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The days are getting longer but is your broadband getting faster? Yes, its that time for the February 2017 speed test results to be published and for the larger providers we are now splitting out the various speed tiers, as this means some providers appear several times now we have extended the main table the top 50 services.
|The 50 Fastest UK Broadband Providers and Services in February 2017
(ordered by median speed)
Smaller providers without enough geographic data samples are not included
|Provider||Quality Metric||Download Speed of bottom 10%
|Download Speed of top 10%
|Gigaclear 200 Mbps||1||100.9||104||127||96||115||158|
|Virgin 300 Mbps||1.5||38||85.8||109.9||13.7||19||217|
|Virgin 100 Mbps||1.7||19.1||56.6||55.4||5.5||6.2||90.6|
|BT Infinity 2 (FTTC)||1.1||28.9||50.6||50.1||15.1||14.4||72.4|
|Hyperoptic 100 Mbps||1.2||19.2||50.5||52.4||35.1||37.9||85.9|
|BT Infinity (FTTH)||1.4||20.5||49.1||60||10.8||13.6||98.4|
|Small/Medium providers - up to 76 Mbps (FTTC)||1.2||24.7||47||49.2||16.6||18.2||72.8|
|Virgin Media 200 Mbps||1.7||23.1||46.5||75.2||10.5||10||161.9|
|Gigaclear 100 Mbps||1.5||21.5||44||44.7||36.9||37||69.6|
|Zen Internet (FTTC)||1.2||18.7||39.4||45||15.1||15.8||71.8|
|PlusNet Fibre Extra (FTTC)||1.3||16.8||38.6||40.1||9.5||10.7||66.9|
|Sky Fibre Pro up to 76 Mbps||1.5||26.5||38.1||41.7||10.7||12.4||63.3|
|EE Fibre Plus up to 76 Mbps||3||21.8||36.7||40.2||11.3||12.9||62.9|
|Daisy Wholesale (FTTC)||1.4||12||35.4||37.2||9.9||12.2||68.6|
|SeeTheLight (IFNL - FTTH)||1.5||12.1||32.6||37.5||11.4||12.7||63.7|
|TalkTalk Fibre Plus up to 76 Mbps||1.4||15.8||32.1||33.9||6.5||8.3||56|
|Vodafone Broadband (FTTC)||1.4||13.2||31.1||31.9||8.7||9.5||52.8|
|BT Infinity 1 up to 52 Mbps (FTTC)||1.3||12.7||29.7||30.2||6.6||6.2||49.3|
|PlusNet Fibre up to 38 Mbps||1.3||13.4||28.8||26.9||1.7||1.6||37.1|
|EE Fibre up to 38 Mbps||2.5||11.1||26.1||24.7||7.4||6.5||36|
|TalkTalk Faster Broadband up to 38 Mbps||1.4||12.6||25.4||25.1||1.7||1.7||36.8|
|Sky Fibre up to 38 Mbps||1.5||10.9||24.1||23.3||6.4||6.1||35.2|
|Small/Medium Providers up to 38 Mbps||1.4||7.6||23.2||22.6||5.8||5.6||36.7|
|Virgin 50 Mbps||2||2.6||21.5||24.3||2.4||2.1||52|
|Daisy Wholesale (ADSL)||1.4||0.9||6.2||7.3||0.5||0.6||16.8|
|Zen Internet (ADSL)||1.5||1||6.1||7||0.6||0.6||15.5|
|Vodafone Broadband (ADSL)||1.6||1.2||5.8||6.8||0.6||0.6||13.7|
The quality metric needs its scale explaining so a rough guide is:
We hope to bring an advanced set of speed test results for each individual test in the near future, so that people can see how their individual test is behaving and we intend to compare the metrics against those recorded by other users on the same provider, thus giving you a better idea of you are performing above or below the average.
