Ofcom has published its latest set of speed data, which indicates the average speed has risen from 9.1 Mbps a few months ago to 12.7 Mbps now. The rise is largely attributed to the inclusion of superfast broadband speeds for the first time. Given that Virgin Media launched its 50 Mbps superfast service in December 2008 this is very much overdue.
Important: This batch of Ofcom data is based on connection speed data provided by the network operators, rather than the throughput testing that Ofcom does in conjunction with SamKnows.
The rise in the UK average speed was buried away as a footnote to the mobile capacity crunch release, and is actually part of a larger report that sees a major update to the UK digital landscape maps Ofcom launched in July 2011. We have updated the table of authorities that we published in November 2011 below, so that people can see how much or not the picture is changing around the UK.
|Authority||Average Sync Speed (Mbps)||% not receiving 2 Mbps||Superfast availability||Take-up including Superfast||Superfast take-up|
|City of Wolverhampton||19.2||4.8%||93.2%||64.4%||12.1%|
|City of Southampton||12.5||6.2%||90.4%||75.4%||7.4%|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||13.5||14%||83.1%||78.4%||11.8%|
|Castell-nedd Port Talbot||11.5||12.5%||57.8%||66.8%||6.3%|
|East Sussex County||8.4||11.7%||53.7%||71.9%||0.5%|
|Caerffili - Caerphilly||8.5||18.8%||42.3%||70.7%||2.8%|
|Sir Fynwy - Monmouthshire||8.5||13.9%||42.1%||67.5%||1.5%|
|Perth and Kinross||10.5||12.2%||34.9%||59.2%||3.8%|
|County of Herefordshire||6.4||21.5%||0.5%||61.9%||0%|
The average speeds have increased even in areas like Blaenau Gwent where superfast services are still to arrive, mainly because of the continued roll-out of ADSL2+ services by BT Wholesale, TalkTalk and Sky. The variation in take-up of superfast services shows an interesting story, we suspect that the areas with good take-up are those where Virgin Media and the Openreach FTTC services have been available for sometime, this is illustrated by East Sussex that has gone from 3% availability to 53.7%, but only has a 0.5% take-up of these faster services.
Hopefully Ofcom will continue to produce the same metrics each year, as there are many who believe that take-up of superfast services will actually be higher in the more rural areas of the UK and by following the more rural authorities they can test their theory. At present it is not clear if this is the case or other factors like knowledge of availability and the influence of price of upgrading are the major factors.
The observant will have spotted that two areas have gone from 100% availability of superfast services to 98.5% and 97.9%, we suspect this does not reflect a change on the ground, but better data collection by Ofcom.
While the Ofcom data cannot be directly compared to the data from Akamai, if we add a proportional increase in speeds to the most recent Akamai data, we get a UK average speed of 7.7 Mbps, which would move us to 7th place globally, ahead of the other major European countries, thus fulfilling the grandiose statement from Jeremy Hunt earlier in 2012.
Update 21st November 2012: Ofcom published a very large spreadsheet of postcodes with associated speed data and whether superfast broadband was available. This is now available on an individual postcode search basis here. The information is only from summer 2012, so is not a totally up to date picture.