High-speed broadband brings entertainment revolution - at a cost

Average UK broadband download speeds have reached 5Mbit/s.

The rise in average broadband download speeds from 4.1Mbit/s in January to 5Mbit/s in October is ascribed to the increasing overall use of the BBC iPlayer and the introduction of is high-quality viewing option. Daily requests to iPlayer to stream or download TV and radio programmes have risen from 360,000 in January to 957,000 in October.

ISPs such as O2 and Virgin Media are also seeing increasing consumption of rich media like high definition (HD) TV downloads.

“We’re seeing our customers spend a far greater proportion of their time enjoying entertainment and video services like the iPlayer online,” said Peter Rampling, marketing director at O2. “But too many UK consumers are still finding their online video experience hamstrung by slow download speeds and usage limits.”

Jessica McArdle, a spokesperson for Top 10 Broadband , said: “The downside of this exponential growth in high-quality video streaming services like the iPlayer is that people are increasingly being hit with unexpected data charges for exceeding their download allowance.

“With average speeds now over 5Mbit/s making the rich media dream a reality, download allowance remains the final frontier to be crossed before online HD entertainment becomes a viable option for the majority of UK broadband users. Only ISPs that can match these demands will remain viable options for the average video-hungry user.”

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