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    The UK 2016 vs 2015 Top Fastest Mobile and Home Broadband ISPs

    This is a discussion on The UK 2016 vs 2015 Top Fastest Mobile and Home Broadband ISPs within the General Computing and Internet forums, part of the Community channel category; The UK 2016 vs 2015 Top Fastest Mobile and Home Broadband ISPs - ISPreview UK As another year passes, we ...

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      The UK 2016 vs 2015 Top Fastest Mobile and Home Broadband ISPs

      The UK 2016 vs 2015 Top Fastest Mobile and Home Broadband ISPs - ISPreview UK
      As another year passes, we take a look back to see how much faster the national fixed line Home Broadband and Mobile (3G / 4G) providers have become for download and upload speed. Overall EE is the king of Mobile, while Hyperoptic are the fastest altnet and Virgin Media is the top national ISP.

      It’s important to note that most of the major infrastructure providers (mobile and fixed line) are still in the process of expanding the availability of faster connectivity. The uptake of new services usually lags behind availability, but we are still seeing a general upward curve in performance as more consumers adopt the latest services.

      At this time last year around 88% of UK premises (estimated) could order a “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) capable fixed line connection (mostly catered for via Openreach and Virgin Media’s network) and this has now increased to roughly 91%+.

      Similarly the coverage of 4G based Mobile Broadband had previously reached approximately 80-90% of the population at the end of 2015 and this has now increased to 92-98%, depending upon which operator you choose (EE has the best coverage because they benefited from a long head-start).

      On top of that a lot of the new services have also become faster through upgrades. For example, EE and Vodafone have introduced faster Cat 6 and Cat 9 LTE-Advanced technology to parts of their 4G networks (example) and BT has introduced a new 52Mbps tier on their entry-level fixed line Infinity (FTTC) packages. Elsewhere Virgin has boosted some of its upload speeds (here).

      We fully expect this trend to continue over the next few years as fixed line “superfast” connections aim for 97-98% coverage by 2019 and 4G mobile heads towards near universal reach. On top of that Openreach plans to begin the roll-out of 300Mbps+ capable G.fast technology in 2017 and Virgin’s cable network will continue to extend its reach towards the goal of 60-65% coverage by 2019.

      The Fastest National Fixed Line Broadband ISPs (2016 vs 2015)


      The following scores use data from Thinkbroadband‘s database and only include independent providers with strong national availability. Sadly smaller alternative network (altnet) ISPs tend not to produce much data and aren’t available to the vast majority of premises, but we do give them a separate table after the national ISPs.

      On top of that it’s crucial to note that ISPs which have a greater proportion of “superfast” connections, such as Virgin, will usually score higher because their performance will outweigh the results from customers on slower connectivity methods or packages (e.g. Virgin’s entry-level tier is 50Mbps, so they tend to pull ahead).

      By comparison the slowest 4-5 ISPs all have a higher proportion of subscribers on older and slower (ADSL2) lines, which suppresses their standing and this is why we recommend taking such results with a pinch of salt. In other words, just because an ISP returns a slower average (mean) speed doesn’t mean to say that this is the fault of the provider itself.

      NOTE: The top 10% result, shown below in brackets, represents the speed experienced by the fastest 10% of customers on each ISP. Both the 2015 and 2016 results are based off data that was published during early December (Dec) of each year.

      Average Download Speeds (Top 10)

      No. Operator Dec 2016 (Top 10%) Dec 2015 (Top 10%) Change
      1. Virgin Media 50.9Mbps (103.5Mbps) 49.8Mbps (105.2Mbps) +2.21%
      2. AAISP 31.7Mbps (73.3Mbps) 29.8Mbps (71.2Mbps) +6.38%
      3. Vodafone 28.9Mbps (55.1Mbps) no data no data
      4. Zen Internet 26.7Mbps (65.1Mbps) 23.8Mbps (64.6Mbps) +12.18%
      5. IDNet 24.5Mbps (67Mbps) 19.6Mbps (61.8Mbps) +25%
      6. BT 24Mbps (51.3Mbps) 19.2Mbps (40.8Mbps) +25%
      7. Plusnet 18.4Mbps (43.1Mbps) 16.1Mbps (38.1Mbps) +14.29%
      8. TalkTalk 14.2Mbps (34.7Mbps) 12.4Mbps (33.4Mbps) +14.52%
      9. EE 13.7Mbps (34.8Mbps) 10.5Mbps (30.1Mbps) +30.48%
      10. Sky Broadband 13.3Mbps (31.9Mbps) 12.2Mbps (30Mbps) +9.02%
      Average Upload Speeds (Top 10)

      No. Operator Dec 2016 Result Dec 2015 Result Change
      1. Vodafone 8.4Mbps no data no data
      2. AAISP 7.5Mbps 6Mbps +25%
      3. Zen Internet 7Mbps 6.3Mbps +11.11%
      4. IDNet 6.5Mbps 5.3Mbps +22.64%
      5. Virgin Media 6.3Mbps 5.8Mbps +8.62%
      6. BT 5.7Mbps 4.8Mbps +18.75%
      7. EE 3.4Mbps 2.2Mbps +54.55%
      8. Plusnet 3.3Mbps 3.9Mbps –15.38%
      9. Sky Broadband 3Mbps 2.7Mbps +11.11%
      10. TalkTalk 1.9Mbps 1.6Mbps +18.75%

      Overall the average download speed of the top 10 national providers was 24.63Mbps and the average upload speed hit 5.3Mbps. Sadly we cannot offer an accurate comparison of change with the Dec 2015 result because Vodafone wasn’t present in the data for that run, although we do estimate a general performance increase of around 10-11%.

