Broadband News

Peak time speeds for UK broadband providers in April 2018

The new rules around speeds in broadband advertising are due to be active on 23rd May and while a few providers have started to use their figures there are some where speeds are now strangely absent from their pages i.e. they will rely on descriptive language rather than quote any advertised speed and therefore rely on the personalised estimate which will always trump any advert.

There is some confusion over what speeds should be used in adverts and all the talk around the change in the ASA rules was that the speed advertised should be the speed that 50% or more are able to obtain, which translates into the median value. The median speed is generally a better measure but even then it can hide massive ranges of speed, hence why we usually include information that helps to show the spread of speeds e.g. bottom 10%, 20% or 25%. We are adding the mean speed to our table so people can see what sort of difference it makes, though in a number of cases it is very similar to the median.

In April we published our analysis from Q1 2018, but the intention going forward is to publish monthly results which may feature less providers due to sample size restrictions and then as each new quarter starts we will publish a larger quarterly round-up. If providers are missing and they are keen to get an idea of their figures we also do have an annual set of analysis, which may have enough samples to allow sharing.

Broadband Speeds for a number of UK Internet Service Providers during the 8pm to 10pm period during April 2018
Ordered Alphabetically
All speeds are in Mbps - Mega bits per second
ProviderQualityDirectionSpeed of bottom 10%MedianMeanSpeed of Top 10%
BT ADSL/ADSL2+A (0.7)Down 0.8 4.8 6.3 15.2
    Up 0.2 0.5 0.6 0.9
BT Infinity 1 up to 52 Mbps FTTCA (0.4)Down 11.1 27.5 27.6 45.7
    Up 2.3 5.3 5.5 8.7
BT Infinity 1 up to 52 Mbps FTTPA (0.5)Down 5.1 37.4 32.9 50.9
Up 3 8.8 7.5 10.4
BT Infinity 2 up to 76 Mbps FTTCA (0.3)Down 35.7 55.5 54.3 71.4
    Up 10.3 16.3 15.3 18.6
BT Infinity 2 up to 76 Mbps FTTPA (0.4)Down 29 56.7 55.1 71.8
Up 10.1 19.6 16.9 21.2
EE ADSL/ADSL2+A (0.6)Down 0.6 6.2 6.7 14.2
    Up 0.3 0.7 0.6 0.9
EE Fibre up to 38 Mbps FTTCC (1.5)Down 7.9 22.7 22.4 35.5
    Up 2.2 4.7 5 8.4
EE Fibre up to 76 Mbps FTTCE (2.7)Down 28.3 42.6 45.5 64.7
Up 7.2 15.5 14.3 18.3
Plusnet ADSL/ADSL2+A (0.5)Down 0.6 5.6 6.8 14.8
    Up 0.3 0.6 0.6 0.9
Plusnet Fibre up to 38 Mbps FTTCA (0.6)Down 10 25.6 24.7 36.5
    Up 2.3 5.5 5.4 8.3
Plusnet Fibre Extra up to 76 Mbps FTTCA (0.3)Down 30 46.9 48.7 68.5
    Up 7.9 12.5 12.9 18.3
Post Office ADSL/ADSL2+B (1.0)Down 0.9 4.4 5.7 13.4
    Up 0.3 0.6 0.5 0.7
Sky ADSL2+A (0.7)Down 1.1 5 6.4 14.4
    Up 0.3 0.6 0.6 1.0
Sky Fibre up to 38 Mbps FTTCA (0.6)Down 10 23.5 22.9 35.1
    Up 2.5 5.9 5.7 8.4
Sky Fibre Pro up to 76 Mbps FTTCA (0.5)Down 30 46.5 47.6 68.3
    Up 8 12.7 13.3 18.3
TalkTalk ADSL2+A (0.5)Down 0.7 5.4 6.3 13.4
    Up 0.2 0.6 0.5 0.8
TalkTalk Fibre up to 38 Mbps FTTCA (0.6)Down 9 22.8 23 36.5
    Up 2.2 5.5 5.4 8.5
TalkTalk Fibre up to 76 Mbps FTTCA (0.3)Down 28.1 45.2 47.4 69.9
Up 8.9 14.9 13.6 18.5
Virgin Media up to 50 Mbps CableB (0.9)Down 1.8 20 23.2 52.2
    Up 0.5 2.3 2 3
Virgin Media up to 100 Mbps CableB (0.8)Down 18.8 48.3 53.6 99.3
    Up 4.0 5.7 6.3 10.7
Virgin Media up to 200 Mbps CableB (0.8)Down 51.5 121.3 121.8 192
    Up 9.7 12.2 13.3 19.1
Virgin Media up to 350 Mbps CableA(0.5)Down 69.5 156.9 162.3 249.1
Up 11.7 21.2 20.1 22
Vodafone ADSL2+A (0.7)Down 0.5 3.8 5.9 13
    Up 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.7
Vodafone up to 38 Mbps FTTCA (0.7)Down 6.3 24 23 36.1
    Up 2.8 5.6 5.6 8.2
Vodafone up to 76 Mbps FTTCA (0.2)Down 27.4 48.2 48.6 66.4
Up 9.6 15.8 14.2 17.8

The publication of the recent Ofcom analysis also included some information on the products tested for each provider and highlighted that some providers such as Virgin Media has a large range of legacy products, so in addition to the advertised 50, 100, 200 and 350 Mbps tiers there are still significant numbers on a 120/12, 150/10, 10 and 12 Mbps variants of the 200 Mbps service, 60/6 and 70/5 services. Since we don't have the ability to absolutely confirm the service someone is on the result is that our analysis of the Virgin Media up to 100 Mbps service will include the 60 and 70 Mbps download customers too, which explains a lot of the difference. For the majority of broadband providers this is not a problem but it appears with Virgin Media a lot of people are refusing speed upgrade offers so we end up with a wide spread of products.

