Top 10 Fastest Broadband ISPs for April 2004
For the third month in a row, Zen has taken the top position on our 512 Kbps speed test rankings with Eclipse taking back second place from rival Nildram. The top ten itself has not changed significantly with the exception of Supanet which fell out of the table due to lack of sufficient tests by a small margin. It is quite likely they will reappear in the next couple of months.
We use various methods to differentiate users on 512 Kbps broadband and sub-broadband services such as 150Kbps and 256Kbps service that are available, the most obvious one being the form which users are required to complete, as well as multiple automated checks. We recently added a separate option for sub-broadband speeds to encourage users to provide more accurate information, but we also trialled a higher base cap to ensure that results contributing to this table would not be from sub-broadband services. This has meant that the table average rose by 9.1 Kbps although this difference varies from 3.5 Kbps to 15.7 Kbps from provider to provider. As the top three were not significantly affected, it does not affect their rankings but does have a small impact in the order of the remaining seven.
This new methodology has its drawbacks as it makes it possible for an ISP with consistently poor results (i.e. 512 Kbps services producing speed tests at 150 Kbps for example) to not be quite as noticeable in the table, however we felt that overall this was worth running. In total, the top ten lost 944 (4%) results in this change. What this now shows clearly is the performance of the ISPs lower down the list, the figures being optimistic if anything as it's possible bad results could have been discarded in some cases. With the exception of Virgin.Net which fell significantly in real terms (i.e. on the same comparison basis as last month), all the top ten ISPs had higher download speeds this month.
We hope to introduce more features on our speed testing system as well as different types of testing during the course of the year to better track long term trends and identify specific problems. This will be part of a general overhaul of the site.
We have been monitoring the 1 Mbps league tables with a close eye and are pleased with the progress in the number of tests. We are still waiting to get more tests to ensure useful results but initial indications suggest that one of the cable operators is in lead with a DSL provider in second place, although upload speeds are far lower for cable providers which may affect users' preferences.
As always, we would remind users not to choose a provider based on speed test data alone, least of all a single type of test. We would always suggest you use a variety of information sources in selection your ISP including recommendations from friends and colleagues, our forums, etc.
Previous months' results can be found here [seb]