Research highlights broadband speed disparities

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The slowest broadband in the UK, with an average download speed of 0.14Mbps, is found on Greenmeadows Park in Bamfurlong, Gloucestershire, according to the latest consumer speed tests collected by uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service.

Greenmeadows Park suffers average speeds that are 1,899 times slower than the UK’s fastest street, Abdon Avenue in Birmingham, where average speeds have reached 265.89Mbps over the past year.

In Greenmeadows Park it would take more than 102 hours to download a two-hour HD film on Netflix and at least 38 hours to download a 45-minute HD TV show. By contrast, on Abdon Avenue it would take less than four minutes to download the same film and just 72 seconds to download the same TV show.

According to the research, which is based on more than 279,186 ‘real world’ speed tests run by broadband users over the last year, a quarter (26.3 per cent) struggle with speeds of less than 10Mbps, while one in eight (13.3 per cent) crawl along at less than 5Mbps.

However, the number of broadband users enjoying faster speeds is growing. Nearly a third of users (31 per cent) now get speeds of 30+ Mbps, up from less than a quarter (22 per cent) three years ago. But despite the fact that the availability of superfast broadband services has increased to 95 per cent as of May 2018, a recent uSwitch survey found that only just over half (56 per cent) of Brits believe they can access it in their local area.

Broadband users living in the South West are the most likely to find themselves with superfast speeds. Five of the UK’s fastest broadband streets can be found across Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and Wiltshire. By contrast, if you head north of the Mersey you are more likely to encounter streets that struggle with molasses-like Internet; nine of the slowest streets for broadband can be found in the likes of North and South Yorkshire, Teeside, Manchester and across Scotland.

When it comes to broadband speeds, it’s still very much a postcode lottery. Areas such as South Yorkshire and Cambridge experience some of the fastest – and some of the slowest – broadband, with it being a happy coincidence if you are on one of the streets with a quick service.

In fact, superfast broadband is available on more than a third (35 per cent) of the UK’s slowest streets, but a lack of awareness that a better service is accessible results in many being resigned to poor download speeds.

“This research lays bare the extent of the UK’s digital divide,” stated Dani Warner, broadband expert at uSwitch.com. “Streets that are relatively close geographically can be light years apart when it comes to the download speeds they are getting. It’s almost comical that it would take someone in Bamfurlong more than 100 hours to download a two-hour HD film, such as Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, yet someone living just an hour’s drive away on Abdon Avenue in Birmingham can download the same film in just over four minutes.”

“Awareness of fibre broadband availability continues to be the biggest hurdle to people getting faster download speeds. Over a third of the slowest streets have access to superfast speeds, so people living there have no need to be crawling along on completely unusable Internet services. The industry should be doing more to help consumers understand what sort of broadband they can get at home. And for those who can’t yet obtain faster speeds – which the industry is directly aiming to address with the rollout of full-fibre  – improvements really can’t come soon enough.”

“For households struggling on sluggish Internet connections, it’s worth having a look at a coverage map to give you, at a glance, an overview of the sort of services that are available at your address. If your current broadband doesn’t stack up to what other providers can give you, it might be worth thinking about switching. Just make sure you are outside your initial contract period as you may be stung with a hefty termination fee if not. However, if your speeds are significantly slower than what you were promised when you signed up, you could even be eligible to leave for free.”


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