10 Mbps 'needed for effective broadband' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

In recent years, there has been widespread debate concerning what should be seen as the minimum standard for broadband in the UK. 

The government's current universal commitment is two Mbps, meaning it aims to ensure every internet user in the country has access to a download speed of this quality at the very least. However, a new report from Ofcom has suggested this figure may be too low.

According to the telecoms watchdog, there is "an increasingly compelling argument" to say ten Mbps is in fact needed for an effective quality of broadband service.

Ofcom's report stated: "The broadband speed required by a typical household is likely to increase over time, as individual applications require more bandwidth, and the number of simultaneous applications increases. 

"We may begin to view around ten Mbps as the effective quality of service broadband consumers expect, with two Mbps more of an ‘essential’ level."

While the organisation's suggestion that the government should be focusing on providing higher speeds is welcome, many people across the UK are still unable to access speeds of two Mbps.

According to Ofcom's research, eight per cent of broadband connections in the country are two Mbps or slower. Only half of the people using a service of this standard have the option to switch to super-fast broadband.

While the watchdog reported 18.7 Mbps as the UK's average connection speed, it said this disguises the high level of variation across the country and the median service is actually only ten Mbps.

Ofcom's report also recognised there are still challenges to be solved when it comes to extending super-fast services to rural areas and some urban not-spots.

One option for people living in these locations is satellite broadband, which can go above and beyond Ofcom's proposed ten Mbps target, as it is capable of providing speeds in excess of 20 Mbps regardless of location.

Indeed, the government has highlighted satellite as one of the technologies that could help to improve broadband in the UK's hardest-to-reach areas.