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UK let down by slow broadband

Parts of Britain are being left behind on access to online services because of slow broadband according to research by King’s College London, who say that many of the regions with the worst Internet access also used modern services the least.

The study compared online logs from half of the country’s population with rates of use of the BBC’s iPlayer. South Ayrshire, Ards and the Isle of Wight were among the areas where people used iPlayer the least. The study also named the East Riding of Yorkshire, North Down and Midlothian as areas of similarly low usage.

When they had compared the regional disparities with Ofcom data on broadband speeds, they had found a positive correlation. Similarly, areas that had used iPlayer a lot, such as London, south Gloucestershire and Bristol, had generally benefited from relatively fast broadband speeds.

“It is clear that high-speed broadband is an important factor in the use of bandwidth-intensive applications such as BBC iPlayer,” said Dr Nishanth Sastry, a senior lecturer at King’s College London (KCL) and the lead researcher.

“With technological advancements, it is likely that more services important to daily life will move online, yet there is a significant proportion of the population with inadequate broadband connections who won’t be able to access such services.”

Ian Watt, a telecommunications consultant with the analyst Ovum, said the research highlighted the “need for ubiquitous high speed broadband access, including the extent to which some rural areas where broadband speeds remain relatively low are being deprived of the full benefits of broadband”.

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