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Ofcom reveals plans for more airwaves

Ofcom – broadband speeds see double-digit growth

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has reported that the UK saw double-digit growth when it came to broadband speeds last year. This growth brings it in line with global averages of 57.9Mbps – well almost.

According to Ofcom broadband download speeds increased by 18% over the last year to hit an average of 54.2Mbps. While upload speeds rose by 15% to 7.2Mbps. Both download and upload speeds have more than doubled in the last five years.

Ofcom used Netflix to measure broadband connections’ performance and commissioned tests from SamKnows. The measurement platform company monitored 4,918 volunteers connected to their routers during November and extrapolated the data from the results.

According to those results Virgin Media’s VIVID 350 cable package recorded the fastest speeds with a peak time – 8pm to 10pm – speed of 360.2Mbps. Second fastest was BT’s 300Mbps full-fibre package with an average peak time speed of 300.6Mbps.

Ofcom used the report to urge people to switch from copper-based lines and move into faster broadband services. Packages, Ofcom pointed out, which were often the same price or even cheaper.

This is also part of the government’s commitment to full-fibre broadband to be deployed around the country by 2033 and to be made available to 15 million homes by 2025.

Last year the National Infrastructure Commission announced its goals and estimated it would cost £33.4bn over 30 years. This is projected to be around £11.5bn more than incrementally upgrading the existing infrastructure.

Part of this will be Ofcom’s plans to extend their rules on allowing competing providers to access Openreach’s ducts and poles, ‘so they can build their own networks more cheaply and easily.’

Despite the impressive figures released by Ofcom, rural areas continued to suffer. Ofcom found that the proportion of lines that received an average peak-time download speeds greater than 300Mbps where significantly lower in rural areas than urban areas. Estimating at 44% and 61% respectively.

Only 13% of urban lines suffered a peak-time speed of under 10Mbps. In contrast 33% of rural areas could not achieve 10Mbps between 8pm and 10pm. Ofcom is preparing to auction more airwaves next year that should, they say, see improved coverage for rural areas as well as help pave the way for 5G.

Among other strategies to improve the UK’s broadband scenario, Ofcom has launched the new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) which, they claim, will improve broadband availability by giving homes and businesses the legal right to decent, affordable broadband connection.

Image: Ben Harris


A veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.
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