Broadband News

Peak and off peak performance at the largest UK broadband providers in December 2017

After a break in December we are back with our usual comparison of peak and off-peak speeds for the largest broadband providers in the UK. December with the long Christmas break has the potential to be a time when usage patterns change due to the rise of streamed TV and people updating all the firmware and software updates for games that they have been bought.

Off-Peak Tests Results December 2017
Off-Peak defined as midnight to 5.59pm
Median Average
Providertbbx1 Test
(1 download)
httpx6 Test
(6 downloads)
% difference
between
tbbx1 and
httpx6 speeds
Upload SpeedQuality
Lower is Better
Grade A = Best
Latency
BT 27.6 Mbps 31.6 Mbps -12.7% 6.1 Mbps 0.4 - Grade A 40ms
EE 12 Mbps 13.7 Mbps -11.8% 1 Mbps 0.8 - Grade B 55ms
Plusnet 19.3 Mbps 25.7 Mbps -25% 4.6 Mbps 0.4 - Grade A 42ms
Sky 14.7 Mbps 17.9 Mbps -17.9% 3.3 Mbps 0.7 - Grade A 52ms
TalkTalk 13 Mbps 15.6 Mbps -16.7% 2.4 Mbps 0.6 - Grade A 53ms
Virgin Media 52.3 Mbps 73 Mbps -28.4% 6.3 Mbps 1.0 - Grade B 39ms

For those who want to know more about the quality metric head over to our broadband speed test FAQ which explains more.

There has been a massive jump in the upload speeds for Plusnet from 1.8 Mbps (2.6 Mbps in November) in October to the current 4.6 Mbps and this is down to what looks like the completion of the work to migrate customers from the old 40/2 wholesale product to the 40/10 FTTC service. EE users may be wondering about the drop from 1.8 Mbps upload to 1 Mbps and this looks to be down to ratio of FTTC and ADSL2+ customers being close to 50/50, crowd based observations and median reporting rather than any systematic slowing down.

Virgin Media is interesting as since May 2017 its single thread result has been climbing from 37.2 Mbps to the current 52.3 Mbps, the importance of the single thread (tbbx1) test is that it reflects the ability of a connection to support a live IPTV stream and from October 2016 onwards this figure had pretty much remained stable. The six downloads which is the metric providers prefer and some recommend testers that use 32 downloads at once to try and mask any contention has also risen from 43.9 Mbps in October 2016 to 73 Mbps in December with a blip in April/May 2017. Some of the rise will be the impact of speed upgrades inspired by 'free' upgrades or customers picking faster packages but we also believe that investment in the core network may also be having an impact, the fact the upload speeds have remained relatively stable points to network upgrades being the largest factor, since the faster Virgin Media options have higher uploads speeds.

Peak Tests Results December 2017
Peak time defined as 6pm to 11:59pm
Median Average
Providertbbx1 Test
(1 download)
httpx6 Test
(6 downloads)
% difference
between tbbx1 and
httpx6 speeds
Upload SpeedQuality
Lower is Better
Grade A = Best
Latency
BT 23.6 Mbps 27.6 Mbps -14.5% 5.5 Mbps 0.5 - Grade A 42ms
EE 10.2 Mbps 12.8 Mbps -20.4%

1.2 Mbps

0.8 - Grade B 60ms
Plusnet 15.8 Mbps 21.5 Mbps -26.5% 3.6 Mbps 0.5 - Grade A 47ms
Sky 12.9 Mbps 16.5 Mbps -21.9% 3.1 Mbps 0.7 - Grade A

54ms

TalkTalk 12.1 Mbps 14.6 Mbps -17.1% 2.3 Mbps 0.7 - Grade A 55ms
Virgin Media 46.4 Mbps 65.1 Mbps -28.7% 5.9 Mbps 1.1 - Grade B

41ms

The signs of improvement for Virgin Media are still present at peak time with the gap between a single download and multiple download shrinking and worryingly for PlusNet their performance is current trends continue could see them performing worse than Virgin Media in this regard once January is over and the data analysed. The quality metric for Virgin Media is still something for concern and there is a pattern emerging for the shape of graphs for Virgin Media customers e.g. this speed test with a quality score of 2.1 is scored so poorly simply because it is taking four seconds for the test to get up to speed, this prolonged curve for the first few seconds is not present on all Virgin Media tests, this test scores an excellent 0.1. Taking a few seconds to reach maximum speed is not an issue if you are downloading a 50GB game or settling in to watch a 2 hour film, but it for activities such as web browsing that may be fetching lots of individual 1 to 2 MB elements it may mean people are not seeing a snappy and fluid web browsing experience.

Last 60 days broadband speeds performance for Virgin Media
Observed Daily Speeds for Virgin Media 17th November to 14th Jan 2018

The detail of the daily speed test results contains no days that were a disaster, though of course areas that had local outages will disagree but other than the usual dip in the number of speed tests as people fell asleep after Christmas dinner on the 25th December the volume of testing has been pretty stable. There is a dip in speeds on the 3rd and 4th of January which is also reflected in the peak time speeds that day too, what is interesting is that since that date there has been what looks like it may be a steady climb in speeds for the fastest users, whether that will be sustained only time will tell, pure speculation but did Virgin Media roll-out a change once back from the New Year break and people are seeing the impact of this?

Comments

What is the percentage difference based on?

  • mikejp
  • 9 months ago

Difference between previous two columns, extra words added to handle that now.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 9 months ago

No data for Vodafone ? Having left a managed
and throttled BT and joined Vodafone I now don’t
experience any of that !

  • Marlon88
  • 9 months ago

No mention of the Virgin Media Hub 3.0 having the infamous Intel Puma 6 chipset, with latency issues that can seriously affect online gaming? Upload & download are important, but latency is probably more important to many online games.

  • MHRDarkman
  • 9 months ago

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