UK cable broadband faster than fibre-optic connections

Cable broadband users have higher average speeds than their fibre-optic counterparts after a new report poured scorn on the latter’s connectivity across the UK.

Read more: UK broadband showdown 2014: The country’s fastest ISPs revealed

Ofcom’s latest report into actual residential broadband speeds in the UK found for the six months to May 2014 that the average speed delivered by cable was 43.3Mbps whereas fibre averaged 42Mbps.

This doesn’t detract from the fact that the average overall UK broadband speed increased by five per cent to 18.7Mbps and the number of super-fast broadband connections [those with a speed of 30Mbps or faster] increased from 24 per cent to 28 per cent of all connections.

“While good progress is being made, there is still work to do in ensuring more widespread distribution of high-speed, reliable broadband services across the UK. It's important for us to provide consumers with the best possible information to help them understand the options available to them when choosing broadband, how different packages perform, and what they can do to get the most from their services,” said Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive.

One of the interesting findings is that there is still a very real gap between speeds in urban areas and those enjoyed by rural customers that is narrowing, though at a very slow rate. This manifested itself in the fact that average rural broadband speeds increased 20 per cent to 13.6Mbps but still lagged way behind urban [up five per cent to 33.4Mbps] and suburban [up five per cent to 22.9Mbps] areas.

Andrew Ferguson, from Think Broadband, gave some more fuel to the cable broadband side of things by telling the BBC that it looks set to beat fibre connections on speed for the foreseeable future due to the slow implementation of fibre to the home [FTTH] connections.

"The technical maximum is around 120Mbps for fibre to the cabinet [FTTC] and that's if you are the house next to the cabinet,” Ferguson said.

Read more: UK broadband “unambitious and inadequate”

Among the super-fast broadband providers assessed by Ofcom, Virgin Media’s “up to” 152Mbps cable service, which launched in February saw an average speed of 141.9Mbps over a 24 hour period whereas BT’s “up to” 76Mbps fibre package saw an average speed of 62Mbps.

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