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H1 2019 – UK Top 10 Fastest National Broadband and Mobile ISPs

Monday, June 24th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 9,704
speed meter broadband download upload uk isp

As the first half of 2019 comes to an end we’ve taken a look back to see how average broadband download and upload speeds have changed across the top fastest national fixed line ISPs and 4G mobile operators. Overall the picture is one of gradual improvement, thanks to rising take-up of faster connections.

Consumer service speeds tend to increase for two primary reasons, a) the impact of increased coverage by faster connectivity technologies and, b) their associated take-up by consumers. In keeping with that the coverage of “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) capable fixed line networks (available to 96% of UK premises) and 4G mobile infrastructure (97-99% population coverage but only 67% geographic by all operators) is now slowly reaching maturity.

Meanwhile there has also been a rapid increase in the availability of “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) networks (available to 7% of UK premises), as well as Virgin Media’s DOCSIS (cable) infrastructure (available to around half of premises) and Openreach’s new “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) hybrid fibre G.fast technology.

In terms of take-up, Ofcom revealed that at the end of 2018 some 45% of live fixed line connections were now “superfast” services (up from 38% in 2017 and 31% in 2016 – here). We should point out that Virgin Media has recently launched a new 500Mbps top-tier (here), but early take-up of that won’t have much of an impact on the results below.

Data Caveats: Every home is different and speedtests are affected by all sorts of issues such as slow WiFi, limitations of the test itself, local network congestion and package choice (an ISP may offer 1Gbps but a lot of people will pick a slower / cheaper plan).

The Fastest Fixed Line Broadband ISPs (H1 2019)

In this list we only include independent providers with strong national availability. On the following page we’ll also take a closer look at the performance of the fastest alternative network (altnet) ISPs, which sadly tend not to produce much data and aren’t yet available to the vast majority of premises (i.e. we can only display a few of these due to limited data samples).

The results below are naturally also more reflective of take-up than network availability. For example, some ISPs may have a significantly larger portion of customers on slower pure copper ADSL lines (e.g. the slowest providers below), which will weigh against anybody on faster fibre optic or hybrid fibre lines with the same provider (pushing average speeds down).

The following data has been extracted from Thinkbroadband‘s independent database (including our Broadband Speedtest). Please take these results with a pinch of salt because the market is a lot more complicated than speedtest based data can show.

NOTE: The top 10% result (below in brackets) represents the speed experienced by the fastest 10% of users on each ISP. The results are in ‘Megabits per second’ and averages are in ‘mean’. Data was processed at the start of June 2019.

Average Download Speeds – Top 10

No. Operator 2019 H1 (Top 10%) 2018 H2 (Top 10%) Change %
1. Virgin Media 75.7Mbps (162Mbps) 69.4Mbps (142.2Mbps) +9.08%
2. AAISP 50.4Mbps (109.4Mbps) 55.1Mbps (74.3Mbps) -8.53%
3. Zen Internet 42.9Mbps (74.2Mbps) 39.7Mbps (73.4Mbps) +3.2%
4. iDNET 36.9Mbps (70.5Mbps) 36.5Mbps (70.8Mbps) +0.4%
5. Vodafone 33.2Mbps (59.9Mbps) 31.5Mbps (58.6Mbps) +5.4%
6. BT 33.1Mbps (65.2Mbps) 31.1Mbps (63Mbps) +6.43%
7. EE 24.4Mbps (50.8Mbps) 22.6Mbps (46Mbps) +7.96%
8. Plusnet 24.3Mbps (50.4Mbps) 23.8Mbps (50.5Mbps) +2.1%
9. Sky Broadband 23.9Mbps (50.5Mbps) 20.3Mbps (37.1Mbps) +17.73%
10. TalkTalk 22.6Mbps (43.1Mbps) 19.9Mbps (37.8Mbps) +13.57%

Average Upload Speeds – Top 10

No. Operator 2019 H1 2018 H2 Change %
1. AAISP 14.6Mbps 17.8Mbps -17.98%
2. Zen Internet 10.7Mbps 11Mbps -2.73%
3. Virgin Media 9.3Mbps 8Mbps +16.25%
4. Vodafone 9.2Mbps 7.9Mbps +16.46%
5. iDNET 8.6Mbps 8.4Mbps +2.38%
6. BT 8.1Mbps 7.2Mbps +12.5%
7. Sky Broadband 6Mbps 4.6Mbps +30.43%
8. EE 5.9Mbps 5.3Mbps +11.32%
9. Plusnet 5.5Mbps 5.2Mbps +5.77%
10. TalkTalk 5.3Mbps 4.5Mbps +17.78%

Overall the average download speed of the top ten national providers was 36.74Mbps (up from 34.99Mbps at the end of 2018) and the average upload speed hit 8.32Mbps (up from 7.99Mbps). Not a lot has changed over the past six months in terms of download performance, other than the gradual upward trend but even this is much reduced over our last report at the same time in 2018 (here).

The reason for this year’s milder improvement is likely to be because FTTC coverage has now reached maturity and many of those who wanted to upgrade will have already done so. Meanwhile the new generation of Gigabit capable “full fibre” networks are still suffering from a lack of wider ISP support and limited coverage, although their growth is starting to surge.

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

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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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19 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew Clark

    Lovely source of information, but it seems that you haven’t covered the state of local infrastructure. I live in the S44 6xx area, and the infrastructure here is shocking. It’s all aluminium cable with non waterproof joints. We have FTTC available, but real world performance is no better, and in some cases worse, than ADSL2+.

