By Marcus Leach

Download broadband speeds in the UK are on average 35% slower between off- peak and peak usage times, according to new research by independent price comparison and switching service, uSwitch.com.

The study, based on two million speed tests across the UK, reveals that only the nation's insomniacs are benefiting from the maximum headline speeds offered by providers, with the fastest average download speed of 9.6Mb/s only available between 2 and 3am.

At peak surfing time between the hours of 7 to 9pm, average download speeds fall by a third to 6.2Mb/s, making the busy evening hours the slowest time of the day.

At a regional level, the difference in broadband speeds during peak and off-peak times is even more significant. According to the uSwitch data, internet users in the market town of Evesham, Worcestershire, are seeing a massive 69% fall in broadband speeds, with average morning download speeds of 15.5Mb/s falling to just 4.9Mb/s in the evening.

Similarly, in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, the average broadband download speed falls by almost two-thirds (64%) between off-peak morning and peak evening usage times, from 9.5Mb/s to 3.4Mb/s.

Wadebridge in Cornwall has an even worse deal - although the morning-to-evening average broadband speeds in the area vary by a slightly less significant 49%, this represents a drop-off from a limp 4.1Mb/s during off-peak hours to a snail-like 2.1Mb/s in the evening.

“It really is surprising just how much broadband speeds fluctuate at different times of the day, with drop-offs of almost 70% in some areas of the UK. Not many internet users enjoy the maximum headline broadband speeds offered by providers, and certainly not during the working week," Ernest Doku, technology expert at uSwitch.com, said.

“This research may help to shed some light on why many bewildered consumers, who believe they‟ve signed up to a certain broadband speed, never actually feel like their connection is fast enough. The problem of slower broadband speeds has been exacerbated by changes in the way people use the internet, with far more people downloading music and watching TV programmes online, inevitably putting more strain on the network.

“Although providers are working hard to upgrade the UK's broadband infrastructure, there is a long road ahead to ensure that everyone can enjoy a much more consistent service. For those who feel they are permanently stuck in the slow lane, it‟s an extremely frustrating situation, especially with many people now relying heavily on the internet in their day-to-day lives.

“It is important to remember that the fastest headline speeds are not guaranteed and home broadband users should perform an online broadband speed test to check that they are getting the best possible package for their area. If you feel the service you‟re receiving is not up to scratch, you shouldn‟t be afraid to shop around for a better deal.”

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