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Copper load of that: Ofcom claims HUGE jump in 'average' broadband speed

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Britain's communication watchdog claimed today that "average" broadband speeds had "doubled" in the space of two years.

The data published by Ofcom was fairly limited in scope given that, for example, it only included ADSL customers within 5km of the exchange but not outside of that range.

The regulator used broadband monitoring outfit SamKnows, which tested speeds of 12 packages provided by the country's eight biggest ISPs. It recorded 643 million results in 2,019 homes on during November last year.

Ofcom happily trumpeted that more consumers were getting - on average - a faster broadband connection as they continued to subscribe to new packages with the major telcos, many of whom market their products around headline speed claims.

If we follow the watchdog's enthusiasm for these figures, which only account for 60 per cent of ISP packages available on the market, then the "average" residential UK broadband download speed hit 12Mbps in November 2012 compared with 6.2Mbps two years earlier.

BT - like a fat pig in a mud bath - soaked itself in the figures. The telecoms giant couldn't resist having a dig at rival Virgin Media, either, over its peak time throttling methods. It said:

Virgin may claim to have the ‘Ferrari’ of broadband services but this report clearly shows it gets stuck in rush hour traffic. BT fibre on the other hand is far more reliable ensuring customers enjoy an open road however fast they’re travelling.

The stats spewed out by Ofcom today found that superfast broadband products were far more likely to suffer crippling lags in speed during peak hours, with Virgin Media coming off a lot worse than BT on that criteria. The regulator noted:

In this category, the proportion of panellists who, on average, received more than 90 per cent of their maximum speeds at peak times ranged from 35 per cent for Virgin Media’s ‘up to’ 30Mbit/s service to 91 per cent for BT’s ‘up to’ 38Mbit/s service.

The findings suggest that, while there was relatively little congestion in BT’s fibre network in November 2012, levels of contention were higher in Virgin Media’s cable network.

The report - which you might want to print out, soak in water and then sling at the ceiling - is available here. ®

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