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UK average broadband connection speed increases to 12.7 Mbps
Tuesday 20 November 2012 13:36:26 by Andrew Ferguson

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
Newtownabbey 14.5 12.7% 98.5% 75.2% 13.3%
Luton 15.2 10.6% 97.9% 75.5% 15%
Carrickfergus 13.2 18.2% 96.9% 74.7% 12.2%
City of Wolverhampton 19.2 4.8% 93.2% 64.4% 12.1%
Omagh 11.3 27.4% 92.1% 55.4% 7.2%
City of Southampton 12.5 6.2% 90.4% 75.4% 7.4%
Dundee City 20.4 5.3% 90.2% 68.3% 13.6%
West Dunbartonshire 19 4.6% 88.8% 67.2% 13.3%
Salford District 16.9 5.6% 85% 65.9% 9.5%
Windsor and Maidenhead 13.5 14% 83.1% 78.4% 11.8%
Milton Keynes 10.8 19.8% 70.8% 83.1% 8.1%
Essex County 11.5 12.5% 68.7% 76.1% 6.7%
Leicestershire County 12.4 10.8% 67.9% 73.2% 7.9%
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%
Cornwall 10.3 13.5% 48.5% 64.5% 2.9%
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%
East Lothian 10.6 8% 20.4% 72.3% 1.1%
County of Herefordshire 6.4 21.5% 0.5% 61.9% 0%
Blaenau Gwent 9.4 10.8% 0% 60.9% 0%
Sample of authorities around the UK, ordered by availability of superfast services

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.


Posted by welshwarrior over 4 years ago
Surprise Surprise Pembrokeshire is one of the only places with 0% Superfast Broadband availability!!
Posted by wolfhound over 4 years ago
wow! Nice to see Newtownabbey top of something!!
Posted by michaels_perry over 4 years ago
Once again the 'headline' speed is biased towards the availability of a fast connection. I wish they would quote figures for ADSL, ADSL2+ and fibre/cable separately.
To Welshwarrior, most of Wiltshire doesn't have any fibre either! So we are also 0% Superfat Broadband. The same applies to most areas outside of towns and cities.
The spreadsheet lookup is interesting but needs to be kept more up-to-date as things can change in short timescales and with the EU approval for BDUK roll out that will increase too.
Posted by bsg017 over 4 years ago
I do not know what made the difference technically, but changing from o2(non Lulu) to BT for my broadband provider with new router (ie Homehub 3 now), new microfilters and several new cables has raised my 'Thinkbroadband download speed' from just under 7 to just over 14 Mbs which is a significant improvement in the last fortnight.
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