The latest Ofcom report makes grim reading for fibre broadband users across the UK, as the watchdog declares cable broadband now provides a speedier service than fibre.
The report concerns itself with the period commencing in December and ending in May, in which the average speed at which fibre broadband operates fell by 2% to 42Mbps. On the other hand, the average speed at which cable broadband transmitted data soared by 8% to 43.3Mbps, denoting the first time mean speeds for cable have outstripped fibre.
Ofcom has put the increased efficacy of cable broadband down to heightened willingness on the part of consumers to splurge on high-speed packages, particularly from Virgin Media’s line of products, as the influential conglomerate cemented its status as the nation’s top cable broadband provider.
“We’re delighted to be officially rated the UK’s fastest broadband provider six years in a row,” said Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media’s chief executive officer.
“When it comes to making the most of our increasingly connected lives, speed matters. Virgin Media continues to invest in bringing superfast broadband to Britain at home, at work and on the go.”
Whilst fibre broadband is thought to have the propensity to function at the fastest rate, the majority of homes on fibre connections which max out at either 38Mbps or 75Mbps. An increase in the number of households using the former, according to Ofcom, is a key reason for the decrease in average speed of fibre broadband.
Bridging the gap between the Countryside and the City
Consumers out in the sticks are accustomed to suffering slower broadband connectivity, due to the typically low availability of the faster broadband products in rural areas. As such, these consumers have no choice but to acquire ADSL connections, product’s possessing already slow connectivity further exacerbated by poor telephone networks characteristic of rural areas.
However, the average broadband speed now stands at 18.7%, marking an increase of 5% over the early stated time frame analysed by Ofcom. The regulator has suggested that, in lieu of its findings, the gap between rural and urban connectivity is being bridged.
Broadband users in the countryside enjoyed a 20% surge in their average broadband speed to 13.6Mbps between December 2013 and May 2014, reflecting improvements to technological networks in rural areas and thus greater obtainability of faster cable and fibre broadband.
Conversely, consumers in cities and surrounding suburbs saw their broadband speed increase by 5%. Though, these customers enjoy significantly faster broadband speeds – 33.4Mbps and 22.9Mbps respectively – there is no question Ofcom’s data indicates the gap is being bridged, however no tangible evidence to this end was provided by the telecommunications watchdog.
Top dogs in the download/upload game
Virgin Media’s cable broadband offering yielded the speediest download rate, having entered the market in February of this year, with a top speed of 152Mbps and an average rate of 141.9Mbps.
Next best was BT’s fibre package, yielding an average speed of 62Mbps and a top rate of 76Mbps.
The fastest provider for uploading was Plusnet, which offered consumers an average upload speed of 17.1Mbps and a top speed of 76Mbps. So, those seeking transmitting mass amounts of data or serially skyping need look no further than Plusnet for the best bang for your buck.
Ed Richards, who announced his resignation, after 11 years, as Ofcom chief yesterday, said: “More and more consumers are benefitting from improvements to the UK’s broadband infrastructure. While good progress is being made, there is still work to do in ensuring more widespread distribution of high-speed, reliable broadband services across the UK.
“It’s important for us to provide consumers with the best possible information to help them understand the options available to them when choosing broadband, how different packages perform, and what they can do to get the most from their services.”
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