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Ofcom and SamKnows Expand UK Broadband ISP Speed Investigation

Posted: 25th Feb, 2010 By: MarkJ
uk broadband speedsOfcom and Samknows UK, its appointed technical Partner for broadband performance testing, have today announced plans to conduct further research into UK fixed-line broadband ISP speeds. Ofcom's previous 2009 report revealed that the average speed in April last year was 4.1Mbps (here).

Ofcom has now extended its contract with SamKnows until April 2012, which will allow it to monitor and analyse the performance of various fixed-line broadband services delivered to UK residential customers. They intend to be up and running by April of this year. But to do this they need your help.

SamKnows has developed a ‘White Box’ (modified router) that sits in the consumer’s home, which does not monitor the home network or web traffic, but solely focuses on the relevant ISP’s network. People who volunteer for this project will be given access to their own data so that they can track the performance of their broadband connection.

Alex Salter, CEO of SamKnows, commented:

"What started out as a project to monitor and report on the UK’s broadband connectivity in general, it instead highlighted that a clear discrepancy exists between what the ISPs are saying and what the end consumer is actually receiving.

What we’re looking to measure in the forthcoming project is how this ISP performance will improve as consumers switch to services which are being advertised as significantly faster."

Most recently SamKnows has found that speeds remain unchanged at between 3Mbps and 4.5Mbps for the majority of UK consumers. This is consistent with the performance reported by Ofcom last year and would suggest that there has been little improvement since April 2009.

It should be stated that last April's results received some flak because the published data only included the largest ISPs, almost completing ignoring smaller and often faster providers. Ofcom intends to concentrate on the same big 9 or 10 providers again this time.

However Samknows informs us that they intend to include every provider which has signed up to Ofcom's Voluntary Code of Conduct on broadband speed. It remains to be seen whether the data Ofcom chooses to publish will include this.
The sign-up form for volunteers is here:
http://www.samknows.com/broadband/pm/signup.html
Take note that the testing system can eat up a GigaByte or two of data, thus anybody with a small fixed usage allowance should probably avoid this.
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