Broadband News

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

It is just over four weeks since we covered the last analysis of the single download versus multiple download speeds from our speed test, so let us look at the most congestion sensitive part of our speed test for the period 1st August to 31st August.

New this month is Vodafone mobile, which means we are showing data for 3 out of the 4 big mobile providers. The sample size for Vodafone mobile is borderline but if the trend of people using the new 4G/5G unlimited data plans for fixed line broadband replacement continues we will hopefully see the numbers rising and now O2 has an unlimited SIM plan we may see their sample size cross the minimum threshold for inclusion.

The switch to mobile networks is we suspect driven by both the affordable unlimited SIM deals that now exist and in areas where fixed line services are slow people are discovering that mobile can provide a better option. The broadband Universal Service Obligation which goes live in March 2020 is likely to boost things further, since even though BT (aka EE 4G) will be used by many, there is likely to be enough people looking at the other mobile providers and if they can deliver service at the right price point they will use them.

Off-Peak Tests Results August 2019
Off-Peak defined as midnight to 5.59pm
Median Average
Provider

tbbx1 Streaming Test
(1 download)

Median 

Multiple Download Test
(8 downloads)

Median

% difference
between
download tests

Upload Speed

Median

Quality
Lower value is Better
Grade A = Best
Latency
BT 31.3 Mbps 35.9 Mbps -12.8% 7.5 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 39ms
EE 19.1 Mbps 24.8 Mbps -23% 5.1 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 45ms
EE Mobile 3G/4G/5G 24.2 Mbps 28.2 Mbps -14.2% 6.7 Mbps 1.3 Grade C 64ms
Plusnet 24.1 Mbps 28.7 Mbps -16% 5.4 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 42ms
Sky 17.9 Mbps 23.7 Mbps -24.4% 4.9 Mbps 0.4 Grade A 47ms
TalkTalk 18.9 Mbps 25.5 Mbps -25.9% 4.6 Mbps 0.3 Grade A 46ms
Three 3G/4G/5G 13.5 Mbps 17.8 Mbps -24.2% 5.9 Mbps 1.1 Grade B 85ms
Virgin Media 48.1 Mbps 82.5 Mbps -41.7% 8.2 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 37ms
Vodafone Home Broadband 23.3 Mbps 32 Mbps -27.2% 6.6 Mbps 0.4 Grade A 42ms
Vodafone Mobile 3G/4G/5G 13.5 Mbps 18.8 Mbps -28.2% 5.3 Mbps 1.8 Grade D 88ms
Zen Internet 35.7 Mbps 41.9 Mbps -14.8% 10.5 Mbps 0.2 Grade A 34ms

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 August 2019
Peak time defined as 6pm to 11:59pm
Median Average
Provider

tbbx1 Streaming Test
(1 download)

Median

Multiple Download Test
(8 downloads)

Median

% difference
between download tests

Upload Speed

Median

Quality
Lower value is Better
Grade A = Best
Latency
BT 28.7 Mbps 35.4 Mbps -18.9% 7.0 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 40ms
EE 18.9 Mbps 25.3 Mbps -25.3% 5.6 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 44ms
EE Mobile 3G/4G/5G 21.9 Mbps 23.7 Mbps -7.6% 5.6 Mbps 1.4 Grade C 68ms
Plusnet 23.3 Mbps 27.3 Mbps -14.7% 5.2 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 44ms
Sky 17.4 Mbps 24.1 Mbps -27.8% 5.1 Mbps 0.5 Grade A 46ms
TalkTalk 15.2 Mbps 18.9 Mbps -19.6% 3.8 Mbps 0.4 Grade A 50ms
Three 3G/4G/5G 7.6 Mbps 10 Mbps -24% 2.1 Mbps 1.5 Grade C 93ms
Virgin Media 43.8 Mbps 77.5 Mbps -43.4% 6.4 Mbps 0.7 Grade A 39ms
Vodafone Home Broadband 18.7 Mbps 26.3 Mbps -28.9% 5.9 Mbps 0.6 Grade A 44ms
Vodafone Mobile 3G/4G/5G 9.1 Mbps 11.3 Mbps -19.5% 2.5 Mbps 2.2 Grade E 91ms
Zen Internet 36.1 Mbps 39.6 Mbps -8.8% 9.2 Mbps 0.2 Grade A 34ms

The mobile services in many cases don't look bad in terms of speeds compared to the fixed line, though Three is slower than the others though this is by virtue of the limited 4G spectrum they have, once take-up of 5G and coverage improves substationally it is possible this will change and Three might be the king of the mobile providers for speeds. Where the 3G and 4G services score badly is latency and the quality measurement i.e. latency is higher on the dominant 4G services and speeds even during the 8 to 12 seconds of a speed test are less consistent compared to the fixed line services. For standard web browsing, social media and video streaming this is likely to not be too much of a problem but for latency sensitive tasks such as gaming and remote working the hope is that 5G will deliver improvements.

Comments

I think at the beginning of the second sentence of the last paragraph it should read "mobile service" and not " fixed line service", otherwise it doesn't make sense.

  • pj66300
  • 26 days ago

Floxed

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 26 days ago

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