Given the extra number of products in the main table we have dropped technology split table, but will feature it occasionally in the future so that the relative differences between the technologies can be seen. This is particularly important with the growing number of small Fibre to the Premises operators who don't make our main table due to the low number of tests.
|Median Peak and Off-Peak Download Speed Tests Results January 2017|
|7am-3pm||6pm-midnight||% difference||7am-3pm||6pm-midnight||% difference||7am-3pm||6pm-midnight|
|BT||23.7 Mbps||23.5 Mbps||-0.8%||26.4 Mbps||26.2 Mbps||0%||1.03||1.15|
|EE||8.2 Mbps||7.5 Mbps||-8.6%||9.4 Mbps||8.6 Mbps||-8.6%||1.32||1.62|
|Plusnet||18.1 Mbps||17.4 Mbps||-3.9%||22.8 Mbps||18.2 Mbps||-20.1%||1.06||1.17|
|Sky||11.5 Mbps||10.5 Mbps||-8.7%||14 Mbps||14.1 Mbps||+0.8%||1.20||1.33|
|TalkTalk||10.2 Mbps||10.3 Mbps||+1%||12.3 Mbps||12.2 Mbps||-0.8%||1.18||1.19|
|Virgin Media||39.5 Mbps||26.4 Mbps||-33%||58.6 Mbps||45.5 Mbps||-23%||1.54||1.75|
PlusNet believes it fixed in February an issue that has been causing poor single thread download speeds for users at peak times and while there has been some improvement we may have to wait for March to complete to see if there has been a major improvement. Virgin Media continues to perform badly and while their average speeds are still a lot faster than many other services the impact of the speed variations is reflected in the poorer quality score and the posts you see from people complaining about gaming and streaming performance with the provider - it is thought that this variation is also behind why the Virgin 100 Mbps tier comes out faster than the 200 Mbps tier in our speed test tables.
Digital underpins so much of modern life that the Digital Strategy document published on 1st March 2017 by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will over the next few years touch on many components of our daily lives, whether travelling, at work or resting at home.
The strategy was original due in 2016 but got delayed for various reasons and that delay means that certainly for the broadband infrastructure segment much of its contents are already well known, but still it is worth having them permanently etched into Government paperwork so that everyone knows what the aims are.
"Improved regulation of the consumer market will also play an important role in improving connectivity. We are working with regulators and industry to ensure that advertising for broadband more accurately reflects the actual speeds consumers can expect to receive, rather than a headline ‘up to’ speed available only to a few, and accurately describes the technology used, using terms like ‘fibre’ only when full fibre solutions are used. There should not be a gap between what is promised by providers and what is experienced by the consumer. The non-statutory Advertising Standards Authority has already made some progress in ensuring that broadband prices are made clearer and costs to consumers are not hidden, and we will continue to work with them to ensure that the advertising of communications is accurate and fair.Extract from DCMS Digital Strategy
The above section has previously only being referenced by people like Ed Vaizey MP back in early 2016 when he led a call for better speed information in advertising, and forcing the hand of regulators be they Ofcom with statutory or the ASA/CAP with non-statutory powers over how words like 'fibre' is used is a great way to get people on board and supporting other work DCMS has in the pipeline. So the future of advertising looks like to contain less works like fibre, and to some extent TalkTalk are already there with their Fast (ADSL2+), Faster (VDSL2) product names, and there is one other provider that asked all those listing its services to tweak wording to remove the word fibre already (though their own site still carries the references). Our monthly speed test results are expanding again, as we will release today our first results from the tracking of the speeds of the actual product tiers from the major providers.
"£1.7 billion of public funding is already being invested in delivering broadband across the country. Over 90% of UK premises can now access superfast broadband, and we are on track to reach 95% of UK premises by December 2017. Through strong contractual value for money requirements, we have released additional funds to extend delivery, with 600,000 more premises expected to benefit by 2020."Extract from DCMS Digital Strategy
The 95% target is now just 9 months away and with 2.6% which is around 740,000 premises still needed to be delivered to hit the target there is lots to do, and while it looks potentially on track a lot will hinge on how many new premises were built in 2016 and will be built in 2017 and whether developers do take up the options of pure fibre connectivity that now exist rather than defaulting to just a phone line. One would hope those new builds without decent broadband would not sell, but alas sales people are very convincing and promises are made that fall by the wayside.
The future of course is pure fibre or full fibre depending on your preference for wording and this means fibre to the premises. The pressures to roll-out better broadband so fast after a late start and value for money criteria mean that the UK has gone for its various hybrid solutions and nimby pressures are not helping some providers who are expanding their footprints.
Ofcom as part of its landline review has decided that BT Consumer has significant market power for standalone landline services and is planning to force the consumer arm to reduce its line rental price by £5 to £7 per month for those who don't also have a BT Consumer broadband service.
