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The UK Top 6 Fastest Fixed Line Home Broadband ISPs for 2013

Friday, January 3rd, 2014 (1:46 am) - Score 2,312

The latest consumer Internet speed testing data for December 2013 reveals that Virgin Media has maintained its position as the fastest broadband ISP with a download speed of 35.387Mbps (Megabits per second). By contrast the overall national average download speed for all the largest providers was 18.376Mbps and uploads hit 3.320Mbps.

Sadly the anecdotal data, which was collected by Broadband.co.uk, doesn’t separate the results out by technology or include smaller ISPs (not enough data). We have little doubt that if smaller providers were included then true fibre optic (FTTH/P) setups like B4RN and Hyperoptic would almost certainly eclipse the performance of the big boys (albeit neither are available nationally), where slower cable and hybrid fibre solutions are more the norm.

Overall the primary consumer service changes throughout 2013 have stemmed from the growing availability / uptake of up to 80Mbps capable Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) connectivity and the completion of Virgin’s double speed upgrade, which is incidentally about to receive yet another boost up to a maximum of 152Mbps (here). Separately O2 and Be Broadband customers are now being merged into Sky Broadband.

But seeing as it’s the start of a new year we thought it might also be interesting to do a slight twist on the usual top six ISPs table by including the results from 2011 and 2012 to compare against 2013.

Top 6 Big UK ISPs for Average Download Speed
1. Virgin Media – 35.387Mbps (current) | 2012 Result: 37.224Mb | 2011 Result: 14.242Mb
2. BT – 19.138Mbps | 2012 Result: 15.764Mb | 2011 Result: 7.638Mb
3. PlusNet – 18.933Mbps | 2012 Result: 15.835Mb | 2011 Result: 4.606Mb
4. Sky Broadband – 11.799Mbps | 2012 Result: 7.810Mb | 2011 Result: 4.244Mb
5. EE (Orange) – 10.974Mbps | 2012 Result: 5.772Mb | 2011 Result: 3.787Mb
6. TalkTalk – 9.158Mbps | 2012 Result: 5.537Mb | 2011 Result: 4.651Mb

Top 6 Big UK ISPs for Average Upload Speed
1. BT – 4.888Mbps | 2012 Result: 3.378Mb | 2011 Result: 1.303Mb
2. PlusNet – 4.864Mbps | 2012 Result: 3.617Mb | 2011 Result: 0.449Mb
3. Virgin Media – 4.086Mbps | 2012 Result: 2.878Mb | 2011 Result: 2.229Mb
4. Sky Broadband – 2.806Mbps | 2012 Result: 1.215Mb | 2011 Result: 0.582Mb
5. EE (Orange) – 2.171Mbps | 2012 Result: 1.049Mb | 2011 Result: 0.563Mb
6. TalkTalk – 1.224Mbps | 2012 Result: 0.670Mb | 2011 Result: 0.582Mb

Practically every ISP listed has seen some improvement over the past two years (mostly due to adoption of FTTC). However Virgin Media’s download speed has been up and down like a yo-yo in 2013 (often hovering between 32Mbps and 37Mbps) and this is most likely because their 30Mbps package has continued to remain the dominant bundle, although the latest speed boost will probably help them during 2014 (i.e. the entry-level package will go from 30Mbps to 50Mbps). Virgin has also repeatedly softened its Traffic Management Policy, which might have had a slight impact on capacity alongside the existing double speed boost programme.

Meanwhile the other ISPs can expect to see continued improvements as the availability of FTTC expands and more customers migrate away from slower ADSL2+ lines. It’s also possible that BT may begin the national deployment of Vectoring technology in 2014, which works to reduce interference on FTTC lines and could improve the speed of existing connections (provided your VDSL modem/router supports it).

But as usual it’s a good idea to take anecdotal data like the above with a huge pinch of salt. Every home is different and performance can be affected by all sorts of issues, many of which are beyond the ISPs ability to control. We do not consider the above data to be a reliable barometer for individual users but it can help to highlight other changes in the market.

Furthermore faster speeds from the new generation of “super-fast broadband” connections can have a disproportionate impact compared with the older and often significantly slower copper-based ADSL2+ services, which still dominate most homes (i.e. Joe or Jane’s older ADSL2+ line probably isn’t much faster than it was two years ago).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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