 10 years ago
In relation to providing the ability to chose ports: I'm not sure how effective it would be with things like Ellacoya being used by the various ISPs. As I understand it these systems determine the priority on the first handshake the traffic makes hence it can't/might not be defeated.

Could it perhaps help having different types of files (usenet/ftp/P2P) available that people could download after the test to see the effects?

PS: I wish to apologise for the extremely tardy English in my previous post. I have had to triple proof read this one for errors.
Posted by meldrew over 10 years ago
Most informative! Do the ISPs take note of this however? Pipex third slowest - I rest my case m'lud...
Posted by kitkatnodogs over 10 years ago
Yesterday I went up from 4Mb to 10Mb with Virgin Media. My download speed is now between 8.5Mb and now 9Mb. As I am between 8-10 miles from their centre all I can say is well done Virgin Media.
Posted by s7uar7 over 10 years ago
I'd be interested to know whether anyone on an 'up to 8Mbps' connection actually gets close to 8Mbps. I'm about 300m from the exchange, sync at 8Mbps but only ever see top speeds of 6.5Mbps.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 10 years ago
The speed profile graphs show people getting close to 7Mbps.

Since the 8Mbps of advertising is the line connection speed (some adverts actually say line speed), you have to allow for 10-14% for protocol overheads, which takes you down to around 7 to 7.15Mbps as the absolute maximum.
Posted by elmonxo over 10 years ago
I wonder how Andrew got a speed of 1,225 Kbps for Talk Talk, I would be very please If that was the case. My experience is that Talk Talk download speed more often than not is below their upload speed. Day after day after day....
Posted by kenneth_lad over 10 years ago
Pipex almost rock bottom. More proof that they are a shambles.
Posted by stefanlewicki over 10 years ago
I'm on up to 8mbps connection from Virgin & I've never got as high as 3Mbps. Speeds are often below 1Mbps. Anyone recommend an ISP that actually delivers? Or is Virgin cable any better?
Posted by windows700 over 10 years ago
I am with Pipex and it is a shambles. Customer service is poor and since finally joining them in Dec 2006 had speeds from 4.p.m onwards until about 10.p.m my connection speed is around 300 kbps! I am suppose to be receiving up to 8 mbps! Will they help? No! I am reporting them to Ofgem. Had enough.
Posted by pandaemonium over 10 years ago
TalkTalk is just that...all talk talk.
Posted by aniolkowski over 10 years ago
I'm on an up to 8mbps connection from Virgin and whereas before Dec 2006 I used to get up to 4.5 Mbps fairly consistently I now find that I am lucky to get up to 2 Mbps early morning with it tailing off to 150kbps by late afternoon. Anyone know if anything can be done about this apart from switch provider - on contract till September!
Posted by peterandrew over 10 years ago
I am with talktalk and meant to get fastest that the line can cope with, which according to BT is at least 6.5Mbps and should be close to 8Mbps. I only get 500Kbps which according to talktalk is fine because the exchange is not LLU! I am stuck with them for 18 months because 500Kbps is up to 8Mbps!! and so cannot cancel.
Posted by Johnti over 10 years ago
I'm with Orange supposedly on 8Mbps unlimited! Recently they said my broadband speed had been upgraded, yet I can only get max 4.5 Mbps early morning, more importantly this can tail off to a pathetic 0.25 Mbps by mid evening. Anyone else experiencing similar with Orange?

Posted by kamelion over 10 years ago
Highest speeds on BEUnlimited are 24 Mbit not 21
Posted by donwood over 10 years ago
As of April 1st TalkTalk have advised me my broadband speed has been upgraded. I now see 5 Mbps showing, but on your test site in reality it runs just over 2.1Mbps This is enough for my useage at present and at least they seem to be trying. I do not have the shortest in house cable run which does not help. By the way April 1st is not a joke, that is when I received the talktalk advise

Posted by gablody over 9 years ago
Finally, Talk Talk have appeared to come up trumps with increasing my download speed to 6699 Kbps from an average 3.6 Mbps. Only takes asking them apparently!
ps is it as easy to increase UPLOAD speed please (getting greedy now!) :)
Posted by CaptainW over 9 years ago
I'm on Sky's MAX Package, up to 16meg and get anything between 10-12.6meg regularly
Great service for £10 a month
Posted by biclic over 9 years ago
I can not believe how these crooked companies get away with daylight robbery. I am with orange and pay for 8Mbps.never had it ove 1.5 and most of the time is 0.1
nobody is in control!!1
Posted by jedsusan over 9 years ago
hi there iam on aol uk 8mbps boardband and done speed test everytime the fasters ive been is 1.5 and 0.1 thanks
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