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The UK 2016 vs 2015 Top Fastest Mobile and Home Broadband ISPs

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016 (1:18 am) - Score 1,925

It’s interesting to note that Sky remain at the bottom for download performance, which is despite continuing to receive some of the fewest consumer complaints among the big boys. Sadly Sky are tight lipped about their FTTCfibre broadband” subscriber totals, so it’s just possible that their older and slower ADSL2+ lines might have more influence than at rival ISPs.

On the other hand the average FTTC speed for Sky was recorded as 26.2Mbps, which is well below many of the other top 10 providers. So part of the reason for their poor performance above could be because most of their subscribers are still using the old and slow SR101/102 router, which has terrible WiFi performance.

The Fastest Alternative Network ISPs

At this point we’ll turn our attention to alternative network (altnet) providers, most of which only have a comparatively small level of network coverage or sample data from customers. Unfortunately this means that we can’t offer a very comprehensive list of such ISPs, but we are able to list some of those that show up most frequently in the data.

Altnets often deliver some of the fastest home broadband speeds in the country and that’s thanks in no small part to their ultrafast pure fibre optic (FTTP) infrastructure, although some (e.g. Relish) prefer to use high frequency wireless connections and elsewhere KCOM (Hull) is a mix of ADSL2+, FTTP and just a little FTTC.

Many more altnets exist than those listed below, but the sample sizes are so small as to be potentially unreliable and hence we don’t have enough data to show them. The use of WiFi can also have a particularly strong negative impact on ultrafast FTTP/H providers, which may act to mask their true capabilities.

Average Download Speeds

No. Operator 2016 (Top 10%) 2015 (Top 10%) Change
1.  Hyperoptic 78.9Mbps (171Mbps) 88.2Mbps (252Mbps) 10.54%
2.  Gigaclear 64.4Mbps (104.8Mbps) 72Mbps (154Mbps) 10.56%
3.  KCOM 32.1Mbps (80.1Mbps) no data no data
4.  Relish Wireless 14.9Mbps (39.1Mbps) 14.7Mbps (33.9Mbps) +1.36%

Average Upload Speeds

No. Operator 2016
2015 Change
1. Hyperoptic 66.4Mbps 77.1Mbps 13.88%
2. Gigaclear 62.5Mbps 78.6Mbps 20.48%
3. KCOM 8.6Mbps no data no data
4. Relish Wireless 1.7Mbps 2Mbps 15%

Both Hyperoptic and Gigaclear operate ultra-fast Gigabit capable FTTP/B style networks and so unsurprisingly they deliver some of the fasted fixed line broadband speeds in the country, which is only being held back by the fact that each also offers a selection of slower packages at more affordable prices (i.e. most people tend to prefer 50-100Mbps to a more expensive 1Gbps service).

We wouldn’t read too much into the performance drop at the two pure fibre optic providers above because they’re still building out their networks and this may just be due to which packages end-users are opting to take, although it is something we’ll keep an eye on. Sadly neither ISP releases detailed subscriber data like the big providers, so we can’t easily judge.

The Top Fastest Mobile Network Operators

Unsurprisingly the ever increasing coverage of 4G based Mobile Broadband networks among the four primary operators has helped to support an increase in Internet connectivity performance. As per our introduction, EE (BT) delivers the best 4G coverage and has one of strongest deployments of faster LTE-Advanced technology, which helps to fuel a clear lead.

However it should be said that their rivals are catching up and by this time next year some of the results could be a lot closer, although EE’s win of the Government’s new Emergency Services Network contract means that their coverage is still likely to be superior (i.e. EE’s 4G geographic reach should hit 95% of the by 2020, which equates to 99.8% of the UK population).

Average Download Speeds

No. Operator 2016
2015
Change
1. EE 27.4Mbps 18.3Mbps +49.73%
2. Vodafone 16.3Mbps 14.3Mbps +13.99%
3. Three UK 14.4Mbps 11.4Mbps +26.32%
4. O2 14.4Mbps 12Mbps +20%

Average Upload Speeds

No. Operator 2016
2015
Change
1. EE 5.3Mbps 4.2Mbps +26.19%
2. Three UK 3.7Mbps 3.1Mbps +19.35%
3. Vodafone 3.5Mbps 3.1Mbps +12.9%
4. O2 3.1Mbps 2.6Mbps +19.23%

Disclaimer: It’s important to take average speeds, like those reported above, 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 provider’s ability to control (e.g. slow wi-fi 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.

Mobile connections are also particularly subject to the daily movements and radically differing hardware choices (Smartphones etc.) of their end-users, which makes it especially difficult to establish a reliable picture of performance across each network.

Finally, readers can conduct a test of their Internet connection performance via our Speedtest Page, which also contains a simplified summary of the above data including the previous mid-year 2016 result instead of the 2015 score; this reflects the fact that we tend to update our service speed data every 6 months.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar gpmgroup says:

    Interesting stats! (Even with all the caveats.) What would be helpful would be like for like latency comparisons.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Speedtests like this aren’t the best measure for latency; Ofcom’s direct testing is arguably much more useful as you can rule out the impact of WiFi. But the regulator’s data sample is rather small.

      https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/broadband-research/home-broadband-performance

      However latency can be affected by a lot of elements and so it’s difficult to create a truly reliable benchmark.

    2. Avatar Dumb argument says:

      Latency differences/averages between most of the providers based on Ofcom data and other reports is small and less than a handfull of ms (milliseconds) difference between them all. All are typically under 20ms, which is more than fast enough for most people.

    3. Avatar gpmgroup says:

      @Mark, thanks for posting the link appreciated.

      @Dumb_argument – Depends on how you use your time, if what you do is valuable the 20ms here and there quickly add up 🙂

      Even simple tasks like web browsing feel more responsive with lower latency. I hear the people behind 5G are aiming for 1ms latency! Is that even theoretically possible? Anyway, I guess they must think peoples’ time is valuable enough to make it worth getting the numbers down.

  2. Avatar John says:

    the tester never seems to work right for me so cant trust those stats sorry

    1. Avatar Dumb argument says:

      A useless workman always blames the tools.

  3. Avatar David Torrens says:

    I find it odd that the comparisons are not split up between the different types of connection. Surely one should try to see if it makes a difference which ISP one uses to connect to the world via , for example , the same Openreach FTTC box at the top of my street and on the same type of connection. I suspect that the differences are tiny for the same type of connection.
    What the tabes above would seem to be showing is average speeds of a mix of fibre and non fibre connections.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      You can find some data on that via the source, TBB. We don’t however have such a split for all of the listed ISPs. We also need to keep the results consistent with the same methodology between the years. Future updates may contain more detail on this, depending upon how much data is available to use.

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