Ofcom have today released a report with some conclusions based on the first month of data collected from its research in October/November last year. This shows the average consumer broadband download speed is 3.6 Mbps, confirming our own regional broadband statistics released in December based on around 36,000 unique test sites.
The speed research by Ofcom are based on a sample of 1,500 broadband lines and also present interesting statistics indicating that the slowest speeds are on Sunday evenings from 5pm to 6pm. In general, speeds begin to fall from 10am and particularly after 3pm before starting to increase during the late evening.
What is particularly interesting is that Ofcom has looked not only at speeds, but user perceptions of speeds and the reasons for speed variations. Of those questioned, 93% were 'satisfied' with their experience of web browsing, whilst only 67% of those who download TV programmes were satisfied, suggesting those who use the Internet more intensively are still demanding better services. Interestingly, between 12-24% of users appear to be 'extremely satisfied' with those more likely to be extremely satisfies being on products higher than '8 meg'.
|Main reason for dissatisfaction with ISP|
|Speed of connection||30%|
|Connection is unreliable||27%|
|Charges generally too expensive||14%|
|Customer service unhelpful||6%|
|Tech support could not help||6%|
|Customer service hard to reach||2%|
|Tech support hard to reach||2%|
When asked about the factors that may impact on their broadband speeds, only 26% understood that the quality of the cable in your home (i.e. telephone extension wiring) could have a high impact on your broadband speeds, with 35% believing this would have a low impact--Obviously this applies to ADSL based broadband services rather than Virgin Media cable broadband, so it's difficult to make firm conclusions, but it is nevertheless clear that users are often confused about the reasons why broadband speeds can vary. We will be tackling some of these problems in the first quarter of 2009. The most common cited reason of 'how near you live to [the telephone] exchange' is of course a critical one for ADSL users and is something users cannot influence without moving.
The regional analysis shows London at the top with an average speed of 3.9 Mbps with Wales and Scotland at the bottom end at 3.3 Mbps; Our own research indicates higher speeds London, although this may be affected by what is defined as 'London'. We also show significant differences in Northern Ireland statistics, although the Ofcom research does highlight the small sample size of less than 100 test locations in Northern Ireland, North East and East Midlands.
Research on speeds is very important to inform the national broadband debate. The report published today however, does not provide any insight into which service providers are performing well so does not serve to assist users in making decisions on what broadband service is right for them. Also, with the sample sizes in question, caution is advised over the regional breakdowns.