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O2 and Be Broadband customers suffered a slowdown in the last year, against the market trend of improving speeds, it has been found.

Downstream for the two home broadband providers, who use the same network, dropped on average by 13 per cent to 5.1Mbit/s, according to web-based speed tests.

Against ADSL competitors - who contributed to a 22 per cent overall market rise in average speeds - the survey by Broadband.co.uk highlights the strain on O2 and Be's network.

Be pioneered ADSL2+ "up to" 24Mbit/s services in the UK. After O2 bought it in 2006 and launched bundled packages, the network had to cope with tens of thousands more users.

This time last year, O2 acknowledged service quality was suffering and promised investment in capacity. It seems that investment was not sufficient to reverse the decline, however.

Despite the drop, it should be emphasised that O2 and Be jointly offered second highest average speeds, according to the survey. Top spot was taken by Virgin Media, whose customers received 7.4Mbit/s on average.

BT and its subsidiary Plusnet slightly beat the overall increase in average speed, probably thanks to ADSL2+ upgrades. They were up 24 and 28 per cent, to 2.7 and 2.8Mbit/s respectively. ®

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