Research shows Middlesbrough and Belfast outpace London, but just 22 out of 42 urban areas have averages of 24Mbps or greater
Hull has the slowest broadband of any major UK town or city according to figures from uSwitch, which found nearby Middlesbrough had the best speeds.
According to more than 500,000 speed tests, conducted over a six month period, just 22 towns and cities have average speeds of more than 24Mbps – a number which does not count London or Edinburgh.
Middlesbrough’s average of 34.46Mbps beat Belfast (34.34Mbps) and Brighton (33.8Mbps) into second and third places, while Hull’s 12.42Mbps was comfortably the worst of the 42 towns and cities tested. Aberdeen in Scotland was the second slowest with 15.67Mbps, with Milton Keynes betraying its status as a modern town with just 17.1Mbps.
Of greater concern was the fact that 30 percent of users can’t get speeds greater than 5Mbps and just 10 percent get above 10Mbps. Ofcom claims the UK average broadband speed rose by 27 percent from 22.8Mbps to 28.9Mbps in 2015 as coverage and adoption of superfast broadband accelerated.
BT claims the Openreach fibre network now reaches 90 percent of UK premises and the government has set itself a target of 95 percent superfast broadband coverage by the end of 2017, with significant amounts of public money handed out through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative.
uSwitch says its figures suggest adoption of fibre has been sluggish.
“The UK’s cities should be leading the charge when it comes to broadband speeds, yet just 22 cities have broadband users with average speeds of more than 24Mbps,” said Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch. “With capital cities like London and Edinburgh not on that list, we should be asking what more can be done to encourage the adoption of superfast broadband now it’s so widely available.
“Our data suggests take up isn’t high enough – even in our biggest cities. With fibre ever more available, home broadband users need to know it’s there, and it needs to be priced right, too.”
Hull, capital of slow broadband
Hull, the UK’s city of culture for 2017, now has the unofficial title of the UK’s city of slow broadband. It is not covered by Openreach and is instead served by KCOM, which has been responsible for the rollout of superfast broadband in the city and surrounding area of East Yorkshire.
Unlike BT, which is using fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) for the majority of its superfast broadband rollout, KCOM is using fibre to the premise (FTTP). It claimed in a recent interview with TechWeekEurope that the unique characteristics of the network allow it to do this more cost effectively than BT would be able to do nationally. However it appears as though rollout has been slower than in the rest of the UK.
“Although KCOM is currently rolling out ultrafast-capable, fibre-to-the-home connections in Hull, actual speed tests taken by broadband users would suggest this hasn’t reached enough homes yet to make an impact on the average,” Taylor Gibson.
Broadband campaigners in Hull claim a lack of competition means KCOM has little incentive to accelerate the rollout of fibre in the city, but the company has defended its upgrade programme, which it says will reach 200,000 properties by 2018.
“Uswitch have got one thing right: Hull’s broadband infrastructure is unique,” said a KCOM spokesperson. “We’re rolling out ultrafast fibre to the home across Hull and East Yorkshire which means speeds of 250Mbps are available to consumers right now. We think that’s why take up is much higher than the national average, with a new customer connecting to fibre every 30 minutes.”