Speedtest round-up on UK broadband providers
Wednesday 21 February 2007 10:55:54 by
Visitors to thinkbroadband.com 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.
Speeds shown in Kilo bits per second (Kbps), 1Mbps (Mega bits per second) = 1024 Kbps
|Virgin Media (cable)
||Virgin Media (non-cable)
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.