Broadband News

Streaming, peak and off-peak broadband performance for largest UK providers in January 2019

It is time to look at the streaming (single download test) and peak and off-peak broadband speeds for the largest eight providers in the United Kingdom.

Unlike most of our other reporting on broadband speeds we do not break these results down by the type of technology used in each test, this is because the biggest controlling factor for congestion is how each operator is handling its core network and how busy it dares to run its interconnects to the rest of the world. Rephrasing this, if the issue was that VDSL2 technology and how Openreach run it were the cause of poor peak time speeds we would expect to see all the large providers with a lot of VDSL2 customers suffer similar problems.

Vodafone Home Broadband customers do seem to be most affected once again and this has been on-going for a while and changes maybe on the way to improve things. There is talk of having identified an issue in partnership with an equipment vendor and a fix being developed and tested. While we don't know for sure, that they are talking with an equipment vendor and developing a solution suggests that this is a software fix rather than simply increasing capacity of internal or external network links, this implies that maybe the fix is to tweak traffic management or how routing of traffic through the network is managed. It should not be traffic management though since the Vodafone KPI for the fixed line services says they don't run traffic management in normal circumstances, but perhaps the rapid customer growth has exceeded the bandwidth available and while more capacity is added emergency management is in place. Another option may be that the equipment is sold as handling X Gbps of traffic but is only managing to handle a lower level i.e. is not running to the maximum of the specification and tweaks are underway to fix this.

Off-Peak Tests Results January 2019
Off-Peak defined as midnight to 5.59pm
Median Average
Providertbbx1 Streaming Test
(1 download)
Multiple Download Test
(8 downloads)
% difference
between
download tests
Upload SpeedQuality
Lower is Better
Grade A = Best
Latency
BT 33.9 Mbps 38.1 Mbps -11.0% 8.2 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 36ms
EE 19.9 Mbps 25.3 Mbps -21.3% 5.0 Mbps 0.8 Grade A 43ms
Plusnet 26.9 Mbps 29.0 Mbps -7.2% 5.6 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 41ms
Sky 20.9 Mbps 29.2 Mbps -28.4% 5.7 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 39ms
TalkTalk 15.9 Mbps 20.4 Mbps -22.1% 4.1 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 49ms
Virgin Media 51.6 Mbps 83.2 Mbps -35.8% 9.0 Mbps 0.9 Grade B 37ms
Vodafone Home Broadband 15.6 Mbps 35.2 Mbps -47.9% 8.1 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 39ms
Zen Internet 35.4 Mbps 36.8 Mbps -3.8% 9.2 Mbps 0.3 Grade A 37ms

The quality score is looking at how stable the download speed is during the multiple download test. The observant will notice that we have moved from using six downloads to eight downloads, which in theory should give the speed test an even bigger slice of the bandwidth pie if there is congestion during a test, though looking at the figures this has made little to no difference.

Peak Tests Results January 2019
Peak time defined as 6pm to 11:59pm
Median Average
Providertbbx1 Streaming Test
(1 download)
Multiple Download Test
(8 downloads)
% difference
between download tests
Upload SpeedQuality
Lower is Better
Grade A = Best
Latency
BT 33.2 Mbps 36.6 Mbps -9.3% 8.0 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 35ms
EE 15.5 Mbps 22.0 Mbps -29.5%

4.0 Mbps

0.9 Grade B 50ms
Plusnet 25.0 Mbps 27.9 Mbps -10.4% 5.2 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 42ms
Sky 19.8 Mbps 27.2Mbps -27.2% 5.8 Mbps 0.7 Grade A

40ms

TalkTalk 16.7 Mbps 21.6 Mbps -22.7% 4.7 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 47ms
Virgin Media 51.6 Mbps 81.0 Mbps -36.2% 7.9 Mbps 1.0 Grade B

38ms

Vodafone Home Broadband 15.6 Mbps 35.2 Mbps -55.7% 8 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 39ms
Zen Internet 32.1 Mbps 37.1 Mbps -13.5% 9.6 Mbps 0.4 Grade A 33ms

There is a possibility that the hangover from New Year i.e. people off work and children also at home making heavy use of the broadband may have made the start of January a tough period in terms of peak time traffic performance but the pattern for Vodafone has been there for some months now.

One thought on the daytime Zen Internet figures, it is possible that part of the improvement is that during the day we are more likely to be seeing home worker and other business customers who probably have Ethernet to the desk for their computer, so the difference between day and night might actually be highlighting the difference that Wi-Fi can make.

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