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Ever wonder why sometimes your broadband connection is up to speed and sometimes it’s just too darn slow? You might notice that you’re enjoying top speeds early in the morning, only to have your browser or streaming crawl down to a near halt in the evenings.
Many people use the Internet at all times of the day, but there’s a certain time period where most users go online. That’s what a recent study has reported, calling it the “virtual rush hour” which you can compare to the real rush hour where traffic is barely moving in certain areas of the town or city where you live in. During this period, the study reported that broadband speeds dropped by an average of 35% in the evenings. This is because more users are going online at night, straining broadband networks and wrangling for bandwidth from the lines connected in their area. The study collected data from 2 million broadband speed tests and found that there were huge fluctuations in broadband speeds during peak and off-peak times. The fastest download times were found to be between 2am and 3am with speeds of up to 9.6Mbps. The slowest speeds were found to be between 7 to 9 in the evening, with speeds dropping by an average of nearly 30% to 6.2Mbps. However, users in Evesham, Worcestershire have it the worst, as the speeds dropped by nearly 69% during the peak period.
Most of the people involved in the study used ADSL connections, which transmit and receive data via BT Broadband’s copper networks. These copper wiring exchanges have limited data capacities, resulting in the harsh competition for bandwidth and for the resulting drops in broadband speeds. As more users are accessing the Internet, streaming music, videos, and other media, and downloading files, the amount of data that each connection can transmit will eventually reach its maximum limit. The study comes as regulator Ofcom reveals that broadband speeds are becoming more important as services such as online gaming services and pay-TV become more and more popular. Ofcom revealed that an average of 17 gigabytes of data are downloaded every month by British users via their home broadband connections.