Broadband News

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

We've put chasing down new bits of broadband for an hour or two to cover the off-peak and peak differences in performance for the larger broadband services in the UK.

EE continues to be the poor boy from the set of providers that are part of the BT Group, i.e. streaming looks potentially more problematic for its customers but oddly tests we detect as being over the EE mobile network do not show this problem and other than the poorer quality score and higher latency the mobile service could pass as a fixed line provider. It will be interesting to see how EE Mobile (and the other mobile services) fare as 5G take-up increases, i.e. as well as higher speeds will the latency and variability over time during a test improve.

Off-Peak Tests Results June 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 value is Better
Grade A = Best
Latency
BT 33.9 Mbps 38.2 Mbps -11.3% 8.5 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 37ms
EE 21.1 Mbps 30.6 Mbps -31.0% 5.8 Mbps 0.6 Grade B 43ms
EE Mobile 3G/4G/5G * 23.8 Mbps 26.8 Mbps -11.2% 5.2 Mbps 1.3 Grade C 62ms
Plusnet 25.2 Mbps 27.0 Mbps -6.7% 5.2 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 46ms
Sky 20.0 Mbps 26.7 Mbps -25.1% 5.5 Mbps 0.4 Grade A 46ms
TalkTalk 19.4 Mbps 25.8 Mbps -24.8% 4.5 Mbps 0.3 Grade A 51ms
Virgin Media 55.5 Mbps 94.1 Mbps -41.0% 9.5 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 38ms
Vodafone Home Broadband 24.9 Mbps 32.4 Mbps -23.1% 7.0 Mbps 0.4 Grade A 41ms
Zen Internet 35 Mbps 38.8 Mbps -9.8% 10.2 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 June 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 value is Better
Grade A = Best
Latency
BT 32.8 Mbps 37 Mbps -11.4% 7.9 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 40ms
EE 16.4 Mbps 25.5 Mbps -35.7% 5.8 Mbps 0.8 Grade B 45ms
EE Mobile 3G/4G/5G * 21.2 Mbps 21.7 Mbps -2.3% 2.6 Mbps 1.5 Grade C 91ms
Plusnet 26.3 Mbps 29.1 Mbps -9.6% 5.5 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 47ms
Sky 19.0 Mbps 27.8Mbps -31.7% 5.4 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 44ms
TalkTalk 17.3 Mbps 22.0 Mbps -21.3% 4.1 Mbps 0.4 Grade A 51ms
Virgin Media 52.6 Mbps 93.4 Mbps -43.7% 6.9 Mbps 0.6 Grade B 40ms
Vodafone Home Broadband 21.6 Mbps 30.3 Mbps -28.7% 6.6 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 43ms
Zen Internet 35.0 Mbps 38.8 Mbps -9.8% 10.2 Mbps 0.3 Grade A 37ms

(*) EE mobile based tests have a caution against them because the volume is just large enough that it allows them to be included. 

As we mentioned further up the quality score is based on the multiple download performance and is essentially the variance for the download speed during the test period, so the less variance the better i.e. an ideal speed test will reach the maximum speed within 100ms of the test start and hold that speed for the full 8 to 12 seconds of the test.

We do not split providers based on the technology used for delivery as the differences between the two download tests is more of a test of the core network capabilities rather than the last mile connection.

The problems that plagued Vodafone Home Broadband where peak time streaming speeds were particularly poor seem to be over and their performance now matches that of the other LLU providers (i.e. those with their own backhaul network). It is almost as if one of the benefits of the higher pricing of the BT Wholesale platform for getting data from handover exchanges to providers own networks is less contention.

As usual Virgin Media scores badly but there is a point above which slower single download speeds will not be noticed by almost all the population, i.e. if HD and UHD streams are not impacted the only people we expect to see complaining are those shifting large datasets around when working from home.

EE may have just managed to scraped into the table based on the volume of tests but looking at the other mobile operators the peak time performance impacts are O2 Mobile -6.7%, three -33.7% and Vodafone Mobile -3.0% (caution is urged in any use of these figures due to smaller test volumes). We will keep an eye on these as time passes and as more unlimited options are appearing as the mobile operators make a push for a share of the fixed line home broadband market hopefully the test volumes will increase, in theory we expect three to improve dramatically as people move onto the 5G spectrum.

Comments

"The problems that plagued Vodafone Home Broadband where peak time streaming speeds were particularly poor seem to be other . . ."

s/other/over/

"EE may have just managed to scrap into the table based on the volume of tests . . ."

s/scrap/scrape/

  • burakkucat
  • 3 months ago

Floxed

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 3 months ago

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