Mobile broadband crawls, average speed 1Mbps, claims survey

While mobile operators continue to market broadband speeds 'up to' 7.2Mbps, a new study shows average download rates in the UK have shown little if any increase over the last 12 months.

According to Broadband Genie, despite 3UK, Vodafone UK and Virgin Media UK all advertising 'up to' speeds of 7.2Mbps, the average is still below 1.2Mbps.

Leading the 'performance race' were T-Mobile and Vodafone with average speeds around 1.2Mbps, while Orange lagged behind with an average of just 0.86Mbps. The laggards, O2 and 3UK, failed to achieve an average of 1Mbps, but both showed an upward curve in average speeds from below 1Mb last August to around 1.2Mb this year, bringing them more in line with their rivals and leaving Orange now in last place.

Commenting on the results, Broadband Genie editor Chris Marling said: "It's hard to believe the government or Ofcom hasn't stepped in to bring these 'up to' speeds into line with reality."

"Action is being taken on fixed-line speed advertising, where lines advertised as 'up to' 8Mbps are averaging around 3.5Mbps--the situation with mobile broadband is even worse."

Marling said that mobile broadband was a great product, "which sells on it's merits--it doesn't need to be over sold. Let us hope that this time next year, we will be reporting improved mobile broadband speeds, more realistic advertising, and the dawn of 4G speeds that will really take this technology to the next level."

However, while operators in Scandinavia and Germany are already launching LTE services, the UK spectrum auctions are not planned to take place until the end of 2011. While HSDPA will provide some improvements to overall download speeds, UK subscribers will need to cast a suspicious eye over any advertising claims made by UK-based operators until well into 2012 when 4G might start to become available.

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