The Q2-2015 Top 7 UK Fastest National Home Broadband and Mobile ISPs - ISPreview UK
he second quarter has seen the average Internet download speed for the largest seven national home broadband ISPs increase from 24.72Mbps in Q1 to 25.47Mbps now, while the average for the primary Mobile Broadband operators reached 15.99Mbps (up from 14.42Mbps in Q1). Virgin Media remains the fastest fixed line provider and EE dominates mobile. As usual it’s worth mentioning that some of the fastest fixed line broadband ISPs tend to perform better because they have a higher proportion of subscribers taking “superfast broadband” (e.g. FTTC, Cable, FTTH/P etc.) connections.

For example, it’s little wonder that Virgin are the top performer (average download of 57.17Mbps) for the big boys because their entry-level package is 50Mbps (this is also their most popular option), while many other providers remain hobbled by an older and slower base of less reliable ‘up to’ 20Mbps ADSL2+ lines.

Otherwise not much has changed since Q1, outside of the on-going spread of “superfast” (24Mbps+) connectivity to reach 95% of premises by 2017 through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK scheme with BT (here). More recently Virgin has also committed to expand their cable network to around 60% of the UK by 2020 (here), although the deployment has only just begun.
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The Fastest UK ISPs – Average Download Speed (Megabits per second)
No. Operator Q2 2015 Result Q1 2015 Result Q4 2014 Result
1. Virgin Media 57.17Mbps 54.17Mbps 53.20Mbps
2. BT 26.14Mbps 25.97Mbps 25.61Mbps
3. Zen Internet 25.78Mbps 25.08Mbps 24.22Mbps
4. PlusNet 24.38Mbps 23.28Mbps 22.64Mbps
5. TalkTalk 16.52Mbps 16.20Mbps 15.25Mbps
6. Sky Broadband 14.25Mbps 14.27Mbps 13.59Mbps
7. EE 14.07Mbps 14.09Mbps 13.52Mbps
Average Speed = 25.47Mbps

The Fastest UK ISPs – Average Upload Speed

No. Operator Q2 2015 Result Q1 2015 Result Q4 2014 Result
1. BT 7.99Mbps 7.96Mbps 7.64Mbps
2. Zen Internet 7.85Mbps 7.65Mbps 7.47Mbps
3. PlusNet 7.62Mbps 7.28Mbps 6.89Mbps
4. Virgin Media 6.93Mbps 6.63Mbps 6.43Mbps
5. EE 3.94Mbps 3.91Mbps 3.19Mbps
6. Sky Broadband 3.78Mbps 4.49Mbps 3.79Mbps
7. TalkTalk 3.13Mbps 2.95Mbps 2.73Mbps
Average Speed = 5.89Mbps

As usual it’s important to state that the above ISPs aren’t the fastest overall home broadband providers and if we were to expand our list in order to include niche companies, which often only focus upon smaller areas, then we’d need to include true fibre optic (FTTH/P) operators like Hyperoptic and Gigaclear (there are others but most don’t produce enough data to be included).

For example, Lancashire’s rural B4RN project scored a staggering average download speed of 322.07Mbps and 315.75Mbps for uploads. Meanwhile Hyperoptic delivered 143.28Mbps for download and 122.43Mbps for uploads, while Gigaclear scored 111.86Mbps on downloads and 133.95Mbps for uploads.

Most of the above ISPs also offer a 1000Mbps package, but not everybody takes the fastest and most expensive option. On top of that it’s difficult to reliably speed test such connections (they push the limits of online testing, routers and even some wired computer LAN links etc.).

Meanwhile, on the Mobile Broadband (3G and 4G) front, performance among the four primary operators has continued to improve at a sharper pace and that’s largely thanks to the impact of faster 4G, which is being rapidly deployed across the UK. In this field EE benefits from having had a long head-start and so it’s no surprise to find that their superior 4G coverage is giving them a strong lead, but the others are catching.

The Fastest Mobile Operators – Download Speed

No. Operator Q2 2015 Result Q1 2015 Result Q4 2014 Result
1. EE 23.35Mbps 20.43Mbps 13.26Mbps
2. Vodafone 15.45Mbps 14.26Mbps 13.78Mbps
3. O2 12.60Mbps 11.63Mbps 10.69Mbps
4. Three UK 12.56Mbps 11.38Mbps 9.12Mbps
Average Speed = 15.99Mbps

The Fastest Mobile Operators – Upload Speed
No. Operator Q2 2015 Result Q1 2015 Result Q4 2014 Result
1. EE 9.37Mbps 9.09Mbps 6.32Mbps
2. Vodafone 7.11Mbps 6.65Mbps 6.46Mbps
3. O2 6.17Mbps 5.80Mbps 5.47Mbps
4. Three UK 5.21Mbps 5.30Mbps 4.50Mbps
Average Speed = 6.96Mbps

The above data is gathered using Ookla’s universal service and we then calculate the average speeds from only the providers listed above (sadly Ookla’s overall figures are too skewed by business providers for us to use their own average).

In any case it’s also important to take average speeds like those above with a big pinch of salt. Every home is different and performance can be affected by all sorts of issues, many of which are beyond the provider’s ability to control (e.g. slow wifi or poor home wiring), thus we do not consider the above data to be a reliable barometer for individual users, but it can help to highlight general changes in the market.

Ookla’s data also attempts to reflect the fastest sustainable throughput performance by dropping a chunk of the slowest tests and a smaller slice of the fastest results for each ISP, which has its merits but also skews the results a bit.