Ofcom: Cable Speeds Past Fiber In U.K.

The average broadband speed delivered by cable operators in the U.K. have, for the first time, surpassed those being pumped out by fiber connections, according to a new analysis of fixed-line broadband services conducted by Ofcom, the U.K.’s communications regulator.

According to a study that tabulated data from November 2013 to May 2014, the average speed delivered by cable broadband reached 43.3 Mbps, taking a slight lead over fiber’s 42 Mbps. Cable’s average speed rose by 3.1 Mbps (8%), thanks in large part to customers upgrading to fastre speeds, while fiber connection speeds dipped 0.9 Mbps (2%), Ofcom said.

Average speeds for ADSL connections, which Ofcom said is the most common type of broadband in the U.K., increased by 0.7 Mbps (10%) to 7.4 Mbps during the studied timeframe.

Ofcom, which conducted the study to help consumers understand performance levels of differences of broadband services and make more informed purchasing decisions, said the average actual U.K. broadband speeds during this period rose by 5% (0.9 Mbps) to 18.7 Mbps.

Among other findings, Ofcom said the take-up of “superfast” services (those touting speeds of 30 Mbps or more) jumped from 24% to 28% of connections, while average superfast speeds remained stable, at 47 Mbps.

Among individual providers, the 152 Mbps (downstream) tier from Virgin Media (now part of Liberty Global) launched in February achieved the fastest download speed over a 24-hour period, averaging 141.9 Mbps. BT’s 76 Mbps fiber service followed with an average download speed of 62 Mbps.  Plusnet’s 76 Mbps package delivered the fastest uploads, with an average of 17.1 Mbps.

Ofcom also measured broadband during peak periods (8 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and found that performance  varied significantly between ISPs.

EE’s 38 Mbps package experienced the greatest degradation in speeds during peak periods – 27.2 Mbps, or 76% of the advertised max speed, with only 5% of subs on this tier getting an average peak-time speed that exceeded 90% of the max.

Sky’s 38 Mbps saw the least degradation during broadband primetime -- speeds during evening peak-time (34.5  Mbps) were 96% of the average maximum speed (35.9 Mbps).