"Line rental has been going up, even as providers’ costs come down. This hurts people who rely on their landline the most, and are less likely to shop around for a better deal. We think that’s unacceptable.>
So we plan to cut BT’s charge for customers who take only a landline, to ensure that vulnerable customers get the value they deserve.Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive
This is not written in stone just yet, as the plan has to go out to consultation and one can envisage that while BT Consumer does have the lions share of the standalone market, those smaller providers who have always undercut BT Consumer by £3 to £5 month may have something to say if they are suddenly competing against BT Consumer standalone line rental at £13.99 per month, it is conceivable that some of low cost standalone line rental providers may exit the market increasing the dominance of BT Consumer. The proposals also apply to those who take a voice only service and make use of line rental saver.
Ofcom is holding out the hope that by forcing the hand of BT Consumer that its competitors will follow suit, in a similar way to how many of them have tracked the price rises in line rental for the last few years.
Future price rises to recover the cost of this price cut are guarded against for landline only customers by requiring BT Consumer to keep any price rises below the Consumer Price Index and this covers line rental, call charges and the call package add-ons. Though it is not clear if those taking a broadband and line bundle from BT get the same call protections, so the millions of reduced revenue might be recovered by increasing bundle prices.
Essentially this is correcting the perceived failure of the decade old LLU revolution to service the voice only segment of the market. The number taking a landline only service is some 2.9 million households.
So what about those who take voice line rental from BT Consumer and broadband from another provider (i.e. WLR3 and SMPF broadband) well it appears that this market of 1.2 million (part of the over 2.9 million households - change is limited to residential services) will also benefit.
There is now a consultation period running until 9th May 2017 and this means don't expect any price cuts soon.
A price cut of £5 in BT Consumer line rental might see more people taking line rental as a standalone product when chasing the cheapest combinations of broadband and phone, but there is also the real chance that at a time when the Government is trying to encourage more people to make use of broadband to make running public services cheaper that a wider gap in the cost of a phone line and then a phone/broadband package will discourage people from buying fixed line broadband.
Online scams are getting better, but the patterns are the same and it is suspected that the scale of the 'support' scams is such that the person actually phoning you may even believe they are working for the company they claim to be working for.
Having just removed adware installed using AnyDesk after a parent believed a scam caller because when asked 'are you really from BT?' and the caller said yes, and apparently the sounds of a call centre convinced them this was genuine, I thought it was worth highlighting how people are caught out and some of the things you can do to help or avoid being scammed. The parent has had the chats and warnings about these sort of scams, but the fact they fell for it highlights that you need to vigilant all the time.
So how do you protect yourself? What should you say to friends and relatives?
In this case the caller was claiming to be from BT support and was stating that her PC was infected and they would sort it out if she downloaded AnyDesk remote control software. Alas the parent did download AnyDesk but thought more of it and contacted us, and after some scanning have removed AdWare that was installed for the short time they had control. So the key points to convey to people are...
A great resource if you don't have a friendly tame IT person to hand to help you is www.getsafeonline.org and while it may seem a bit scary to read of so many scams that are done online, being pre-warned is half the battle.
The 'support' scams have been running in various disguises since at least 2009, and the fact they have not given up indicates they are still getting a reasonable hit rate, a better informed public will hopefully in time mean they will vanish and hopefully some of those behind the scams will get caught and sent to prison eventually.
A new offer has arrived on the Unlimited ADSL2+ service from Sky if you join without taking a satellite TV package, the monthly price of £18.99 for 12 months (including line rental) is the same as usual but there is now a £75 PrePaid MasterCard to be claimed once your service has gone live.
This offer is running until the end of 16th March 2017, and carries a 12 month contract, with the price rising to £28.99 per month if you stay after then. There is a £9.95 set-up fee which covers the cost of delivery for the Sky Hub.
Broadband offers ebb and flow and for those looking to switch and make the most of rewards the next week looks a good time to switch.
BT Consumer has brought back the iTunes or Amazon gift card choices on is SIM only deals with values of £20, £40, £70 and £90 depending on the SIM deal you take, for existing BT broadband customers they start at £5/m for the 500 MB data, 400 minutes of calls and unlimited text SIM through to the 20GB data with unlimited calls and texts for £20/m (those not with BT already pay an extra £5/m). The 20GB package is apparently set to revert to its standard 15GB size after 1st March and all the SIM Only deals carry a 12 month contract.
For those after fixed line broadband, the unlimited packages are actually cheaper than the ones with usage limits and the reward cards are at a peak value of £100 for ADSL2+ services and £150 for the FTTC and FTTP products. So unlimited ADSL2+ is £23.99/m for the 12 month contract period (£9.99 setup fee) and Unlimited Infinity 1 (up to 52 Mbps download, up to 9.5 Mbps upload) is £28.99/m for 12 months and a £59.99 setup fee.
