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Ofcom to Stop Publishing UK Home Broadband ISP Speeds Study

Thursday, Jun 1st, 2023 (12:55 pm) - Score 3,240

The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has today proposed to stop publishing its annual summary of fixed line home broadband ISP speeds after the next report is released later this year (due Q4 2023). Mainly because they deem that it’s no longer needed as the market has changed.

Ofcom’s most recent report, which was based on data gathered from both custom modified routers and ISP supplied routers with special software onboard, was published in October 2022 (here). The report revealed that the average (median) UK download rate had risen from 50.4Mbps last year to 59.4Mbps now (uploads went from 9.8Mbps to 10.7Mbps), but it could only really reflect data from the market’s largest providers.

The regulator notes that their research was originally designed to provide consumers with accurate information regarding the real-world connection speeds that different broadband services provided. But since then, changes in the rules around the use of connection speeds in the advertising of broadband services, and the introduction of their Voluntary Residential Code of Practice on Broadband Speeds (this is only supported by the main providers), means that “consumers now have access to accurate speed information during the purchase process.”

In fairness, it’s not correct to suggest that all consumers now have access to accurate speed information, as we still see plenty of ISPs (often smaller players) that play fast and loose with the rules – partly because neither Ofcom nor the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have been particularly proactive at enforcing the rules. Meanwhile, consumers don’t always realise when ISPs aren’t playing by the rules and so don’t report them.

Nevertheless, it is fair to say that Ofcom’s report doesn’t really do a good job of reflecting the diversity of connections and packages that exist in today’s market and so, if it can’t be re-structured, should instead be retired. Ofcom are now consulting upon their proposal to discontinue the reports after the next one is published. Feedback on this is open until 13th July 2023.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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28 Responses
  1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

    Excellent. Waste of taxpayers’ money collecting and publishing this at all. I’m not aware of anyone benefiting from it.

    1. Avatar photo Jack says:

      This is merely a cut so that they can instead spend resources censoring speech for the government

    2. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      That’s quite a leap, Jack, but whatever does it for you.

    3. Avatar photo Jack says:

      It would be pretty naive to believe that the taxpayer just gets a refund rather than then money spent elsewhere. There is no incentive to actually save money for taxpayer

    4. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      No-one besides yourself said anything about a refund, Jack.

    5. Avatar photo Amos says:

      He’s sauced up on “Top 10 UK Government Conspiracy Theories”

    6. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Ofcom, like all other “arms length bodies” masquerade as independent administrators of regulation. In reality they are under very close government control, both because policy is set by DCMS, and more so because Ofcom’s board is directly appointed by the minister. If Ofcom are doing something that government don’t like, a quick Whatsapp to their stooges, a quiet conversation in Ofcom’s palatial offices at Riverside, Southwark and things change.

      So, given that we have a wastrel government that has no desire to reduce public spending, or to spend money wisely, the question is why stop tracking internet speeds? The savings are inconsequential in Ofcom’s bloated budget, and in the wider world of frittered taxpayers money even more so. And the answer is because over the next few years these numbers will increasingly embarrass government as speeds remain resolutely low even as billions are spent pushing FTTP and Project Gigabit. It was a manifesto commitment by the current government to offer nationwide gigabit broadband by 2025. That target’s been watered down several times, but it’ll still be something they’ll want to be shouting about as an achievement come the end of 2024, if this government survives that long. And if the Ofcom numbers clearly indicate that people aren’t really taking up gigabit (or even x00 Mbps) speeds, then that’s hugely embarrassing.

      Many people in this forum are keen on gigabit speeds because we have particular interests, knowledge and needs. Out there in the real world, the population don’t give a stuff, and are more concerned about stretching their budgets to cover the stuff they need. If it weren’t for the giveaway prices from various altnets, and the clever package marketing by Virgin Media, even existing uptake of gigabit speeds would be a fraction of the low number we see now. So the last thing government want is evidence that people couldn’t give a stuff about this flagship policy.

    7. Avatar photo Jack says:

      You mentioned “waste of taxpayer money and that I was taking a big leap”, I replied with “it will be wasted even more, because there is no incentive to save taxpayer money”

      Ofcom is an enforcer working for the state, not the people. It makes sense that they stop reporting a metric that makes the state look bad like gig uptake

    8. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Jack: “Ofcom is an enforcer working for the state, not the people.”

