Superfast Broadband Awareness Low, But Higher In Rural Areas

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Research suggest there is confusion about the availability of superfast broadband in the UK

Rural consumers are more likely to be aware of superfast broadband being available in their area than those living in urban areas, but just a third of all Internet users believe they are able to receive fibre services, despite 78 percent of the UK being covered.

Research from uSwitch shows 44 percent of web users have no idea whether they are covered, but awareness of fibre is much higher in rural areas afflicted by slow speeds, with just 28 percent of users unaware of its availability. This figure rises to 44 percent in urban areas and 52 percent in suburban households.

Under a third are aware of superfast broadband packages offered by providers other than BT or Virgin Media an 15 percent have no idea of any provider offering fibre.

Superfast broadband awareness

FibreHowever, with 65 percent of Internet users in the UK considered to be ‘moderate’ or ‘heavy’ users, 72 percent said they would be willing to pay more for superfast broadband. Most are prepared to spend an additional £5, but fibre packages are generally £9 more expensive than standard subscription fees.

“Despite significant investment in superfast broadband, this research shows awareness – over whether you can get fibre broadband, and who offers it – is still one of the biggest barriers to enjoying superfast speeds,” said Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch. “Many people are willing to spend extra each month for faster internet, but don’t know whether or not it is available in their area.

“Consumers who are interested in superfast broadband should do their research to make sure they are considering all available providers. