Updates to this story
Internet watchdog Ofcom has announced the results of its investigation into broadband in the UK, showing that consumers have been getting miss-sold internet packages, with only speeds reaching only half of that advertised.
The Ofcom research showed that internet service providers (ISPs) were offering an average broadband speed of 13.8Mbits/s, though the actual download speeds that customers received were a mere 45 percent of this, at an average of 6.2Mbit/s.
Furthermore it was noted that ADSL which appeared to wildly vary in its reliability, leading to recommendations that a Typical Speed Range should be advertised prominently.
Ofcom results showed that ADSL internet provided through phone lines was incredibly varied, with claims for up to 20 or 24Mbit/s were found to reach just 6.2Mbit/s, a rather embarrassing 29 percent of what customers are paying for in good faith.
For up to 8Mbit/s an average ADSL service reached 3.4Mbit/s.
Two of the worst ISP in this sense were BT and Orange which regularly offered way above what their customers actually received.
However it seems that the faster the broadband speed the more likely the consumer is going to get a fair deal.
Those using Fibre-to-the-cabinet connections, around fifteen percent of the population, found that their actual connections were reached 78 percent of what they expected.
Meanwhile broadband via fibre optic cables were even closer to what was advertised, with the highest speed connections delivering around 90 to 96 percent of the advertised speeds.
For example Virgin Media’s highest speed 50Mbit/s deal, gave an average download speed of 46Mbit/s.
While Virgin should not be applauded for basically doing what it said it would, and indeed demanded good money for, the firm has certainly highlighted that it is possible to deliver at least a good portion of what it has promised, unlike BT.
However BT Infinity did manage to keep some face by offering by far the best upload speeds, obviously highly useful for those wishing to send large files on a regular basis.
While the average upload speed for all ISPs was 1.5Mbit/s, with Virgin’s 50Mbit/s package still only offering 2.5Mbit/s upload, BT infinity offered a much more impressive 8Mbit/s.
One of the ways in which Ofcom plans to rectify the service being provided to UK consumer is to attempt to implement the TSR, which it recommends should be shown at least as prominently as the ‘up to’ speed that firms are rather liberal with.
However according to industry experts not enough is being done:
"This research shows the need for consumers not to rely solely on advertised speeds in making decisions about which broadband provider to use,” Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder, thinkbroadband.
“Whilst we welcome Ofcom's proposal that broadband providers should give users more information on typical speeds, they do not as yet address how consumers should be made aware of traffic management practices, and Ofcom's current position appears to suggest broadband providers can for example restrict certain types of applications whilst labelling their product as 'unlimited' and quoting fast typical speeds, even though this may not apply to applications users are seeking to use."