What are Broadband Speeds?

Feb 16, 2022

Most of us use Broadband every day for work, entertainment, or to stay in touch with family and friends using smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices.

Broadband speed is one of the most important things to consider when choosing your internet provider. It is essentially how fast you can upload or download data using your internet connection.

The Broadband speeds available to you will vary depending on factors such as your location, how you use the internet, and the amount that you are willing to spend on your internet package.

How Do Broadband Speeds Work?

Broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The more Mbps, the faster the broadband which means faster downloads.

If you have a fast Broadband network, then you will be able to watch videos on streaming services like Netflix and download music and apps quickly without delays.

According to Which, average download speeds on standard Broadband are just 10-11Mbps, whereas fibre Broadband offers average speeds of between 36Mbps and 67Mbps.

How Does Peak Time Influence Slowdowns?

Internet slowdowns occur during peak times and cause your average download speeds to drop significantly. It typically occurs between 7-11 PM on weeknights as this is when most people use the internet.

Internet slowdowns are caused by internet congestion, which is similar to rush hour traffic congestion, only online. As a result, your internet connection and Broadband speed become slower.

What do 'Average Speeds' Actually Mean?

Broadband providers promote their internet packages using 'average speeds.' These will tell you what Broadband speed you should expect, but there is no guarantee that you will always have this download speed.

The internet speed advertised is the average download speed available to at least 50% of the Broadband provider's customers during peak internet hours. However, some users will get a faster download speed while others will get a slower speed.

If you live in a rural location, then you are likely to have a slower Broadband speed than the average advertised. A survey by Ofcom found that rural lines had a median average speed under 10 Mbps in March 2021.

Estimated Speeds and Speed Guarantees

Average internet speeds will give you a good indication of the download speed you will get, but they are not guaranteed. To help resolve this issue, many well-known Broadband providers have signed up the Ofcom's voluntary code of practice on broadband speeds.

Under this policy, Broadband providers must give accurate estimates on Broadband speeds taking peak times into account. Customers should also be given a minimum guaranteed speed and have the right to cancel the contract without penalty if the speed falls below this minimum and the issue is not resolved within 30 days.

How Upload Speed Works

Upload speed is how quickly you can upload information from your electronic device to the internet e.g. when you post on social media or share videos and images online.

The average internet user spends more time downloading data than uploading, so Broadband providers usually provide a faster download speed in comparison to upload speed.

However, upload speed is becoming more important as more services are moving to the cloud and sharing services are becoming more popular.

The average speed advertised usually refers to the download speed, so make sure you also check the average upload speed when comparing internet providers.

How Download Speed Works

Download speed refers to how many Mbps it takes to download data from a server to your electronic device in the form of videos, images, audio, and files. Online activities such as watching videos on YouTube and downloading files will use your internet download data.

A download speed of 25Mbps is considered good for most internet activities. However, a higher download speed may be a better option if you download lots of data from the internet or have multiple people using the internet in your household.

Different Types of Broadband

The Broadband services available to you will depend on your location and your budget. Here are some of the main types of Broadband:

ADSL Broadband

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is the most commonly available type of broadband in the UK. It is delivered through the copper wires of your phone line and your internet speed will be affected by how far you live from your telephone exchange.

Cable Broadband

Cable Broadband offers faster internet speeds by delivering internet directly to homes and businesses using fibre optic and coaxial cables. Unlike with ADSL, internet speeds are not affected by location and distance from the telephone exchange.

Fibre Broadband

Fibre Broadband is delivered through fibre optic cables and offers internet speeds much faster than ADSL and cable.

There are two main types of fibre broadband: 'fibre-to-the-cabinet' (FTTC) and 'fibre-to-the-premises' (FTTP).

Ultrafast Full Fibre Broadband

This is one of the fastest and most reliable Broadband services on the market today, however you will need to check to see if the broadband is available in your area.

If you are unsure which type of Broadband connection you have you should ask your current provider.