Broadband speeds to three in four homes are slower than those claimed by internet firms, according to a damning study (file image)
Broadband speeds to three in four homes are slower than those claimed by internet firms, according to a damning study.
Experts at Which? compared the actual download speeds that families are getting versus the figure claimed by internet service providers.
The group found that families in 284 out of 390 – 73 per cent – local authority areas are typically getting slower speeds than stated by companies.
Firms like BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin provide official estimates of their median broadband speed to the industry regulator, Ofcom, which published them in its 2016 Connected Nations report.
Which? used these figures as the benchmark for the median speeds that households are actually getting based on 712,000 speed tests carried out in people’s homes.
The median is the mid-point speed seen from all the tests carried out in a local authority area.
The biggest gap was identified in Ashfield in Nottinghamshire where tests found the median download speed was 62 per cent slower than the figure claimed by broadband firms.
The actual figure was 15.1 megabits per second (Mbit/s) versus the official claim of 40Mbit/s.
The figure in Lincoln was 60 per cent below expectations and in West Dunbartonshire the service was 59 per cent slower.
Britain lags behind much of the world in terms of broadband speed largely because the services are carried along old copper telephone wires.
By contrast many other countries have invested in new networks of fibre optic cables which are able to handle vast quantities of data at high speed.
A recent study put UK broadband speeds at 31 in the world, behind countries like Slovakia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania.
The poor service often comes with a high price tag given that annual broadband packages, including pay TV, can cost as much as £1,500, which is more than the average household pays for electricity and gas.
The Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, Alex Neill, said: ‘Our research has shown that in some areas there can be a big gap between what people may expect versus what they actually experience in their homes.
‘This gap raises questions on whether people across the country are really getting the service they are paying for.
The broadband speed in Lincoln (pictured) was 60 per cent below that advertised by the provider
‘People who are unhappy with their broadband should check their speed and follow our tips on how to improve their connection at home or switch to a better service.’
The Which? campaign ‘Fix Bad Broadband’ is calling on people to use its free speed checker to find out what broadband speed they’re currently getting, creating a picture of real speed data across the UK.
The group’s research found residents in a few areas are getting speeds that are faster than those estimated by suppliers.
Householders in Ceredigion, Wales, reported speeds of 14.8Mbit/s, which 83per cent quicker than the official estimates. Speeds in Merthyr Tydfil and Herefordshire were also better than expected.