      It’s difficult to read too much into the 12 month change without also knowing the composition of each ISP’s subscriber base (i.e. what connections and packages was everybody on), but the broad performance increase is very much to be expected (see this article’s introduction).

      Flip over to page 2 to see more analysis, as well as the fastest altnets and mobile operators.

      It’s interesting to note that Sky remain at the bottom for download performance, which is despite continuing to receive some of the fewest consumer complaints among the big boys. Sadly Sky are tight lipped about their FTTCfibre broadband” subscriber totals, so it’s just possible that their older and slower ADSL2+ lines might have more influence than at rival ISPs.

      On the other hand the average FTTC speed for Sky was recorded as 26.2Mbps, which is well below many of the other top 10 providers. So part of the reason for their poor performance above could be because most of their subscribers are still using the old and slow SR101/102 router, which has terrible WiFi performance.


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      Re: The UK 2016 vs 2015 Top Fastest Mobile and Home Broadband ISPs

      Cont...
      The Fastest Alternative Network ISPs

      At this point we’ll turn our attention to alternative network (altnet) providers, most of which only have a comparatively small level of network coverage or sample data from customers. Unfortunately this means that we can’t offer a very comprehensive list of such ISPs, but we are able to list some of those that show up most frequently in the data.

      Altnets often deliver some of the fastest home broadband speeds in the country and that’s thanks in no small part to their ultrafast pure fibre optic (FTTP) infrastructure, although some (e.g. Relish) prefer to use high frequency wireless connections and elsewhere KCOM (Hull) is a mix of ADSL2+, FTTP and just a little FTTC.

      Many more altnets exist than those listed below, but the sample sizes are so small as to be potentially unreliable and hence we don’t have enough data to show them. The use of WiFi can also have a particularly strong negative impact on ultrafast FTTP/H providers, which may act to mask their true capabilities.

      Average Download Speeds

      No. Operator 2016 (Top 10%) 2015 (Top 10%) Change
      1. Hyperoptic 78.9Mbps (171Mbps) 88.2Mbps (252Mbps) –10.54%
      2. Gigaclear 64.4Mbps (104.8Mbps) 72Mbps (154Mbps) –10.56%
      3. KCOM 32.1Mbps (80.1Mbps) no data no data
      4. Relish Wireless 14.9Mbps (39.1Mbps) 14.7Mbps (33.9Mbps) +1.36%

      Average Upload Speeds

      No. Operator 2016
      2015 Change
      1. Hyperoptic 66.4Mbps 77.1Mbps –13.88%
      2. Gigaclear 62.5Mbps 78.6Mbps –20.48%
      3. KCOM 8.6Mbps no data no data
      4. Relish Wireless 1.7Mbps 2Mbps –15%

      Both Hyperoptic and Gigaclear operate ultra-fast Gigabit capable FTTP/B style networks and so unsurprisingly they deliver some of the fasted fixed line broadband speeds in the country, which is only being held back by the fact that each also offers a selection of slower packages at more affordable prices (i.e. most people tend to prefer 50-100Mbps to a more expensive 1Gbps service).

      We wouldn’t read too much into the performance drop at the two pure fibre optic providers above because they’re still building out their networks and this may just be due to which packages end-users are opting to take, although it is something we’ll keep an eye on. Sadly neither ISP releases detailed subscriber data like the big providers, so we can’t easily judge.

      The Top Fastest Mobile Network Operators


      Unsurprisingly the ever increasing coverage of 4G based Mobile Broadband networks among the four primary operators has helped to support an increase in Internet connectivity performance. As per our introduction, EE (BT) delivers the best 4G coverage and has one of strongest deployments of faster LTE-Advanced technology, which helps to fuel a clear lead.

      However it should be said that their rivals are catching up and by this time next year some of the results could be a lot closer, although EE’s win of the Government’s new Emergency Services Network contract means that their coverage is still likely to be superior (i.e. EE’s 4G geographic reach should hit 95% of the by 2020, which equates to 99.8% of the UK population).

      Average Download Speeds

      No. Operator 2016
      2015
      Change
      1. EE 27.4Mbps 18.3Mbps +49.73%
      2. Vodafone 16.3Mbps 14.3Mbps +13.99%
      3. Three UK 14.4Mbps 11.4Mbps +26.32%
      4. O2 14.4Mbps 12Mbps +20%

      Average Upload Speeds

      No. Operator 2016
      2015
      Change
      1. EE 5.3Mbps 4.2Mbps +26.19%
      2. Three UK 3.7Mbps 3.1Mbps +19.35%
      3. Vodafone 3.5Mbps 3.1Mbps +12.9%
      4. O2 3.1Mbps 2.6Mbps +19.23%

      Disclaimer:
      It’s important to take average speeds, like those reported 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 wi-fi 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.

      Mobile connections are also particularly subject to the daily movements and radically differing hardware choices (Smartphones etc.) of their end-users, which makes it especially difficult to establish a reliable picture of performance across each network.

      Finally, readers can conduct a test of their Internet connection performance via our Speedtest Page, which also contains a simplified summary of the above data including the previous mid-year 2016 result instead of the 2015 score; this reflects the fact that we tend to update our service speed data every 6 months.

     

     

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