      That’s how democracy works in the UK. You vote for a government, based on a non-contractual manifesto. The leader then hands out ministerial positions purely on the basis of grace and favour, and can change them on a whim. The elected members of the government can change their leader from the party leader who led at the time of the election if they act together, without reference to the population. The resultant governing cabal then do largely what suits them at the time, often with total disregard to their manifesto (although to be fair, the vast majority of voters don’t read manifestos), and certainly with little care for the national interest. Ministers make all policy decisions, the civil service and regulators administer those policies and regulations, regardless of whether the policies are good or bad, and regardless of their own political views. Policy making involves consultations by civil service advisors that most people don’t respond to, so business has a disproportionate voice, and once the policy advisors have done their consulting and analysed the options there’s no certainty the minster will listen, especially if the governing party are returning favours to some billionaire who’s bankrolled them, or the owner of a third rate newspaper that acts as a political pamphlet. Also, likely-to-be-unpopular decisions have consultations and cost benefit analysis done in a loaded way to get the answer the politicians want – eg for HS2. Civil servants are accountable to the relevant minister, arms length bodies like Ofcom are accountable to Parliament, with notable ministerial involvement. Some ministers are actually pretty tuned in (some of the less ambitious junior ministers who’ve got some real world experience can be very good), but as you’ll notice, the top tier are all charlatans solely interested in jockeying for position, or milking the system for their own interests, and ministers spend far too much time meeting pressure groups, lobbyists and vested interest groups rather than getting to grips with the important details of their portfolio.

      In theory His Majesty’s Official Opposition are there to hold the government to account, as are the House of Lords, you may be the judge of how well that works.

    9. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Or more transparently you’re still upset over Ofcom finding against GB News and, specifically, the Mark Steyn programme a couple of times after it published some pretty fruity stuff on CoViD vaccines leading to him leaving the channel.

      The reason why it happened has been covered in a post above. We do not and for the average ‘subject’ have never had unfettered free speech here. Broadcasting licences come with extensive conditions and broadcasters should ensure their presenters and staff adhere to them else not broadcast on UK TV.

      Ofcom clearly aren’t that interested in enforcement: they allow GB News to sit on an allocation in the channel plan that’s for a news channel, even have the word in their name while simultaneously claiming not to be a news channel when it comes to why they seem to have more Tory MPs on their payroll than the Rishi Sunak has in his cabinet and how this is usually a no-no for news channels.

    10. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

      Anon “That’s how democracy works in the UK. You vote for a government, based on a non-contractual manifesto.”

      Don’t sound like any type of democracy to me.

  2. Avatar photo Shreyas says:

    @Mark – Not related to the article but can we please not have overly intrusive advertising on the site with auto video playback and the like. It is a massive turn off on otherwise very informative site.

    1. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

      @Shrey – It’s most likely because of funding, as the auto video playback will provide money even if it is somewhat intrusive for the user.

    2. Avatar photo Amos says:

      Agreed. I only enable Adblock for sites that warrant it. And this site does.

    3. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      Well, the site is a commercial site, they need to earn a crust. Whilst my hands are not clean in this argument since I’ve taken control of such matters into my own hands, COMPLAINING about advertising seems unreasonable to me.

      If you don’t want to run adblockers that can and do break some sites, then contact Mark and explain your ad-free subscription based business model for ISP Review to him, perhaps?

    4. Avatar photo Lexx says:

      This site inserts overlay ads on mobile (mainly why I use egde as my default browser for opening pages as you can enable the adblocker in it, most websites I go onto look like a mess without it especially on mobile nearly unusable)

    5. Avatar photo AQX says:

      Chrome and Firefox have a feature which stops auto playing videos, enable that feature in the settings(chrome may require you to go into flags) and you shouldn’t have this problem.

  3. Avatar photo Hugh O'Connor says:

    So it would appear that because they can’t do somerhing properly they don’t want to fo it all.

    If you apply this to all government departments and associated bodies, they would all disappear overnight!

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Hugh O’Connor: “If you apply this to all government departments and associated bodies, they would all disappear overnight!”