This round of mobile and broadband deals all end on 1st March 2017.
The BT packages are more expensive after the 12 month contract ends (ADSL2+ is £40.99/m and Unlimited Infinity 1 is £47.49/m), but in a market where switching is encouraged the trick is to either switch at the end of the minimum term or agree another fixed contract period in return for a better than standard pricing deal.
The Digital Economy Bill has many facets to it, but a debate a couple of weeks ago was held in the House of Lords and now the Lords have followed up with amendment to the USO plans which has gone to the vote today and at 250 votes for and 206 votes against there seems an outside chance the USO may change its nature.
1: Clause 1, page 2, leave out lines 4 and 5 and insert—
- (2B) The universal service order must specify that the target for broadband connections and services to be provided before 2020 must have—(2BA) The universal service order must specify as soon as reasonably practicable that, by 2020, the following will be available in every household in the United Kingdom—
- (a) speeds of 2 gigabits or more;
- (b) fibre to the premises (FTTP) as a minimum standard;
- (c) appropriate measures to ensure that internet speed levels are not affected by high contention ratios;
- (d) appropriate measures to ensure service providers run low latency networks.
- (a) download speeds of 30 megabits per second;
- (b) upload speeds of 6 megabits per second;
- (c) fast response times;
- (d) committed information rates of 10 megabits per second;
- (e) an unlimited usage cap.
- (2BB) In meeting the obligations set out in subsection (1), internet service providers have a duty to ensure that their networks offer at least the minimum standards specified in subsection (2BA) to every household in areas of low population density, before deploying their networks in urban areas.(2BC) The Secretary of State must ensure that—
- (a) the premises of small and medium-sized enterprises are prioritised in the roll-out of the universal service broadband obligation;
- (b) rollout of universal service broadband obligations is delivered on a fair and competitive basis.
- (2BD) The universal service order shall, in particular, say that mobile network coverage must be provided to the whole of the United Kingdom.Uncorrected Hansard transcript from House of Lords 22nd February 2017
The amendment seems to be calling for rather than a USO that by being available, rather than on demand as previous Universal Service Obligations have been they want the UK to hit 100% superfast coverage by 2020. Additionally rather than the previous 10 Mbps minimum speed goal, a more ambitious 30 Mbps target for downloads with 6 Mbps upload speeds is favoured. The committed information rate may actually be the hardest part, since if enforced in law would require UK broadband providers to build their core networks such that every customer can download at 10 Mbps at the same time, unless this means just across the access segment as with Openreach GEA products now, where once you reach the ISP you fight for bandwidth as normal.
Ofcom did explore various options for the USO back in 2016, and the House of Lords do discuss this saying 'The economic case for an additional £800 million is extraordinarily well justified' with the £800 million being in addition to a 10 Mbps USO where a slightly better than the bare minimum solution was roughly costed at £1.2 billion.
Those looking at the USO and to date only BT has put its head above the parapet in any official manner were probably hoping to deliver the USO via a mixed technology approach, i.e. some more VDSL2/G.fast maybe using more remote nodes, some fibre to the premises, some 4G, some fixed wireless and for the most expensive maybe satellite. In practice all those technologies can also provide 30 Mbps but you end up having to change the technology mix.
Could the UK deploy 1,160,000 million fibre to the premises connections by 2020, given the money to pay for the labour and a willingness to accept more disruption on rural roads then without a doubt. The big question for the Government if this amendment makes to into law is how to do this without BT (or anyone else who grabs a share of the money) from exploiting the tight timescales, we know BT is planning 2 million premises of pure fibre by 2020 already, but a lot of that looks to be urban where distances are shorter and new build apartment blocks, to deliver to pure fibre to every remote property is a very different task and may see some homes having £30,000 spent to get them superfast broadband when the resident does not even want broadband.
We applaud the ambition of the House of Lords but worry that if the bar is set very high we may end up getting very little, or looking at it another way its signing a blank cheque for BT Group.
The outside in, or inside out approach to the roll-out is potentially a distraction, when what would make more people happy would be if there was a way to prioritise who did get much better broadband, since the USO is not addressing a solely rural problem.
Some surprising news today as Chris Townsend who has been the CEO of BDUK for three years is to leave in April 2017 and is set to become commercial director of Chelsea FC.
