Virgin remains on top in broadband speed race


Virgin is beating BT in the UK broadband pace race, according to an Ofcom report showing overall residential speeds have risen by 22 per cent over the last year.

Of 13 ISPs reviewed by the regulator, Virgin's 'up to' 50Mbps offering had the highest average download speeds of around 49Mbps.

BT's fibre product Infinity achieved average download speeds of 36Mbps. Infinity achieved the highest average upload speeds of 8.8Mbps.

The new advertising rules will, for the first time, force our competitors to be more honest about their 'up to 24Mb' claims.

Virgin was pleased with the turnout as well as new rules clamping down on ISP's misleading 'up to' claims

"It's good to see Britain's broadband speeds moving in the right direction and the new advertising rules will, for the first time, force our competitors to be more honest about their 'up to 24Mb' claims. We hope they'll try to keep up," said Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin.

The new rules mean speed claims should be achievable by at least 10 per cent of the relevant ISP's customer base.

Where a significant proportion of customers are unlikely to receive a speed sufficiently close to that advertised, further qualifying information, such as the speed range obtainable by those customers, should be included in the advertisement. In addition, any claim should be based on robust and reasonably representative data," Ofcom said.

"In line with this new guidance, using data from Ofcom's latest research, the industry average speed based on the 10 per cent availability criteria would be 6Mbps for services currently advertised at 'up to' 8Mbps, and 14Mbps for services currently advertised at 'up to' 20/24Mbps."

BT said it was pleased with both Ofcom's broadband speed findings, as well as the advertising regulation, due to come into force from April 2012.

"Ofcom's approach to assessing broadband performance is moving away from just looking at download speed. Factors such as upload speed, latency, jitter and packet loss are increasingly important when assessing the overall performance of services. This is positive for BT as we focus on the overall experience," a BT spokesperson said.

"We give bespoke speed estimates to all customers at the point of sale and this is now underwritten by the Code of Practice. No customer should be in any doubt as to the likely speed that they should expect from our service before they make a purchase decision."

BT and Virgin have been pushing ahead in earnest with their fibre rollouts. Both have announced speed boosts for customers in the coming months, with Virgin pledging to double many users' capacities.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.