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Study – 90% of UK Broadband Lines Fast Enough for Home Working

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 (3:27 pm) - Score 2,747
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New crowd-sourced based research from benchmarking firm umlaut (formerly P3) has claimed that more than 90% of the UK’s active fixed broadband ISP lines deliver internet connection speeds that “meet the challenges of working from home,” at least with respect to the narrow scope of video conferencing apps.

The company reached its conclusions after collecting 70 million+ samples (e.g. connection tests) from more than 345,000 broadband lines (conducted between 1st March and 31st May 2020). The research then considered those results against its belief that, by default, video conferences usually take place in HD quality video (1.5Mbps) or so-called HQHD quality (3Mbps).

NOTE: SD = Standard Definition, HD = High Definition and UHD = Ultra HD. We’ve assumed HQHD = High Quality HD.

Sadly umlaut doesn’t clearly define what it means by SD (0.6Mbps), HD (1.5Mbps), HGHD (3Mbps) and UHD (15Mbps) video quality, but from those speeds we can perhaps reasonably assume that they meant to say 480p, 720p, 1080p and 4K resolutions respectively.

Nevertheless, the company reported that 56.6% of broadband lines across the United Kingdom could achieve UHD, while 91.5% could do HGHD, 96.1% seemed able to handle HD and some 99% were able to manage SD. But the picture does tend to vary a bit by region, although they seem to have overlooked upload speed, which is rather important for video calls.

umlaut_uk_broadband_video_requirements

Only, when video platforms are used in addition to other applications when working from home, there are some restrictions. However, problems with the connection can be often traced back to shared connections or the terminal device [router] itself. Also, no obvious differences between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland could be identified,” said the report.

Hakan Ekmen, CEO of umlaut Telecommunication, said:

“Overall, the results of our crowd-based evaluation of fixed lines in the UK are encouraging. More than 90 percent of the lines in the UK have easily met the challenges of working from home. We only see restrictions when video platforms with UHD streaming are used in addition to video conferencing.”

As usual we have spotted a few big caveats to this report, such as the fact that it’s looking at broadband by adoption rather than the availability of potentially faster networks or packages. Just to put that into some quick context, over 96% of UK premises should be able to access a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+ download) network (here), but at the same time a little under a third of consumers still take slower ADSL lines and uploads are often much weaker than the downstream rate.

Likewise, the use of crowdsourced data can be a bit of a mixed bag, particularly since umlaut tends to rely on background diagnosis testing that can be conducted via hundreds of different Smartphone apps (Android). As a result, there’s no easy way to know how much of an impact various issues, such as any limitations of the mobile device itself or slow WiFi speeds, have had vs a proper wired connection to the broadband router.

Equally there’s no consideration for more variable factors, such as the possibility of local network congestion (likely to be more of a problem in a busy family environment) or the fact that video conferencing isn’t the only work-related task. Some businesses, such as media and graphic design firms, will have much bigger demands for remote working connections than a vanilla office job.

In short, this survey doesn’t actually tell us all that much, so take it with a pinch of salt.

Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. Avatar Ryan

    “Only, when video platforms are used in addition to other applications when working from home, there are some restrictions. However, problems with the connection can be often traced back to shared connections or the terminal device [router] itself.

    So in other words people living on their own but if anyone else dares to use Netflix or iplayer then the 90% is nonsense?

    I am WFH generally it’s fine but with 3mbp upload we schedule video call time otherwise it grinds to a halt.

  2. Avatar JP

    Seems like a waste of text!

  3. Avatar Zoomer

    A Zoom call here says it’s using 1M/1M over a 80/20 connection.

  4. Avatar TrueFibre

    I find this hilarious because with FTTC VDSL2 I mean don’t get me wrong the speeds are fantastic. The only 2 problems I have against the FTTC Network number its Copper line from the fibre cabinet it’s not really reliable. Number 2 it has awful Dynamic Line Management DLM depending on certain circumstances it can reduce line speed in favour of Stability and reliability. There has been time I have requested a profile reset.

