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Broadband speeds down by a third in evenings

The average broadband connection speed drops by around a third during the evening, a uSwitch survey published on Wednesday has shown.It is well-known that evenings are the busiest time for web-surfing, as people are at home, awake and liable to engage in relatively heavy-duty online video consumption and music downloading.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

The average broadband connection speed drops by around a third during the evening, a uSwitch survey published on Wednesday has shown.

It is well-known that evenings are the busiest time for web-surfing, as people are at home, awake and liable to engage in relatively heavy-duty online video consumption and music downloading.

However, uSwitch's figures provide an interesting demonstration of the problem of contention — where a shared line, as almost all consumer broadband lines are, means a finite amount of bandwidth that some people can hog to the detriment of others.

According to uSwitch, the busiest time is between 7-9pm, when speeds are on average 6.2Mbps, or 35 percent lower than the fastest speeds — an average 9.6Mbps, available between 2-3am.

Some regions fare worse than others: Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset sees a 64 percent drop-off between off-peak and peak times, and Evesham in Worcestershire experiences an even-greater 69 percent difference.

"It really is surprising just how much broadband speeds fluctuate at different times of the day, with drop-offs of almost 70 percent in some areas of the UK," uSwitch technology expert Ernest Doku said in a statement. "Not many internet users enjoy the maximum headline broadband speeds offered by providers, and certainly not during the working week."

"This research may help to shed some light on why many bewildered consumers, who believe they've signed up to a certain broadband speed, never actually feel like their connection is fast enough," Doku added.

The survey by uSwitch, a price comparison site, was based on two million speed tests across the UK.

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