Getting the most out of your broadband and mobile services

09 May 2018

Ofcom carries out a range of research into how people use communications services such as broadband, mobile and home phone.

We also look at the availability of different communications services to people in the UK. Together, this research helps us to understand the services that are on offer, and people’s experiences of using them.

We can also identify trends and potential problems that might need to be tackled, to make sure consumers can get the services they need.

As part of this, we publish two research reports focusing on broadband and mobile services.

Performance of home broadband services

Our annual Home Broadband Performance report reveals the broadband speeds that residential consumers experienced in November 2017. This study used a panel of over 4,000 volunteers across the UK who connected monitoring units to their broadband routers.

Findings from the report include:

  • Average broadband speeds have increased significantly. Average download speeds rose by 28% to 46.2 Mbit/s over the previous 12 months. Average upload speeds increased by 44% to 6.2 Mbit/s. The main reason for this was increased take-up of superfast broadband.
  • Virgin Media's ‘up to 200 Mbit/s’ cable package achieved the fastest download speeds. This package averaged 193.6 Mbit/s over a 24-hour period, and 184.3 Mbit/s during the 8pm-10pm peak period. ‘Up to 76Mbit/s’ part-fibre broadband services recorded the fastest upload speeds, averaging 16 Mbit/s over 24 hours and during peak times.
  • The speed gap during busy periods is getting smaller. While average maximum download speeds were up 25% year-on-year to 48.7 Mbit/s, average speeds during the 8pm-10pm peak period increased by 30% to 44.9 Mbit/s.
  • Many households could receive better broadband speeds by upgrading their package, sometimes at no greater cost. Although superfast broadband is available to 93% of UK premises, around two in five UK broadband households still subscribed to a standard “ADSL” service in November 2017.

People’s experience of mobile services

Our annual Consumer Mobile Experience report is based on data from more than 5,000 people who installed our research app on their Android smartphone. (The research does not include iPhones as it requires the running of passive tests which is not possible on the iPhone operating system (iOS)).

The data shows how people use their smartphone, including the type of connection used to get online and the performance they experience when using apps or making calls.

The data was collected between September and December 2017. Findings include:

  • Browsing the web on a mobile phone is more important than making calls.92% of people said web browsing was ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important, compared to 75% for calls. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, just 65% of users said making calls was important.
  • The majority of people (75%) used wifi to get online on their phone, rather than 3G or 4G. Three (35%) and EE (33%) customers were the most likely to use 3G or 4G to get online.
  • A 4G connection was available to people 81% of the time. Those using 4G were able to connect successfully on 99% of occasions.
  • Most people (84%) were satisfied with the performance of their mobile service.

Help and advice for broadband and mobile phone users

  • Our broadband and mobile checker app allows you to check the availability and performance of broadband mobile services in your area.
  • You can compare the customer service you can expect from different phone and broadband providers using our guide.
  • We also have practical tips on how you can improve your broadband speed.