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The Fastest 8 Major National UK Home Broadband ISPs for Q3 2014

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 (1:48 am) - Score 1,336

The average Internet download speed for the biggest eight national fixed line home broadband ISPs in the United Kingdom held fairly steady at 22.45Mbps during September 2014 (up from 22.06Mbps in June 2014), while uploads increased by just +2.48% in the quarter to 5.37Mbps. As usual Virgin Media and BT top the tables.

Readers will note that we’ve switched our speed tables to a quarterly focus because the monthly updates were simply too frequent, especially given the very gradual pace of change. But for the time being our interactive performance chart (below – requires Javascript to be enabled) will continue to show monthly data, although this may change in the future.

Otherwise the broad trends remain unchanged. Cable operator Virgin Media continues to lead the pack for download performance with an average of 53.21Mbps, which has held stable since June. Virgin’s on-going double speed upgrades will also be having less of an impact now that the operator has moved on to upgrading the fastest packages, with fewer customers to impact the results.

Meanwhile BT continues to lead the pack for upload speeds with another fairly unchanged score of 7.54Mbps, although Zen Internet is beginning to threaten. In fact it’s worth nothing that Zen’s download performance also showed one of the biggest jumps in the quarter, going from 21.67Mbps in June to 23.82Mbps now.

The Fastest UK ISPs – Average Download Speed (Megabits per second)
1. Virgin Media – 53.21Mbps
2. BT – 25.21Mbps
3. Zen Internet – 23.82Mbps
4. PlusNet – 21.81Mbps
5. Eclipse Internet – 14.83Mbps
6. TalkTalk – 14.20Mbps
7. Sky Broadband – 13.71Mbps
8. EE – 12.82Mbps

The Fastest UK ISPs – Average Upload Speed
1. BT – 7.54Mbps
2. Zen Internet – 7.33Mbps
3. PlusNet – 6.78Mbps
4. Virgin Media – 6.51Mbps
5. Eclipse Internet – 5.25Mbps
6. Sky Broadband – 4.16Mbps
7. EE (Orange) – 2.99Mbps
8. TalkTalk – 2.45Mbps

As ever it’s important to remember that some of the smallest alternative network operators often deliver significantly better performance. For example, Hyperoptic’s fibre optic (FTTB) broadband network in several urban areas can deliver downloads of 100.57Mbps and uploads of 96.00Mbps.

Meanwhile Gigaclear’s similar, albeit rural focused, FTTP network delivered 141.85Mbps downloads and 205.50Mbps upload. Both ISPs offer peak speeds of 1000Mbps, but most consumers will take one of their slower speed packages and this impacts the results. Speedtesters may also be less reliable when testing at the dizzy heights of 1Gbps.

As usual all of this data is gathered using Ookla’s universal Speedtest.net service and we then calculate the overall average speeds from only the ISPs listed above (Ookla’s overall figures are sadly too skewed by business ISPs, niche providers and mobile operators for us to use).

Similarly readers will notice a gap in performance between the top and the bottom half of ISPs, which is largely because the last four tend to be dominated by slower ADSL2+ lines and the top providers benefit from having a greater proportion of “superfast broadband” (25Mbps+) capable connections (e.g. FTTC). This is especially true of Virgin Media, which can reach around 40%+ of the country with their strong hybrid fibre cable network (DOCSIS / EuroDocsis).

It’s also important to take average speeds like these with a big 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 (e.g. slow wifi or poor home wiring), thus we do not consider the above data to be a reliable barometer for individual users but it can help to highlight general changes in the market.

Finally, Ookla’s data attempts to reflect the fastest sustainable throughput performance by dropping a chunk of the slowest tests and a smaller slice of the fastest results for each ISP, which has its merits but also skews the results a bit.

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