"I have enjoyed my three years as CEO of BDUK and it has been an honour and privilege to lead a high-performing team which has achieved outstanding results. I am proud to have been a DCMS Board Director and part of the executive leadership team which has secured an outstanding rise in staff engagement over the last 3 years.
I would like to extend my thanks to the Secretary of State and her Ministerial team for the support given in order to achieve the success of BDUK to date. We are on track to achieve the 95% target by December 2017.Chris Townsend statement
When Chris Townsend joined the Broadband Delivery UK team as CEO three years ago things were very different and superfast broadband coverage in the UK was at 77.5% (77.1% 30 Mbps and faster) and just under three years later it is hitting the 92.3% to 92.4% mark and with the roll-outs continuing a goal of 95% in ten months is in sight. One of the often unsung changes has been that the BDUK contracts in the second phase have diversified and not all gone to a single supplier as the original contracts did when they all went to the BT Group.
"Chris brought a wealth of experience with him to the DCMS when he joined three years ago, and has overseen a remarkable transformation of the UK’s digital landscape. More than nine out of ten homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband and we are on track to reach 95 per cent by the end of this year.
I wish Chris all the best for this exciting career move, and thank him for the tremendous contribution he has made to the work of the department.Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley MP
We await news of the successor and look forward to engaging with them and even when all the existing broadband goals are met there is lots of work to be done to expand the various ultrafast broadband visions and ambitions into actual plans that are delivered. The technology sphere is one where you need to start work on the next version of whatever it is, before you've even fully delivered the first due to the pace of change involved.
The superfast broadband roll-outs both commercial and gap funded have made great strides in coverage but as superfast broadband becomes ever more important those still waiting for the roll-out to reach them are increasingly frustrated and double that frustration for businesses missing out.
To the rescue is a partnership of four councils who are making grants of up to £25,000 available for businesses to get installed bespoke next generation access (NGA). The four councils are Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Councils and Gloucestershire County Council.
This funding will enable us to provide funding support to those qualifying SMEs that cannot access superfast broadband.
The partnership between the four local authorities demonstrates a new approach to addressing the particular broadband requirements of businesses in these areas and is one of the largest grants of this type, both in terms of its geographical footprint and the amount available.
The ultimate aim of the grant is to enable economic growth in these locations by providing businesses with access to financial support to provide access to superfast speeds in excess of 30Mbps.Cllr Roger Phillips chairman of Marches European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) Committee
The grant is funded from a mixture of sources including some money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The grant scheme is not open to applications, but this launch means it is very close to taking applications, a suppliers day will be held on Wednesday 29th March so broadband providers can learn about the scheme and decide whether to participate.
Clearly 100% coverage at superfast speeds would be ideal and areas like Herefordshire and Gloucestershire do have a higher than average ratio of FTTP to FTTC in rural areas, but as networks take time to build voucher schemes have an important part to play in ensuring SMEs can jump ahead of the curve. Hopefully the scheme will also be accessible for developments that for example convert farm buildings into offices for a number of small companies allowing them to offer superfast broadband to tenants from day 1.
The BDUK team running within DCMS has released its data for the period to the end of December 2016.
The pace of the BDUK roll-outs may have slackened somewhat as projects undertake reviews and a shift towards more fibre to the premises increases the amount of work needed to add more premises. This shift in technology potentially explains the drop in the number of premises passed per £1 million of money from Westminster, since a high in September 2014 plus the additional work involved with Exchange Only lines being upgraded and infill cabinets that are an increased feature of the projects now.
|Cumulative to end of:||Premises with superfast broadband service made available||BDUK funding (£)||Number of premises covered per £million of broadband delivery programme expenditure|
The premises figure does take into account the drop of in performance from VDSL2 as the length of the increases and thus includes only premises where speeds over 24 Mbps are to be expected.
Our own independent tracking reveals that at the end of January 2017 we recorded 4.1 million premises had gained access to a superfast broadband option via the project, which while lower than the official figure is explained by factors including fibre to the premises coverage where we are not differentiating between commercial and BDUK funded coverage currently and some 100 to 200 cabinets that are infill or EO upgrades and we are still determining their actual location. There are an additional 533,000 premises passed by VDSL2 but not getting superfast speeds in our data, and this may also explain some of the gap i.e. our adoption of a pessimistic crosstalk model (i.e. take-up running at 50% or more).