The fastest broadband providers

Updated: 

Fibre optics

Average UK broadband speeds have increased to 14.7 Megabits per second (Mbps), up 64% on May 2012, the latest research from Ofcom has revealed.

The report shows that the average broadband speed has more than quadrupled since Ofcom first began publishing information in November 2008 when speeds only just reached 3.6Mbps.


The study, conducted in May, included the latest 'superfast' broadband deals now on offer from Virgin Media and BT. Superfast packages now account for 19% of residential broadband connections, up from 14% in November 2012 and more than double the 8% it was a year ago.

Ofcom reckons that the increasing average speeds are a sign that more of us are willing to move suppliers to ensure that we get the fastest possible deal. It pointed out that while 68% of users were on packages with advertised speeds of up to 10Mbps in May last year, that figure has rocketed to 86% this year.

That's not just a result of us all switching over to superfast deals though, as Ofcom highlights plenty of users have seen their broadband broadband speeds improve as a result of network upgrades that barely cost us anything.

But people are also choosing to move to faster fibre packages. BT reported an increase of 550,000 customers by the end of March 2013 bringing its total fibre customers to 1.3 million. In May 2013 the average fibre-based speed was 43.6Mbps, up by 38% over the year.

Ofcom studied 14 different broadband packages in the report – six normal broadband deals and eight superfast packages. Below are the average download speeds for the non-superfast services.

BT ADSL2+
Maximum download speeds 8.9Mbps to 11.0Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 8.2Mbps to 10.2Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 8.2Mbps to 10.1Mbps

EE ADSL2+
Maximum download speeds 7.7Mbps to 10.7Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 7.1Mbps to 10.1Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 7.1Mbps to 10.1Mbps

Karoo ADSL2+
Maximum download speeds 9.9Mbps to 11.5Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 8.9Mbps to 10.6Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 8.8Mbps to 10.6Mbps

Plusnet ADSL2+
Maximum download speeds 9.1Mbps to 11.3Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 8.4Mbps to 10.6Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 8.2Mbps to 10.4Mbps

Sky ADSL2+
Maximum download speeds 7.7Mbps to 9.6Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 7.0Mbps to 8.8Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 6.9Mbps to 8.7Mbps

TalkTalk ADSL2+
Maximum download speeds 7.7Mbps to 9.7Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 7.1Mbps to 9.0Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 7.1Mbps to 9.0Mbps

Karooo achieved the best peak time speed in the study getting up to 10.6Mbps.

At the other end of the scale, Sky customers experienced a significant drop during the busy period between 8 and 10pm.

Here's how the superfast packages performed:

Virgin Media up to 30Mbps
Maximum download speeds 33.0Mbps to 33.7Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 29.4Mbps to 30.6Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 28.4Mbps to 30.1Mbps

BT up to 38Mbps
Maximum download speeds 33.1Mbps to 36.1Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 30.9Mbps to 34.4Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 30.6Mbps to 34.1Mbps

Plusnet up to 38Mbps
Maximum download speeds 33.9Mbps to 37.4Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 31.9Mbps to 35.4Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 31.3Mbps to 34.7Mbps

Virgin Media up to 60Mbps
Maximum download speeds 63.4Mbps to 63.8Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 56.4Mbps to 58.6Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 52.4Mbps to 56.2Mbps

BT up to 76Mbps
Maximum download speeds 64.2Mbps to 67.5Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 60.4Mbps to 63.9Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 59.3Mbps to 62.7Mbps

Plusnet up to 76Mbps
Maximum download speeds 63.4Mbps to 66.4Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 59.5Mbpsto 62.6Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 56.8Mbps to 59.8Mbps

Virgin Media up to 100Mbps
Maximum download speeds 102.9Mbps to 105.2Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 85.9Mbps to 91.7Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 76.9Mbps to 85.2Mbps

Virgin Media up to 120Mbps
Maximum download speeds 125.1Mbps to 127.5Mbps
Average download speeds over 24 hours 109.7Mbps to 115.6Mbps
Average download speeds 8-10pm weekdays 104.5Mbps to 111.4Mbps

So the Virgin Media package promising speeds of up to 120Mbps is in fact the fastest around, despite some pretty significant drop-offs from its maximum.

In fact, when it comes to superfast broadband, Virgin Media customers are likely to have speeds closer to what's advertised than BT customers across the board.

The gap between rural and urban broadband speeds has widened with a difference of 16.5Mbps in May 2013 compared to a difference of 9.5Mbps in May 2012. However rural areas are catching up with speeds that are increasing at a faster rate than elsewhere. Rural speeds experienced a 141% growth in average speed from May 2012 to 2013 while urban areas only grew 95%.

The Government has made a commitment to provide funding to improve broadband in rural areas. It aims for 95% of UK premises to have access to superfast broadband by 2017 and that a minimum speed of 2Mbps is available to all.

How does your broadband perform against its advertised speeds? Is there a noticeable drop off in speeds at peak times? Is speed the main factor when choosing a package? Let us know your thoughts in the comment bow below.