Ofcom To Probe Mobile Broadband Speeds
Ofcom has selected Epitiro to analyse the performance of the UK’s mobile broadband services
The regulator Ofcom is launching new research into the performance of mobile broadband services over the UK’s five mobile network operators: 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone.
The research will be conducted by broadband testing and measurement company Epitiro, using its ipQ ‘Consumer Experience’ measurement technology. According to Epitiro, the technology captures a range of “key performance indicators”, such as accessibility, reliability and throughput speeds.
“Epitiro has developed consumer experience analysis technology specifically for the mobile industry.” said Gavin Johns, CEO of Epitiro, “We’re excited to be undertaking this essential research for Ofcom”.
Epitiro has already published a report (pdf) on mobile broadband performance, following research conducted in 2008 and 2009. The study revealed that mobile broadband users experienced, on average, just 24 percent of the maximum ‘up to’ speeds advertised, and the average mobile broadband speed achieved was less than 1Mbps.
Meanwhile, web browsing was on average 34 percent slower than on equivalent ADSL services, while ping times were three times slower than equivalent fixed-line broadband services, according to the research.
“Due to the difference in performance between nationally available ADSL and mobile broadband service levels, Epitiro recommends that consumers fully monitor the actual service levels they receive to ensure broadband services meet their requirements,” said the company in its report.
In research published over the summer, Michael Philpott, principal analyst at Ovum, said that by the end of 2015 mobile broadband will outstrip fixed networks by more than three times. There will be approximately 3.2 billion mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide, compared to just 785 million fixed broadband subscriptions at the same point in time, the research stated.
“By the end of 2015 mobile broadband will swamp fixed broadband subscriptions by more than 300 percent. A startling statistic, but not one that should overly concern fixed broadband operators,” said Philpott.
Philpott said that fixed lines would continue to be an important part of Internet connectivity, and that the global fixed broadband market will continue to grow by a compound annual growth rate of seven percent.
However, fixed-line operators also came under criticism from Ofcom earlier this year for not delivering the speeds promised to consumers. The regulator revealed that, while the average speed had gone up, the percentage of the advertised speed that was being achieved had actually fallen from 58 percent in 2009 to 45 percent in 2010.
“If consumers pay for a Ferrari-style Internet service, they should not get push bike speeds,” said Robert Hammond, head of post and digital communications at Consumer Focus, responding to Ofcom’s research. “Broadband users should get what they pay for. The Advertising Standards Authority should take a tough approach to broadband providers who promise speeds they don’t deliver.”
TalkTalk’s chairman Charles Dunstone hit back at Ofcom, arguing that more should be done to push BT – as the operator of the copper infrastructure – to improve maintenance of the lines and its communication with fellow service providers.
“The reality is that when the BT network was built no one had ever dreamed of broadband, so we are all trying to run a 21st century technology over a network that was designed for making phone calls,” he said.