Why are broadband speeds listed as ‘up to’?

Broadband speed is more complicated than it first appears.

The truth is, the speed you can get depends on more than just the connection the ISP has sold you.

The maximum speed possible for your broadband depends on where you live and how many other people are sharing the connection, which can slow down in the post-work ‘rush hour’, or first thing in the morning.

And a connection can only be as fast as its slowest point.

Connecting to a server involves communicating over a long network made up of lots of different parts – your broadband line is just one part of this long connection.

Even if you’re on an incredibly fast 1000Mbps broadband speed, connecting to a server that can only handle 10Mbps means you’ll experience a 10Mbps.

ISPs often can’t guarantee the speed you’ll get until you’re actually connected, so their speeds are listed as the maximum ‘up to’ value instead.

The law might change in future to stop ISPs selling broadband with these ‘up to’ speeds, because only a small proportion of people ever get the fastest possible speeds.

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