    It’s all well and good blowing the “98% availabilty of FTTC services” trumpet, but it’s painting a false picture.

    Until openreach invest in infrastructure, I’ll be sticking to ADSL2+.

    • The article said speeds of 24Mbps+ are currently available to 96% of UK premises, which is across all fixed broadband networks (not only FTTC). However if the FTTC in your area delivers below 24Mbps and this isn’t due to a problem within your home then you’re not part of that 96%. You’re in the 4%.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/E10000007 covers infrastructure and speeds seen from people in the area.

      Where superfast coverage is below the average at 95.5% but at a guess you are probably rural and for rural Derbyshire this drops to 89.3%.

  2. Avatar Simon Heather

    Shouldn’t AAISP download show a negative change % due to a decrease in speed?

  3. Avatar The Gurn

    Interesting data set. The point about geographic coverage needs exploring. Here in west Wales we are not well served by fixed line or mobile broadband. 5G has launched, but some operators only offer 3G on our local mast. There is no FTTP in our village and FTTC does not reach all cabinets (this is despite the millions of pounds of public money injected via the ‘Superfast Cymru’ project). So it’s ADSL2+ for many of us with no prospect of anything better for the foreseeable.

    • It’s worth noting that geographic coverage is only really relevant for mobile connectivity since fixed line services reflect targeted connections to properties, not wide area wireless signals like mobile.

  4. Avatar chris conder

    B4RN customers who do speedtests don’t use the thinkbroadband speedchecker, they use ookla app as it is more reliable than a browser test. Tests over 900 symmetrical on ethernet are commonplace, but as people tend to test mainly on wifi it lowers the average. Still very nice to see the altnets knocking spots off the incumbent though. Power to the people.

    • Avatar FibreBubble

      They clearly do use the Think Broadband tester otherwise Think Broadband would have no data to publish.

      I note that B4RN are showing deteriorating speeds on TB, really bad numbers, but fortunately the ‘quality score’ has improved. I wonder if there is a reason for that.

      It is possible that mounting losses rather than weak wifi is in play here.

  5. Avatar Martin

    LOL I get 0.7 mbps in 2019 i live in rural area

  6. Avatar Arran McDonald

    I think your list is off I have changed VDSL networks loads and went back to Vodafone as hands down fastest VDSL line I ever had here as i use a custom modem that syncs at 80 down 20up and average speed test never under 65mbps, also vodafone is the cheapest in my area now

    • Why would that make the list off? The scores are all mean averages from lots of different tests, lines and packages. It’s not off just because you’re a lucky one in the 99% percentile of those.

  7. Avatar CarlT

    That B4RN number is shocking. Is there something up with B4RN’s transit and peering?

    The Ookla numbers may flatter however they do I believe run their own server in Lancaster. All well and good however the end users want to use the wider Internet, not just a server in Lancaster, so off-net servers give a more representative value.

  8. Avatar Tom

    The thinkbroadband test site is very flawed. I’ve barely ever achieved more than 40% of my max speed compared to many other test sites and gaming patcher programs

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      Some say flawed but it is able run at Gigabit speeds

      https://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest/1559736900427166155
      https://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest/1561199498111451855

      Virgin Media M500
      https://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest/1559429076698027955

      Openreach 330 Mbps FTTP (Cornwall)
      https://www.thinkbroadband.com/speedtest/1559672944315505255

      Gaming patching programs are a classic example of using multiple hosts and many sources to overcome any individual peering issues at an ISP, as do a number of other testing sites. We have also seen other testers exceed the maximum speed possible across tested links by 25% so some are obviously doing some interesting maths.

      Is the tester I wrote and run always 100% correct, but there is invariably a reason for the slower speeds and there have been a number of cases of ISP saying the test is broken only for issues to grow and they admit to issues with their own network in a couple of weeks/months once the issue has become even more visible.

    • Avatar clive

      “The thinkbroadband test site is very flawed.”

      Agreed the TBB speed test is very flawed. To such an extent that when i run it on a BT FTTC connection i have, it will record between 50-62Mbps at best no matter what time of the day or night i run it (even stupid hours of 3 or 4am).

      If i download their test files at https://www.thinkbroadband.com/download though again at any time of the day or night that gives my true 70-75Mb speeds. Every other speedtester ive come across including the likes of speedof.me, speedtest.net and many others all also record my correct 70-75Mb.

      The TBB test also seems to give wild latency measures could be 10ms on one test and 60+ms on another seconds apart. Other speed tests its a constant figure (depending on which test, location etc you are running obviously).

      Has always been like it for me. Was like it on my old ADSL connection is like it on the BT FTTC connection i make reference to and a VM connection i also have. SO nope not my end unless every connection ive every had has something wrong.

    • Avatar Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry

      I wonder if they’re replying on speedtest servers being hosted within the ISP’s network, which conveniently means neither party has to pay for transfer, and the ISP doesn’t have to deal with external network quality?

  9. Avatar Hyperoptic

    As carriers of big data we enjoy a bit of analysis ourselves. However, this table is not representative of the top speeds our 1Gb customers receive. Hyperoptic’s 1Gb product has been consistently at the top of the Think Broadband speed tables this year and although we are passionate about delivering digital access to all, blending results from our best value entry level packages at 20/30Mb with incomparable data sets of customers on higher speed packages makes the rankings statistically invalid.

  10. Avatar Haroon Akhtar

    Hey I’ve been with virgin media for many many years while the download speeds are great they suck when it comes to gaming…. My sky broadband is supposed to be activated on the 9th Aug but I was wondering if it will be any better? I want to go with hyper optic but they are not available in my area

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