      There’s a Daily Mail comment if ever I read one. I’ve spent the bulk of my long career working for large private sector companies, mostly in senior strategy roles, and I’m pretty much a right winger when it comes to politics. Over the past few years I’ve worked in a similar capacity for the Civil Service, and I can assure you that the private sector is every bit as prone to the basic incompetence, inefficiency, graft, huge screwups, and misguided investment that I suspect you’d attribute to the public sector. The big difference is that the private sector are much better at hiding it.

      Ofcom may have overseen a lot of poor industry performance, but they aren’t the ones who make policy (that’s the executive branch of government, specifically politicians), and their budget is about seven quid per household per year if attributed solely to households, to regulate broadcasting, online media, mobile and fixed line infrastructure, post and all RF spectrum affairs. Some basic maths indicates that costs of Ofcom regulation are about 0.2% of the total value of all those different activities, and in that context it’s a marvel they achieve anything.

    2. Avatar photo John says:

      Verifiably false.

      In private, people get FIRED for bad performance, companies have a fiduciary duty to keep up performance

      In public, not only people can hire to slack off, they often get promoted out of loyalty. They fail upwards at the taxpayers expense because even councils go bankrupt and get bailed out. The failed Portuguese president Antonio Guterres instead of being locked up for being a corrupt crook, he got promoted to United Nations leader

    3. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      People get fired for poor performance in the private sector? Hhahahahahahahaa! You know nothing.

      Last private sector outfit I worked for spent £250m on a fairly basic CRM to support 4m customers, and it failed spectacularly, they had to start again from scratch, spending a further £400m and incurring further costs (regulator sanctions, customer losses, adjudicator payouts, bad debt costs, additional staffing) of around £300m. You know who got sacked? No one. Board members left when it suited and on golden handshakes and NDAs, some are enjoying generous final salary pensions from an early age others have wafted into board level positions with other companies. Another outfit I worked for spent half a billion quid on acquisitions in the US, failed to grow those or integrate them, and had to sell the lot for around £50m. You know who got sacked? No one. Same story of wheelbarrows of cash and early retirements. Another tale, a company I worked for diddled their figures to the regulator to pretend they were doing stuff they were being paid to do but hadn’t. They got fined several tens of millions. SFO investigated and concluded there was a case but “prosecution not in the public interest”, result, no sackings, just early retirements, golden handshakes. Another company sold a major division for £4bn, and only afterwards realised that it was worth at least half as much again when the new owner sold it on; £2bn of investors money up in smoke, who got punished…you know already. I could go on, but why bother? I was there, I’ve seen it from the inside. You’d instantly recognise the names of all of the companies concerned, chances are you’ve been a customer and you’ve unknowingly paid for failure and rewarded those accountable.

  4. Avatar photo John says:

    Your own anecdotal experience does not erase centuries of businesses that went bust because they did not perform

    You only prove that some companies get away with staff performing badly. I could just as well point you to the disgruntled Burger King waiter who hates you for you making him work. The vast majorities of unsustainable businesses go bust and that’s an actual advantage that private has over public

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Spoken like a complete Rees-Mogg.

    2. Avatar photo John says:

      “I am a right winger” then proceeds to use Rees Mogg as an insult. You are a leftist

    3. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      Plenty of folks on the right are happy to use Rees-mogg as an insult. He and his opinions are ludicrous to people across the political spectrum.

      His gross simplification and misunderstanding of facts and evidence to suit his own predisposition and prejudices as his book bears witness to are anthema to many.

      His haughty, arrogant attitude when made a member of the front bench combined with his cavalier attitude towards the truth and how happily he lied to the Queen make him worthy of disdain in my opinion regardless of political persuasion. Much as Johnson appeals to some across the spectrum and draws disdain across the board same goes for Rees-Mogg.

      He was called the honorable member for the 18th/19th century by many folks on his side of the aisle. That wasn’t a compliment.

    4. Avatar photo Patrick says:

      Which Rees Mogg opinions are ludicrous?

      He has debated and handedly won against many opponents in his weekly show. Not many MPs have the courage to do a fraction of the debates without severe embarrassment

      I mean your labour and lib leaders both struggle in knowing what a woman is. If they can’t even get that right then they can’t be trusted with anything else

  5. Avatar photo Buggerlugz says:

    Good. OFCOM only publishes (and does) exactly what the government wants them too anyway. Can’t believe a word they say as they have as much credibility as the government itself.

    1. Avatar photo XGS Is On says:

      That’s their job?

Comments are closed

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