If you’re worried that your internet connection isn’t very fast, you might be wondering what the average internet speed in the UK is. An overall average is not all that useful, in truth, but we have that and a barrage of other data that will help you gauge how fast your connection is compared to the national average.
The average internet speed in the UK
The average (median) download speed for all types of UK residential broadband connections is 50.4Mbits/sec. These figures are based on actual speed tests conducted by SamKnows for the UK’s official telecoms regulator, Ofcom. The latest set of figures at the time of writing were recorded in March 2021.
The overall average isn’t a particularly helpful figure, as it covers everything from slow old ADSL connections to people on hugely expensive full-fibre connections. So, let’s break the figures down to get a clearer picture of how your connection compares to others.
The average internet speed by type of connection
It’s far more useful to see how the speed of your connection compares to others using the same type of connection as you. Fortunately, Ofcom breaks these figures down into four different connection types, which are:
ADSL – the old-school broadband connection, which is normally sold as “up to 20Mbits/sec” or around that speed.
FTTC – this stands for fibre-to-the-cabinet and is the most common type of broadband today, where you’re connected to a local fibre cabinet. The last leg of the connection, between your home and the cabinet, is usually served by old copper cable, which keeps a lid on speeds. These connections are commonly sold as “up to 40Mbits/sec” or “up to 80Mbits/sec”.
Cable – this refers to connections sold by Virgin Media O2. Cable generally offers much faster download speeds than FTTC, but the upload speeds are quite limited. Virgin Media offers download speeds of up to 1Gbit/sec (or 1,000Mbits/sec), but most customers are on slower packages than that.
FTTP – these are the very lucky customers who have an end-to-end fibre connection. These can offer speeds of 1Gbit/sec and beyond. Again, though, many customers are on packages with slower headline speeds.
The table below shows the average speed for the different types of technology, as measured by SamKnows/Ofcom in March 2021:
What should you do if your speed is well below average?
If your speed is much slower than average for the type of connection you have, there are a few things to check:
- Your broadband package – the headline speed of your connection might be slower than the average speed. For example, you can buy cable packages that are limited to 100Mbits/sec, meaning you’re never going to reach the average speed because your connection is capped. Faster packages are generally more expensive.
- Your distance from the exchange/fibre cabinet – if you’re on ADSL or FTTC, your distance from the local telephone exchange (ADSL) or fibre cabinet (FTTC) can make a massive difference to the speed you can achieve. Your broadband provider should provide you with an estimate for the maximum speed of your individual connection. Ask for that, and if your actual speed is much lower, you should discuss it with their technical support team to find out why.
- Your in-home Wi-Fi – people often confuse the raw speed of their connection with the speed they’re seeing when connected to Wi-Fi in the home. Wi-Fi degrades speed and the further you are from the router, the more speed you’ll lose. So, if you’re doing a speed test in a third-floor bedroom and the router’s on the ground floor, you may only see a fraction of the speed that your line actually delivers. If you’re having problems getting a decent speed in parts of your house, it’s again worth having a conversation with your broadband provider. You might also consider upgrading to a Wi-Fi 6 router or a mesh router system.