In Ofcom's latest report, it seems that U.K. users of broadband services are now enjoying faster speeds -- reaching an average of 9Mbps in May.
The regulatory body for the broadcasting and telecommunications industries in the U.K. reported earlier in the year that U.K. broadband increased in speed by 22 percent in comparison to 2011. In November, broadband users enjoyed average speeds of 7.6Mbps in comparison to 6.2Mbps in 2010. The latest figure is 2 1/2 times faster than 3.6Mbps recorded in November 2008, when the first report was released.
The research report covers fixed-line residential broadband speeds. Ofcom believes the speed increase is driven by the move to new 'superfast' services -- in other words, network upgrades by ISPs and new, premium packages offered by providers to entice consumers willing to pay a little more for the best speeds.
In May 2012, 68 percent of U.K. fixed-line residential broadband users were on packages with advertised speeds above "up to" 10Mbps, an increase from 48 percent in the same timeframe last year.
Some of these packages include Virgin Media's "up to" 60Mbps service and BT's Infinity 2 "up to" 76Mbps service. However, network upgrades have also been taken into account, which come at little or no cost to consumers.
These 'superfast' services have increased in number -- in December 2011, only 5 percent of residential connections maintained this speed, whereas Ofcom says 8 percent were superfast in May 2012. Only 2 percent reached this level in May 2011.
Ofcom also found that different broadband technologies played a part. Cable broadband services generated the greatest increase in average speed across the six months leading up to May 2012 -- rising from 3.6Mbps to 17.9Mbps. Copper ADSL network average speed increased by 10 percent in comparison to the 26 percent rise by cable -- going from 5.3Mbps to 5.9Mbps.
However, fibre to the street cabinet (FTTC) connections fared poorly -- falling by 12 percent from 36Mbps to 31.6Mbps.
Out of the 12 ISP packages in the report, Virgin Media's "up to" 100Mbps service proved to be the fastest, Ofcom managing to reach an average speed of 88.3Mbps over 24 hours during the research. Of the superfast packages, the best average download speed was gained through BT Infinity's "up to" 76Mbps service, at 58.5Mbps.