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Home broadband more than twice as fast as mobile broadband


The difference between mobile broadband and fixed broadband speeds is growing according to new research by broadband comparison site Broadband Expert. Fixed broadband services are now, on average, twice as fast as mobile broadband.

The research comes shortly after the advertising standards agency’s (ASA) ban on an advert claiming mobile broadband offered “all the benefits of home broadband on the move”. However the provider claimed the advert was referring to the capabilities of mobile broadband as opposed to a technical comparison.

Broadband Expert clocked the average fixed line broadband speed at 3.61Mbs based on over 308,584 fixed line broadband speed tests compared to 1.57Mbs for mobile broadband (based on 5,345 tests). The gap has grown considerably due to a notable increase in the speed of fixed broadband services which are now 0.66Mbs faster than they were in February 2008 (when the average speed was recorded at 2.95Mbs). By comparison mobile broadband services surveyed by the same company in April 2008 have increased in speed by just 0.1Mbs.

William Harvey puts the increase in speeds of fixed line broadband services down to the roll out of faster broadband services by providers backed by improvements in technology and growing consumer demand for these services. Broadband providers are “phasing out slower services with many providers entry level packages starting at up to 8Mb and a number of providers upgrading customers on slower services free of charge”. Harvey continues that “whilst we are looking to make more and more of our broadband connections with the growth of online video, music downloads and online gaming the demand for faster broadband connections will continue to grow”.

Harvey explains that “mobile broadband is capable of achieving speeds of up to 7.2Mbs in areas of 3G coverage. However where no 3G coverage is available mobile broadband services rely on the much slower 2G network hence the area in which you use your mobile broadband connection can have a huge impact on the speeds achievable”. As mobile providers roll out increased coverage to the 3G networks the average mobile broadband speed will increase. A case in point is the Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL), a joint venture between T-mobile and 3 UK which plans to offer near complete 3G coverage to the UK by 2010.

However Harvey expects the gap in speeds between fixed and mobile broadband to continue to grow as home broadband providers invest huge sums in updating their networks. In July BT announced that it will invest £1.5 billion to roll out fibre based broadband services capable of speeds of up to 100Mbs whilst Virgin Media is aiming to make their 50Mbs service available to 9 million UK homes by the end of 2008.

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