CAMBRIDGE, England, May 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Data released today by Cambridge-based broadband comparison website Broadband Genie has revealed the depressing truth that the average consumer is getting less than half of the advertised 'up to' speed they think they are paying for. The data also shows long term broadband subscribers are even confused about what package they are on. As ISPs upgrade customers to faster services, while advertising all kinds of other new packages, the message simply isn't getting across.

Broadband Genie analysed data on the top eight UK broadband suppliers across thousands of speed tests carried out by visitors to its website in the first quarter of 2009. The average ratio of download rate received, compared to the customer's expected 'up to' speed claimed by providers, was just 45.8 per cent.

But the ISPs topping the results - Virgin Media (58.8 per cent average) and TalkTalk (52.6 per cent) - had artificially high scores because customers thinking they were on 1Mb and 2Mb packages clearly had better connections. For example, Virgin Media customers who thought they were on 1Mb deals returned an average test speed of 2.9Mb - almost three times what they thought their line was capable of. *

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: We have been upgrading our cable customers' speeds regularly to improve the service we provide. For example in 2007 we upgraded 10Mb customers to a super-fast 20Mb, and in 2008 we upgraded our 4Mb customers to 10Mb, both for free. This year we're upgrading our 2Mb customers to 10Mb, so our entire customer base might actually find themselves on a speed much higher than they originally subscribed to.

TalkTalk was also quick to defend its position. A spokesperson commented: We were the first internet service provider to let our customers know what speeds they can receive before they join us, and worked closely with Ofcom to ensure this practice has now became industry standard. We are extending our network to more exchanges, supplying broadband to a huge number of customers in rural areas and optimising line speed for each and every one of them.

Broadband Genie editor Chris Marling said: No matter what spin the ISPs put on these results, the underlying truths are there for all to see. Consumers are confused about their broadband connections, and even when they do get a handle on what they should expect, they are only getting half of the 'up to' speeds that lead the advertising campaigns.

This technology is improving all the time - the internet landscape is almost unrecognisable from a decade ago. But the speed of change does not excuse ISPs from the duty they have to their customers. Consumers deserve a more transparent, honest and informative broadband marketplace so they can make correct, informed decisions.

Virgin Media and O2 recorded the best results on higher speed packages, with customers claiming to be on 20Mb lines recording average speeds above 8Mb. Both ISPs also recorded the best recorded averages on their 8Mb lines, at 3.8Mb and 3.5Mb respectively: 48 and 44 per cent of the advertised 'up to' speed.

Commenting on the results, an O2 spokesperson said: O2's home broadband packages use the ADSL2+ network which allows for a faster download speed of up to 24Mb. As per our terms and conditions, the speeds customers will receive will vary depending on the distance from the telephone exchange. Speeds may also be slow at peak times and in certain areas with any service provider.

When connecting a customer we give an initial estimate of the speed they can expect - we then monitor this to make sure it is accurate. If the speed is considerably lower than expected, we will contact the customer to let them know and may also move them to a different package if it's better suited for them.

As was the case in tests released by Ofcom and Samknows earlier in the year, Broadband Genie's overall results on 2Mb lines were generally much closer to the advertised speeds than those on faster lines. The worst test results came from BT, AOL and Orange, with each recording overall actual/expected Mb ratios of around 33 per cent. Even the 2Mb packages from these three providers returned results of around just 60 per cent, with speed tests averaging around 1.15Mb.

The Virgin Media spokesperson concluded: We're continuing to invest heavily in our network to ensure customers get the best broadband experience possible. The newly increased capacity of our next generation network is providing benefits to customers on lower speeds - for example, recent independent evidence, from Epitiro demonstrates our 'up to 10Mb' fibre optic broadband delivers customers more than double the throughput of similar 'up to 8Mb' packages from BT, Tiscali and Orange. **

The Broadband Genie speed test accurately measures an internet user's line speed, for both uploads and downloads. It also detects the user's ISP, but allows the consumer to insert the connection speed they think they should be receiving.


*Virgin Media testers thinking they were on 2Mb connections returned an average download/expected ratio of 109 per cent. Talk Talk customers thinking they were on 2Mb deals recorded an average of 106 per cent.

**According to Virgin Media, Epitiro ISP-I performance stats indicate average throughput performance on comparable services in Q4 2008 was: Virgin Media 10Mb (6.9Mb) vs 'up to 8Mb' on BT (3.4Mb), Tiscali (2.5Mb) and Orange (2.1Mb).

1. Visitors to the Broadband Genie website carried out more than 16,000 speed tests in Q1 2009.

2. Broadband Genie is the UK's leading independent broadband and mobile broadband comparison website, providing consumers with an unbiased source of information on broadband prices and contracts and allowing them to compare broadband providers in an independent environment. Broadband Genie was launched in March 2004 as the first dedicated consumer comparison site for broadband, while Mobile Broadband Genie was the first independent mobile broadband comparison site, launched in October 2007. Both sites are among the most popular sites in their respective fields, and regularly feature in the national press. /

3. All queries and interview requests should be directed to Chris Marling at Broadband Genie:t +44(0)844-415 5531 / f +44(0)871-6618553 / m +44(0)7908-327303 /

All queries and interview requests should be directed to Chris Marling at Broadband Genie:t +44(0)844-415 5531 / f +44(0)871-6618553 / m +44(0)7908-327303 /