U.K. broadband below advertised speed

Less than half get 8MB-per-second speed offered

LONDON -- U.K. broadband customers are being short-changed by Internet service providers, often receiving much slower speeds than advertised, media regulator Ofcom said Thursday.

The research found that as many as one in five consumers signed up to services offering "up to 8MB/second" had to make do with average speeds of less than 2MB/second on the service while less than half of all customers received the 8MB/second access speed.

U.K. consumers received an average broadband speed of 3.6MB/second, compared with the average advertised maximum speed of 4.3MB/second.

Urban areas had speeds that were on average 15% higher than rural customers, and speeds were slowest between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday nights.

While users browsing the Internet expressed 93% satisfaction with their Internet service, only 67% of people using their broadband connections to download or watch TV programs or films were satisfied with their service.

Unveiling what it said was "one of the most sophisticated and thorough research programs into the real U.K. broadband speeds," the regulator said it introduced a voluntary code of practice last month for Internet Service Providers that will cover 95% of U.K. customers.