THE BLOG

Ofcom Busts the Big Broadband Myth

19/12/2014 13:37 GMT | Updated 18/02/2015 10:59 GMT

If your browsing speed online is slow, what can you as a consumer do about it? You can buy yourself a faster broadband package to make it better, right?

Wrong! Ofcom has officially debunked that myth in their latest Infrastructure report, as I told Martin Stanford on Sky News's Digital View programme last week.

Ofcom used Actual Experience data to reveal that "for connections with a download speed greater than 10Mbps, access speed appears to become less significant than other factors." The average line speed in the UK is 24Mbps.

This is massive news. It means that for everyone with more than 10Mbps, download speed is not the main constraint to a seamless online experience.

So what is, you may well ask. The analogy I made when I was speaking to Martin Stanford was that if I gave him a super car capable of doing 220 Mph, he would not be able to get to the office any quicker. That's because there are other factors such as traffic, road works and pot holes that affect his journey.

It's the same with the broadband chain. Queues can build up on over-used sections of cable. Glitches can occur in the data centres of Facebook, Google or whichever site you are trying to access. Or it might be that your router is old and needs replacing.

But how do you know which of these problems are causing you frustration online? Worryingly, your broadband provider or Facebook or your local Member of Parliament cannot tell either. Without the tools to identify the cause of the problem that is slowing down or staling your browsing, you and they are powerless to do anything about it.

Changing your broadband provider could make your connection worse if the fault is not with the broadband provider to start with. Alarmingly, paying more for a higher speed package can also make the situation worse.

So sixty million of us are currently left in the dark. But over 1,000 people in the UK have found the searchlight. They are the people have got involved with the BbFix project, our initiative to make broadband work better for everyone everywhere, simply by giving people visibility over their personal connection to the world wide web.

Members of Parliament, including members for Canterbury and Whitstable, South Shropshire and Litchfield, Julian Brazier, Philip Dunne and Michael Fabricant respectively, have realised how important this is and are taking action by helping their constituents join the growing team of BbFixers. Soon those MPs will have enough data to pinpoint where the broadband problems are occurring in their constituencies.

You can get involved too by downloading the free piece of BbFix software from the BbFix website: https://www.actual-experience.com/bbfix.

We do not gather any information on you, we just test your connection to six major websites.

Got any questions? Tweet me @actualexp or email me at support@actual-experience.com. I look forward to hearing from you.