We looked at the speeds of the Virgin Media cable broadband service a few weeks ago in our main news feed, where the information from our broadband speed test allowed us an insight into the speeds customers actually experience.

Now after a few weeks gap it is time to take a look at another broadband provider, and this time it is TalkTalk who have predominately sold ADSL2+ but do now sell two FTTC products, the 40/2 and 80/20 variants. We will also look at all the other providers where we have enough data to be confident that the results we publish are reasonable.

One of the reasons for us wanting to look at broadband speeds, is that while there is a big emphasis on the average speeds, it is still rare to find people showing the spread of speeds and with the debate on whether Fibre to the Cabinet is an engineers nightmare but an accountants dream ongoing it is good to get some actual data on the speeds people experience. Of course we cannot guarantee to have a line length spread that precisely matches the UK situation, but by aggregating results over a number of weeks we do end up with plots that are in line with the theory on VDSL2 speeds.

Speed test results from TalkTalk customers who fit the profile for the 80 Mbps download, 20 Mbps upload service

Speed test results from TalkTalk customers who fit the profile for the 80 Mbps download, 20 Mbps upload service

The slightly cheaper fibre service which TalkTalk sell is Fibre Medium which is limited to a 40 Mbps download and a much slower 2 Mbps upload speed turns out to be more popular with visitors to our site, and while it is tempting to try and estimate how many fibre customers TalkTalk has, we suspect that with people looking to brag about their new found speed will be using speed tests more than those where their speed has changed little over the course of a couple of years. Around 1 in 5 of the speed tests we recorded for TalkTalk were on a fibre service, which is a lot higher than the proportion of fibre customers at the provider.

TalkTalk Fibre Medium Broadband Speeds

Speed Test results from Talktalk customers who fit the profile for the 40 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload product

To help interpret the graphs lets through some numbers into the mix:

Product Average Speed (Mbps) Median Speed ASA Compliant Speed
Fibre Large Download (up to 80 Mbps) 38.1 36.9 70.8
Fibre Large Upload (up to 20 Mbps) 12.7 13.5 18.6
Fibre Medium Download (up to 40 Mbps) 25.3 26.6 36.7
Fibre Medium Upload (up to 2 Mbps) 1.7 1.8 1.9
ADSL2+ Download 6.4 5.3 13.6
ADSL2+ Upload 0.6 0.7 0.8

The thing that jumps out from the table, is that the upload speeds on the Fibre Large service exceed even the download speed for almost all ADSL2+ users, reflecting the significant improvement in speeds that the 80/20 FTTC service represents. With an average upload speed of 12.7 Mbps the Fibre Large product is fast enough to upload HD quality clips in real time or faster to YouTube. We wonder whether these vastly improved upload speeds are encouraging more people to generate content and upload it to sites such as YouTube, flickr and Vimeo.

TalkTalk ADSL2+ Service Speeds

Speed test results from customers who fit the ADSL2+ speed profile

The ADSL2+ download speeds show a different shape to the VDSL (FTTC) based services, and the plateau around 7.5 Mbps suggests that TalkTalk may still have a fair chunk of customers who could go faster on ADSL2+, but are held back by their product choice e.g. a customer on an old contract with one of the providers TalkTalk acquired over the years who does not want to migrate to a new set of TalkTalk terms and conditions for more speed.  Given that TalkTalk has only a few hundred thousand customers stuck on the old BT Wholesale IPStream Max versus millions on their own LLU platform we don’t think this kink represents just off-net users.

TalkTalk ADSL2+ Upload Speeds

Upload speeds from TalkTalk customers who appear to be on ADSL2+ or ADSL based product.

The plot of the upload speeds for ADSL2+ connections which we have done on its graph to help emphasis the oddities suggests that TalkTalk appears to a cluster of  people who are on a service with an upload sync speed around 440-448 Kbps (380 Kbps throughput) and another at 288 Kbps (250 Kbps throughput). If this was a betting game, after looking at the ADSL2+ download speeds, we have a feeling that most of the people getting what looked like capped speeds are old Tiscali customers.


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6 Responses

  1. ScubaGirl on 09 May 2013

    Too many people test their connections with WiFi. This negatively affects their connection speeds.

    Also I recently upgraded to an 80/20 connection. I ran multiple speed tests with the small collection of computers I have and managed to achieve a range of results that were influenced hugely by the computer I was using, not the connection.

    My oldest computer achieved the best results.

  2. Trevor on 16 May 2013

    My problem with TalkTalk was not the speed (that was always consistently slow) but the breaks in service. Impossible to use at the weekends, when it could disappear for hours – is that because TalkTalk were sharing my libe with too many people?

    • Julian on 20 May 2013

      I have been suffering from this problem over the last week end and this morning (May 20).

      The first I see is the browser hang, then the connection indicator on the bottom menu bar go out. So I look at my router and see that the ‘PPP’ light has gone out. The problem seems to resolve after a minute but by then the browser has given up and declared time-out. Very, very annoying.

  3. greg smith on 11 Feb 2014

    I had the 80 meg fiber I got 60 meg for 2 weeks then for 6 months I got 21-23 talktalk just fafed me about passing me from piller to post but never sorted it
    when I quoted the agreement they made that they would give 60 meg or there abouts or allow me to cancel they first denied it then said yes that’s true then I asked for cancel they said yes then spent 2 months denying it until finally canceled however then they billed me £800 I got it sorted eventually but I will never use them again not in a million years

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