This is a guest post by UK technology blogger and freelance writer Michael Davids. If you’d like to contribute to TechDrink, please get in touch.
Our broadband is a matter of great importance. We can do practically anything via the internet, from shopping to interacting with our friends. In fact, the element of social media is in itself a major part of our lives and a key reason why our broadband is so dear to us. Determining which network provider offers the fastest broadband is then significant, as nobody likes to be constantly sat waiting for pages to load while surfing the net.
The Original Leaders
Virgin has a renowned reputation for providing the fastest broadband speeds. This is due to their connection method – fibre-optic cables – being the speediest and most efficient method. However, BT have since also adopted fibre-optic broadband and have thus since gone some way to rivalling their position.
Virgin nonetheless offer mega broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps and are on route to boosting this to 120Mbps. BT on the other hand promises speeds of up to 76Mbps.
Advertised Speeds vs Actual Speeds
However, advertised speeds are somewhat different to the actual speeds experienced by users. It is therefore necessary to compare broadband speeds by the actual average user experience. A recent report by Ofcom has discovered that the speeds advertised by Britain’s major broadband providers have been somewhat misleading. Therefore while BT Infinity promises up to 76Mbps, customers in reality only get some 58.5Mbps on average over the course of a 24 hour day. A similar trend can be found in Virgin’s packages. Their 100Mbps service, in practice only reaches 88.3Mbps, while their 60Mbps package gets 55.9Mbps.
Thus our broadband networks aren’t as fast as we may think. Nevertheless however, Virgin still remain on top with the fastest broadband, despite only reaching up to 88.3Mbps.
However, what has changed over the last six months is that BT have intensified the pressure exerted on Virgin by switching to fibre-optic. Furthermore, another rival has emerged to offer broadband speeds of up to 76Mbps – the same amount promised by BT – through the use of fibre-optic connectivity. Plusnet have announced drastic improvements to its internet services and the launch of Plusnet Extra Fibre offers speeds of up to eight times faster than the average ADSL.
Unfortunately however, due to the recentness of Plusnet Extra Fibre’s emergence, the service is yet to come under the scrutiny of Ofcom investigations. Therefore, for the time being at least, we do not know whether their advertised speeds are actually reached in reality.
What we do know is that – advertised or actual speeds – Virgin remain the broadband kingpins. Some consolation can be attributed to their rivals however, as Virgin’s position is finally being threatened. At last, we have a proper broadband speed race on our hands!
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