Thursday 23 February 2012

Third of UK homes suffer from poor broadband

Despite the promise of UK-wide super-fast broadband, new research shows just how many areas of the country are being left behind in the high-speed broadband revolution.

More than a third (34%) of UK postcodes receive average broadband download speeds of 5 Mbp/s or less, almost a quarter have average speeds of 4 Mbp/s or less, and one in 10 has speeds of 3 Mbp/s or less – at least six times slower than even the basic super-fast broadband speed of 20 Mbp/s.

The data - based on 1.68 million broadband speed tests carried out by home and business broadband users over the past six months - reveals that despite major investment by providers into upgrading Britain’s urban broadband infrastructure, there is still a significant number of larger towns and cities across the country that have download speeds well below the UK average of 6.742 Mbp/s.

The cathedral city of Hereford has a population of more than 55,000, and yet average download speeds are a pedestrian 3.196 Mbp/s, more than 50% slower than the national average. Lancaster, with a sizeable population of almost 134,000 and home to two universities, is also below the national average speed, at 5.479 Mbp/s. At this speed, it would take just under 24 minutes to download a standard quality 1.5GB movie.

These figures bring into sharp focus the challenge the Government faces if it is to fulfil the pledge made back in December 2010[5] that everyone in the UK would have access to super-fast broadband by 2015. More than 12 months down the line and that target appears to be a long way off, with large swathes of Britain still having to make do with broadband speeds that are more snail’s pace than super-fast.

When it comes to the worst broadband blackspots in Britain, it is clear that it’s still the UK’s smaller towns and villages that are suffering from a serious bout of broadband lethargy, having to endure frustratingly slow speeds of below 2 Mbp/s which make surfing the internet a chore.
In our part of the world Richmond and Helmsley in North Yorkshire have to struggle with just over 2 Mbps.

However, with an average broadband speed of just 1.11 Mbp/s, Winchelsea a small village in East Sussex, currently holds the unenviable title of having the slowest average broadband speed of any postcode in the UK, six times slower than the national average.
Britain might be riding the wave of a super-fast broadband revolution, but for the 49% who get less than the national average broadband speed, the wave isn’t causing so much a splash as a ripple. And what’s really surprising is the number of cities and towns such as Hereford and Carlisle that are suffering from slow broadband speeds, dispelling the view that it’s just rural areas and small towns that have issues with their broadband.

It is important to remember that the fastest headline speeds being punted by some broadband providers are not guaranteed and home broadband users should run online broadband speed tests to check they’re getting the best possible performance. If broadband users feel the service they’re receiving is not up to scratch, don’t be afraid to shop around for a better deal.

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