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UK mobile broadband performance 75% slower than advertised

The FCC wants gigabit internet in every US state by 2015

A five-month research project by customer experience management specialist Epitiro has found that real-life UK mobile broadband speeds reach, on average, only 24 per cent of the headline data rates advertised by carriers as maximum available throughputs. At less than 1Mbps, the average mobile broadband speed is 34 per cent slower than average speeds achieved on ADSL connections, the firm said.

The research was based on data taken from Epitiro’s handset-based ‘Isposure’ application, which was installed on more than 1,300 handsets across the UK, between the beginning of December last year and the beginning of May this year. More than 1.4 million test results were recorded.

Orange, O2 and 3UK each advertised potential top speeds of 3.6Mbps, while T-Mobile claimied 4.5Mbps and Vodafone 7.2Mbps. But the fastest 20 agents (the word used by Epitiro to describe host devices for its measurement application) averaged just 1.8Mbps over the test period.

Mobile broadband is touted by carriers as a viable alternative to a fixed connection. Indeed recent research from Berg Insight noted that HSPA connections accounted for 11.6 per cent of the total number of European broadband connections at the end of 2008, up 74 per cent on the previous year. The majority of those connections – which include smarthpones and dongles – are in the UK, Germany and Italy, which together account for 60 per cent of the total figure of 14.6 million.

Espirito noted that there was, on average, a 20 per cent drop in performance on TCP peak throughput speeds during the peak usage time of 6pm to midnight.

There was positive news, though, with the firm noting that average TCP download speeds improved by more than 11 per cent during the five-month project. However, improvement was not equal across the carriers tested, with Espirito recording that. “variances among mobile broadband ISPs are significant in terms of TCP and HTTP speed as well as Pin and DNS look up times.”

The dream of truly competitive performance between fixed and mobile waits for LTE to bring it closer to reality, with the firm saying that: “No mobile broadband ISP equalled and equivalent ADSL fixed line service provider in terms of overall performance.”


One comment

  1. Perry Rowe 20/07/2009 @ 12:17 pm

    3’s operator told me that 200 Kbps (approx 0.2 Mbps) was considered ‘good’ download speed on a modem attached to a laptop. Upload speeds of 50 kpbs was normal. In no way do these compare to non-mobile networks unless its dial-up!

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