Ofcom shows Virgin Media is more super slow than “superfast” on upload speed


UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, released new research (PDF) today showing average UK broadband speeds across various ISPs. The comprehensive document gives clear insight into the positive direction of infrastructure.

Virgin Media, as expected, led download speeds with their “superfast” fibre offerings averaging above their advertised speeds. When it comes to upload, however, the speed is more super slow…

Upload speeds are becoming vital for both consumers and businesses alike, and in many cases, more important than download. It dictates how fast you can share a file, the quality of your video chats, and affects your gameplay when online gaming.

The average upload speed by FTTC (Fibre-to-the-Cabinet) providers such as BT, TalkTalk, and Plusnet for “up to 76mb [download]” packages is 17.4mbps. Virgin Media’s closest package (for comparison purposes) is their “up to 60mb [download]” package which delivers 3.1mbps… a 14.3mbps differential.

In fact, Virgin Media’s top “up to 120mb [download]” package still offers below FTTC providers with its 11.4mbps upload speed.

TelecomsTech reached out to a Virgin Media spokesperson about the results to this response: “We know our customers look at download speeds first – it’s what gives Virgin Media households the ability to stream and download media content.

We make sure our upload speeds are matching what our customers need and helping them do what they want at home; but it’s our download speeds that really drive that unbeatable experience.”

After experiencing frustratingly slow uploads as a customer of Virgin Media, TelecomsTech pushed in the call to see if any plans are in place to improve the service in this area.

The spokesperson said: “We’re always looking at ways of making our services faster and more suited to our customers’ needs. At the moment, they are very much giving our customers what they need and keeping us a step ahead of that increasing demand for more connectivity at home.”

On request, no timescale for improvements was available.

For other findings, in the UK the average download speed is now 17.8mbps – five times faster than when Ofcom first started publishing results in November 2008. The average urban download speed is 31.9Mbps, average suburban speed is 21.8Mbps, and the average rural speed is 11.3Mbps.

Virgin Media will be increasing its starter superfast broadband packages from 30Mbps to 50Mbps for free. The company achieves the fastest download speeds over a 24 hour period, and this upgrade will push it above the average download speed in urban areas.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Ofcom’s report confirms the remarkable transformation of UK Broadband currently underway. The UK has the best superfast coverage of all five leading European economies, and the news that average speeds continue to rise is tremendous news for homes and businesses alike.

We are working hard to close the digital divide between urban and rural locations and are investing £790m to ensure that 95% of the UK will have access to superfast speeds by 2017.”

But not everyone shares the Minister’s enthusiasm.

Boris Ivanovic, Chairman of Hyperoptic, says: “The frustration with these types of speed reports is that it makes the mediocre sound positive. If the UK wants to compete with the fastest growing economies of the world, then it needs to be reporting double digit growth in its broadband speeds, not a couple of Mbps.

“This also means looking beyond average speeds to highest speeds, enabled by FTTH/B. China and Japan currently have 37 million and 24.7 million FTTH/B subscribers. Thirteen countries in the EU have experienced growth greater than 30% in subscribers in the past year – France and Sweden now exceed 1.2 million FTTH/B subscribers each. The UK isn’t even figuring on FTTH/B rankings. It’s time that Britons challenged the status quo, these small increases are no longer worthy of celebration.”

Should Virgin Media put more of a focus on increasing their upload speed?

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