We have been tracking daily speed test results for the largest UK broadband providers for some time, so given the situation over legacy products for Virgin Media we thought it worth sharing a plot of the 10 to 90% download speed range along with median download and upload speeds for the full period we are holding which is 1st August 2017 through to 13th May 2018.

Peak time speeds for Virgin Media from August 2017 to May 2018
Speeds seen from Virgin Media broadband speed tests between 8pm and 10pm since August 2017

Looking at the graph we have highlighted a few rough dates e.g. around the end of September 2017 something changed that introduced more variation in the top 10% speed each day and from that point on through November, December and January there was a general trend for the median and top 10% speed to improve. Around the end of March 2018 one can see there appears to be the start of a small downward trend in both the top 10% and median download values. When time allows we may look at extending this analysis further back in time e.g. if we go back to the time when Virgin Media was doing free speed upgrades it may be possible to tie changes in the trend to those dates. One worry we do have is that maybe Virgin Media is timing capacity upgrades each year to target the Ofcom November testing period so we are wondering whether this 'better' period will exist in other years between September and January.

Update 2:10pm We have run the 8pm to 10pm analysis now back all the way to 2010 and as the Virgin Media chart below shows the change we noted around the end of September 2017 is not a regular feature.

Peak time speeds for Virgin Media from January 2010 to May 2018
Speeds seen from Virgin Media broadband speed tests between 8pm and 10pm since January 2010

By going back to 2010 you can actually see the effect of the various speed upgrades that Virgin Media used to do on a regular basis, though since 2014 things were pretty stable until September 2017. The two major dips in March and May 2017 were down to major problems with Virgin Media on those couple of days.

Peak time speeds for BT and Virgin Media from January 2010 to May 2018
Speeds seen from Virgin Media and BT broadband speed tests between 8pm and 10pm since January 2010

To help illustrate the effect of any changes we have made in speed test technology e.g. back in 2010 we still used Java and in 2014 the shift towards the current technology away from flash resulted in a range of daily blips evident across different providers.

We kept the analysis restricted to the peak time period of 8pm to 10pm so that all the charts were consistent. The big difference between BT and Virgin Media is that Virgin Media has kept its speed titles by the various speed upgrades over the years whereas for BT the bulk of the growth over time is not from free upgrades but the public electing to upgrade to the VDSL2 service from ADSL or ADSL2+.


I suspect I am missing something obvious but I don't understand why those on fibre (FTTP) connections (BT, EE, Plusnet) are showing both median and mean rates so much lower than the maximum. Is this due to the end user using wi-fi to connect or due to congestion on either the hand-over or backhaul. For example BT Infinity 2 shows quite similar means for both FTTC & FTTP whereas I would have expected FTTC to be lower than FTTP due to having the rate determining copper link.

  • MCM999
  • 8 months ago

Wi-Fi effects, plus the state of the persons own computer all kick in.

NOTE: Infinity 2 is a fairly narrow window, so distance impact is also fairly minimum compared to the 0 to 55 Mbps sync you get on Infinity 1. Plus the 'free' speed' upgrades pushed a lot of Infinity 1 who could go faster into the Infinity 2 detection zones.

Plus FTTP is not immune to congestion issues of its own, or the usual ISP network stuff

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
I am surprise that ZEN is not showing in the results as they are recognised as the best in service,speed, and very high in the which survey. My line was in the BT group that was upgraded from Infinity 1 to 2 on a distance from the CAB at a distance of .3 of a mile the contract results do not tie up and the speeds have dropped.

  • Blackmamba
  • 8 months ago

@thinkbroadband It would be nice to see @hyperoptic in the results

  • @chaz_6
  • comment via twitter
  • 8 months ago

Those missing are missing simply because there is not enough data to talk with any confidence.

Zen, Hyperoptic and many others do feature in the monthly results, but when presenting just a 2 hour window from each day you obviously narrow your sample massively.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

Hi Andrews staff and others.
When I did traffic record Peak Time thus doing all PCM routes options were recorded and very often it was the small one that were causing congestion. I see EE is not looking very good and I exspect it is there backhaul and you may find that most small ISP will be the same lack of investment.

  • Blackmamba
  • 8 months ago

EE has its own unique problems and they DO NOT translate to being present on most small ISP as Blackmamba suggests.

The full 24 hour data set with the smaller providers is usually published on 1st or 2nd of the month.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
In my thinking it would be advisable to change ISP if the congestion is in the busy period giving the ISP a chance to invest in the next few month especially if the customer is on a long line over a mile on FTTC. This will be more appropriate when the new advertising comes in on the 23 May. QED.

  • Blackmamba
  • 8 months ago

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