Virgin tops Ofcom's broadband speed study


Virgin Media's 10mbps service offers significantly faster speeds than competitors advertising similar speeds, an Ofcom study has found.

Ofcom used independent broadband speed tester SamKnows to look into networks of the top nine ISPs, which cover 90 per cent of the market.

The study compared Virgin's standard offering - up to 10mbps - with the "up to 8mpbs" on offer from its eight competitors. "Our research found that the average actual speeds received by Virgin Media cable customers on "up to" 10Mbit/s (8.1 to 8.7Mbit/s) are significantly higher than those delivered by any of the largest eight DSL operators' "up to" 8Mbit/s packages," the Ofcom report said.

Indeed, the average among DSL operators was between 3.2 to 5.1mbps, but Ofcom said O227, Orange, Plusnet, Sky and TalkTalk were much faster than AOL and Tiscali.

Virgin has recently asked SamKnows to audit the rest of its networks, but isn't yet sure if it will publish the results.

Speeds across the country

The Ofcom study also found that 57 per cent of the country had actual speeds at or below 2mbps, while 29 per cent had between two and eight. Just 14 per cent had over 8mbps.

The advertised rate was universally much higher that what was actually achievable, Ofcom noted. Those with plans advertised to 8mpbs actually had a maximum attainable speed of 4.8mbps and an average actual speed of just 3.9mbps.

Ofcom noted this wasn't always the ISPs fault, with speeds cut down depending on the length of copper cables, demand on the line, and interference in people's homes.

Indeed, despite the difference between advertised and average speeds, 83 per cent of surveyed respondents said they were satisfied with their broadband service, although speed was the number one complaint.

Still, it might be more an issue of awareness, as under 40 per cent of those surveyed weren't even sure what their headline speed was supposed to be.