Broadband speeds 'drop by a fifth at peak times' header image

Published: 25th Sep 2014

Broadband speeds in the UK fall significantly at peak times, new research has revealed.

A study carried out by uSwitch found the average download speed in the country is highest at 5am, when it reaches 18.1 Mbps. However, come 9pm, when most people are online, a drop of 21 per cent occurs, taking the average speed down to 14.3 Mbps. 

Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch, said: "You might not be a morning type, but your broadband is - no coffee required. It won't come as a surprise that your internet is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the early hours when it’s not groaning under the weight of evening demand. What will surprise many people is by how much speeds drop."

Exeter, Chester and Bath were found to experience the biggest discrepancy between peak and off-peak speeds, with a difference of more than 50 per cent between 9pm and 5am. Glasgow enjoys the most consistent service, with average speeds of 15.4 Mbps at both times.

The fastest peak-time connections can be found in Manchester (19.2 Mbps) and Birmingham (18.8 Mbps). Meanwhile, Aberdeen (7.9 Mbps), Exeter (9.9 Mbps) and Hull (9.9 Mbps) have the slowest.

In a survey of consumers, uSwitch found 69 per cent of Britons have noticed a slowdown in their broadband speeds at certain times of the day, with 53 per cent saying this has occurred between 8pm and 10pm.

Some 45 per cent of respondents said a reduction in speed at peak times has affected their leisure time by making it impossible to watch films and TV or listen to music, while for 38 per cent the slowdown has prevented them from carrying out work.

More than one in four (26 per cent) consumers claimed they have lost out financially due to slow broadband, with missing out on cheap train and flight tickets and losing online auctions examples of this. The average financial loss for these people is £159.