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The 2017 vs 2016 Top Fastest UK Home Broadband and Mobile Providers

Thursday, December 28th, 2017 (12:04 am) - Score 7,433
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Over the next few years we’re expecting to see a steady surge in performance as Virgin expands their network to reach 60-65% of the UK and adopts the Gigabit capable DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade. Similarly Openreach intends to roll-out more Gigabit capable FTTP and 160-330Mbps G.fast across most of the UK by 2025, which should eventually boost ISPs that use their network.

At this point it’s worth taking a look at how smaller alternative network (altnet) providers compare with the mainstream national ISPs. Sadly most altnets only have a comparatively niche level of network coverage and sample speedtest data, which means that we can’t offer a very comprehensive list but we can show a few of the larger or more familiar players.

Altnets by Average Speed (2017 vs 2016)

ISP 2017 Download Result (2016) 2017 Upload Result (2016)
2017 Top 10% Down (2016)
Hyperoptic 94.9Mbps (78.9Mbps) 84.8Mbps (66.4Mbps) 184Mbps (171Mbps)
B4RN 85.1Mbps (no data) 77.1Mbps (no data) 286.1Mbps (no data)
Gigaclear 56.3Mbps (64.4Mbps) 50.6Mbps (62.5Mbps) 102.5Mbps (104.8Mbps)
KCOM 50.1Mbps (32.1Mbps) 15.1Mbps (8.6Mbps) 109.1Mbps (80.1Mbps)

NOTE: The 2016 results are in brackets above.

All of the above providers use ultrafast FTTP technology, although you’ll note that the results don’t reflect the Gigabit (1000Mbps) style capability of their optical fibre networks and there are several reasons for that. Firstly, not everybody chooses the fastest package offered by each ISP (the slowest tier from Hyperoptic is 30Mbps and likewise 50Mbps at Gigaclear).

On top of that it’s also much more challenging to get accurate speedtests of 1Gbps FTTP services (assuming that is the package tier being taken) because they can easily be impacted by the limitations of other technologies (e.g. slow WiFi or older Ethernet standards) and the testing server itself, which is something that a lot of people overlook.

Likewise KCOM may have a large FTTP network, although their top residential speed is 250Mbps and many of their customers are still using much slower ADSL2+ services or a little FTTC. Once again all of these factors combine to drag down the performance.

The Top Fastest Mobile Network Operators

The fastest Mobile Network Operator (MNO) is usually the one that has both the best 4G coverage and owns the most radio spectrum (i.e. LTE-Advanced based 4G technologies can deliver faster speeds by harnessing multiple spectrum bands), which unsurprisingly means that EE continues to top the table. The operator has benefited from nearly a year’s head-start on their 4G roll-out but rivals are catching up.

Nevertheless EE is currently the only operator to have pledged to achieve UK geographic (landmass) 4G coverage of 95% by the end of 2020, which should enable them to retain their performance lead for a little while longer. However more radio spectrum is now coming up for auction and the balance of power may eventually end up swinging in favour of a different operator.

NOTE: We didn’t track the top 10% result in 2016.

Average Download Speeds

No. Operator 2017 (Top 10%)
2016
Change
1. EE 26.5Mbps (56.4Mbps) 27.4Mbps -3.28%
2. Vodafone 19.2Mbps (44.1Mbps) 16.3Mbps 17.79%
3. Three UK 16.5Mbps (40.4Mbps) 14.4Mbps tied 14.58%
4. O2 14.4Mbps (31.1Mbps) 14.4Mbps tied 0%

Average Upload Speeds

No. Operator 2017
2016
Change
1. EE 6.5Mbps 5.3Mbps 3.17%
2. Three UK 5Mbps 3.7Mbps 35.14%
3. O2 4.4Mbps 3.1Mbps 41.94%
4. Vodafone 4.1Mbps 3.5Mbps 17.14%

Overall the average download speed of the top four mobile operators was 19.15Mbps (up from 18.12Mbps at the end of 2016) and the average upload speed hit 5Mbps (up from 3.9Mbps). Just remember that Mobile services are particularly subject to the daily movements and radically differing hardware choices (Smartphones etc.) of end-users, which makes it especially difficult to establish a reliable picture of performance.

However we suspect that EE’s largely unchanged download performance may well reflect the maturity of their network coverage, which can now cover around 98-99% of the UK population. By comparison O2, Vodafone and Three UK are still playing catch-up and thus they continue to have more locations where only 3G is available.

NOTE: 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 2017 result instead of the 2016 score; this reflects the fact that we tend to do biannual reports on service speed.

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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.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar Paul.

    Something looks wrong with the Vodafone upload numbers. They can’t be slower this year yet have a +ve change.

  2. Avatar Neil Kean

    I signed up with SSE in november 2016 on any 18 month control and speed has never dropped below 70Mbps download and 20Mbps upload and all for £21 per month including line rental and calls. Only everything had excellent service with peak time drops of speed.

  3. Avatar Neil Kean

    Bloody predictive text!!
    I signed up with SSE in november 2016 on an 18 month control and speed has never dropped below 70Mbps download and 20Mbps upload and all for £21 per month including line rental and calls. Only ever had excellent service with no peak time drops of speed.

  4. Avatar Wujek Paweł

    Can’t see any difference in upload speed on my Vodafone line. Still 8.5Mbit/s as it was 8 months ago.

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