Households hooked on technology put wireless broadband under strain

Our obsession with tablets and other Wi-Fi enabled gadgets means speeds are being stretched to their limit - but is superfast broadband helping or does it turn us into even bigger addicts?

Our broadband is under more strain than ever as households increasingly have oodles of gadgets all using the Wi-Fi at the same time.

A study by Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, found the average home now has at least three connected devices - smartphones, tablets, games consoles and smart TVs - while around 20% of households have six or more.

Over half of all Brits now own a smartphone and 24% of homes have at least one tablet, one of the most popular uses for which is bandwidth-hungry streaming of TV and movies on demand, which 56% said they do at least weekly.

One in 10 households has more than one tablet and 50% say they couldn't live without.

According to Ofcom's research, the UK's current average broadband speed is a far-from-superfast 12Mb, and as a result many have problems with 'buffering' or slow browsing when lots of gadgets are all connected simultaneously.

Although superfast broadband is now available to almost three-quarters of UK homes, only 20% have so far upgraded to a fibre optic service, which offer speeds of up to 100Mb or even more in some areas.

Ofcom's survey revealed that 80% of superfast customers were more than happy with their broadband speeds, which had met or exceeded their original expectations.

Almost three-quarters admitted they'd also increased the amount of TV and movies they stream over the broadband since getting faster speeds.

A recent study by YouView, the digital set-top box available to BT and TalkTalk broadband customers - combining Freeview channels with catch-up and on-demand TV delivered over the internet - found the UK now watches 20% of its telly online.

While 75% of the people surveyed said they use their main television for most viewing, online streaming was found to be responsible for six hours of TV on average per week.

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