Web pages typically take eight seconds longer to download on mobile broadband connections than fixed line, research by UK regulator Ofcom shows.
Tests by the regulator revealed that basic pages take 8.5 seconds to load on a typical mobile broadband connection of 1.5Mbps, compared to just half a second on a fixed broadband line with data speeds of 6.2Mbps. The gap was lower for users in areas with strong 3G coverage, with pages loading in 2.2 seconds on a peak rate of 2.1Mbps.
The figures are significant as the number of users accessing the Web via a mobile broadband dongle or datacard is growing. Ofcom’s research found that 7% of households now access the web solely through mobile compared with 3% in 2009, and that 17% of households utilize wireless broadband services.
Ofcom chief Ed Richards said the research “gives consumers a clearer picture of the performance of mobile broadband dongle and datacards,” which will allow them to “make the most of competition in the market.”
The regulator conducted 4.2 million tests of dongles in areas with strong 3G reception between September and December 2010. The research shows that O2 offers the best data rates and lowest latency, with T-Mobile and Orange bottom based on those measures.
Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Thomas Wehmeier said the figures on data speeds are likely to “kick start a multi-million pound war of words between the UK’s fiercely-competitive mobile operators.” He predicts O2 will be “shouting from the rooftops” about its success in the tests, noting that “operators realise that few things are more important to users of shiny new devices than the quality of network experience they’re able to deliver.”
Ofcom plans to repeat the tests for smartphones in the coming months.