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H1 2018 – Top 10 Fastest National UK Broadband and Mobile ISPs

Monday, June 25th, 2018 (12:01 am) - Score 47,322

The first six months of 2018 recorded another rise in average fixed home broadband download speeds to 33.29Mbps (7.82Mbps upload) among the top 10 ISPs, which continues to be fuelled by the rising adoption of faster FTTC, FTTP and Cable lines. Average mobile data speeds also hit 18.87Mbps (5.02Mbps upload).

Service speeds tend to increase for several reasons, with two of the biggest factors reflecting the impact of increased coverage by faster connectivity technologies and associated take-up by consumers. As such it’s important to note that fixed line “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) connections have increased their coverage from around 93% of UK premises one year ago to 95%+ now.

On top of that there’s been a rapid increase in the coverage of “ultrafast broadband” (100Mbps+) and Gigabit (1Gbps+) capable “full fibre” (FTTH/P/B) networks. According to Ofcom’s Spring 2018 update (here), ultrafast lines are now available to 45% of premises across the United Kingdom (up from 36% a year ago).

Most of the above improvement in “ultrafast” has been due to Virgin Media’s 350Mbps capable cable network, although “full fibre” networks have also grown to reach around 1.2 million premises (4%) and Openreach’s (BT) new 330Mbps capable hybrid fibre G.fast technology has just covered 1 million premises (G.fast is predicted to cover 10 million by the end of 2020). But there will be some overlap between all of these networks.

Similarly the coverage of faster 4G based mobile networks has also continued to improve, although Ofcom’s annual Connected Nations 2017 report stated that the outdoor geographic coverage by all operators is a pitiful 57% (up from 43% a year ago). However it should be noted that EE alone claims to already cover 90% of the country’s landmass and 4G population coverage by all operators is around 98%.

Caveats of the data

When looking at fixed lines it’s important to state that every home is different and speed can be affected by all sorts of issues, such as network congestion and the fact that a lot of consumers will conduct tests via slower WiFi rather than faster wired links. Many other issues may also be beyond the provider’s ability to control, such as poor home wiring and the customer’s choice of package (speed tier) etc.

Similarly mobile signals are highly variable due to the constantly changing environment as end-users move around, as well as any differences in the capabilities of hardware (Smartphones etc.) or the spectrum bands being used by Mobile Network Operators (MNO).

Suffice to say that we do not consider the below data to be a reliable barometer for individual users, but it can help to highlight general changes in the market. Overall the ever expanding reach of faster networks and take-up means that we will be seeing a general upward curve as consumers adopt ever faster services.

The Fastest UK Fixed Line Broadband ISPs (H1 2018)

The following results use data extracted from Thinkbroadband‘s database (including our Broadband Speedtest) and we only include independent providers with strong national availability. We would like to fully cover smaller alternative network (altnet) ISPs but they tend not to produce much data and aren’t available to the vast majority of premises, although we do show a few examples from the fastest altnets below the main table.

Take note that the 4-5 slowest ISPs usually have a higher proportion of users on slower copper ADSL lines and this suppresses their standing. So please take such results with a pinch of salt because the market is a lot more complicated than speedtest based data like this can possibly show. We also include an extra result to reveal the fastest 10% of connections at each ISP, which adds some useful context.

NOTE: The top 10% result, shown below (inside brackets), represents the download speed experienced by the fastest 10% of customers on each ISP. The results are in ‘Megabits per second’ and the averages are ‘mean’.

Average Download Speeds – Top 10

No. Operator 2018 H1 (Top 10%) 2017 H2 (Top 10%) Change %
1. Virgin Media 65.3Mbps (128.4Mbps) 62.1Mbps (129.5Mbps) 5.15%
2. AAISP 56.5Mbps (74.6Mbps) 38.2Mbps (72.8Mbps) 47.91%
3. iDNET 37.3Mbps (71.1Mbps) 31.9Mbps (68.2Mbps) 16.93%
4. Zen Internet 36.9Mbps (73.4Mbps) 31.4Mbps (68.5Mbps) 17.52%
5. Vodafone 29.6Mbps (54.8Mbps) 25.1Mbps (43.9Mbps) 17.93%
6. BT 29.5Mbps (62.7Mbps) 27.9Mbps (62.3Mbps) 5.73%
7. Plusnet 23.6Mbps (51.5Mbps) 21.6Mbps (45.2Mbps) 9.26%
8. EE 19.7Mbps (39.3Mbps) 16.9Mbps (36.2Mbps) 16.57%
9. TalkTalk 17.7Mbps (37.3Mbps) 16.6Mbps (36.9Mbps) 6.63%
10. Sky Broadband 16.8Mbps (34.8Mbps) 16.1Mbps (35.1Mbps) 4.35%

Average Upload Speeds – Top 10

No. Operator 2018 H1 2017 H2 Change %
1. AAISP 16.7Mbps 10Mbps 67%
2. iDNET 11.1Mbps 8.1Mbps 37.04%
3. Zen Internet 9.6Mbps 8Mbps 20%
4. Virgin Media 9.3Mbps 7.4Mbps 25.68%
5. Vodafone 7.3Mbps 6.6Mbps 10.61%
6. BT 6.9Mbps 6.6Mbps 4.55%
7. Plusnet 5.2Mbps 3.9Mbps 33.33%
8. EE 4.5Mbps 3.7Mbps 21.62%
9. TalkTalk 3.9Mbps 3.7Mbps 5.41%
10. Sky Broadband 3.7Mbps 3.5Mbps 5.71%

Overall the average download speed of the top ten national providers was 33.29Mbps (up from 28.78Mbps at the end of 2017) and the average upload speed hit 7.82Mbps (up from 6.15Mbps). Overall not much has changed since the last update, other than the broadly upward performance trend.

In terms of performance, Virgin Media naturally remains the fastest widely available national operator for downloads, which is thanks to the strength of their cable (DOCSIS) network that can in theory deliver ultrafast broadband to around half of UK premises. But their network is weaker when it comes to upload performance, which can often be bested by some of the cheaper FTTC packages on Openreach’s network.

The biggest speed increase over the period was recorded by AAISP, although we’d take this with a pinch of salt because they’re also the smallest ISP in the table and so it doesn’t take much for their position to fluctuate.

Now flick over to page 2 to see how the fastest fixed line alternative network providers and mobile operators performed.

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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
2 Responses
  1. Rob Bunn says:

    Kc lightstream leaves them all behind 250 mbps Choo Choo

  2. PHIL says:

    Yeah lightstream pisses on most if not all for speeds and they just keel getting faster

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