    • Avatar be77y

      I don’t agree with either point here personally:
      1) how does copper from the cabinet make it unreliable? I mean, obviously FTTP is preferable but significantly more expensive – hence the trade-off until relatively recently with more market pressure towards FTTP
      2) The whole point of DLM is to find the best speed/stability trade-off. If you’ve found lines to be profiled down then they are unreliable lines; DLM is doing its job properly!

  5. Avatar TrueFibre

    I find this hilarious because with the FTTC VDSL2 Network I mean don’t get me wrong the speeds are fantastic. The only 2 problems I have against the FTTC Network number 1 its a Copper line from the fibre cabinet it’s not really reliable. Number 2 it has awful Dynamic Line Management DLM depending on certain circumstances it can reduce line speed in favour of Stability and reliability. There has been times I have had to requested a profile reset from my ISP.

    Sorry for the typo

  6. Avatar 5G_Infinity

    HD quality video (1.5Mbps) or so-called HQHD quality (3Mbps)

    HD on a 1080p display, ie TV is 8Mbps not 3Mbps.

  7. Avatar Dan Spurr

    Was this study paid for by BT.

    “See It’s good enough, Now quit moaning while I charge you for stuff you don’t need or want.” – BT to anybody wanting faster broadband.

    • Avatar TrueFibre

      Well I do agree Dan for example 500 Mbps for 1 person. That 1 person could do with 52 Mbps or 76 Mbps or even a 100 Mbps. I think Openreach should of installed the FTTC Fibre Cabinet a little closer to the streets or even in the middle of the street that way you will have much lower latently much more stable connection. Like me for example my street Fibre cabinet is near the main road I mean I can’t complain really I get a good 79/20 so I am happy. But if Openreach installed it in the middle of the street Openreach can afford to give you 100 Mbps. I read on Google about the FTTC VDSL2 Network the reason it’s capped at 80/20 it’s more for stability. I mean they can do it they have the technology they can upgrade to G.INP Vectoring or Super-Vectoring 35b.

    • Avatar JP

      @truefibre – hour forgetting that cabinets don’t serve street’s they serve areas, so hour model as hou describe it is exactly whst they do, putting the DSLAM in at the centre cresting equal lengths to it.

      Also profile 35B, isn’t that basically what g.fast is?

    • Avatar TrueFibre

      Yes JP a Super vectoring line and nearly has the same speed of 300 Mbps + but where the difference is 35B uses VDSL2 where G.Fast uses much higher frequency at 106 MHz to 212 MHz and Super-vectoring uses 35 MHz.

    • Avatar Gary

      @JP, Cabinets serving areas is the reason we have so many poor connections, what was fine for phonelines doesn’t work that well for FTTC due to the range issue.

      Openreach being unwilling to re route connections to closer cabs hasn’t helped either but I can understand the refusal the cost would be huge with no return on investment really.

  8. Avatar Gregory Berry

    In the middle of a fairly large town, and I can only get 20mbps download, as I’m at the end of the cabinet line. If anyone else is doing anything on the internet in the house, trying to remotely support customers is a nightmare!

    • Avatar TrueFibre

      It also depends on quality of the line and length. The really old line are aluminium not copper but it has to be a really old line. I think it was the 80s they started using copper.

    • Avatar Gregory Berry

      ~TrueFibre

      Yes, its a 50’s house so probably aluminium unfortunately.

  9. Avatar Kssign

    Not sure of this is unbiased reports plus these types of reports undermine the desire and needs of household who aren’t desperate need of faster broadband, for example despite of having fibre to cabinet I get minimum guaranteed 11mbps which is itself a shame in fibre buzz word and because it has fibre until cabinet ISP and openreach thinks their job is done and these types of reports ‘96%’ has faster broadband seriously damage the hope of people who are wishing for FTTP

  10. Avatar Tom

    I working in video games deal with large asset collections. What i desperately need for home working is better UPLOAD. Why is BT or Virgin not offering a slower synchronous package for home workers? I would be entirely happy with 100/60ish, and would pay the 300/30 price for it…

    Sadly all i can get is 20/2 which uploading a full Bluray image on would take 2-3 days…

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      I’m in a similar situation. Upload and latency are more important to me than very fast download (ideally both need to be 20Mbps+). 4G gives me ~24Mbps upload, but latency is somewhat variable. I’ve given up on fixed line as the only option is USO level ADSL2+.

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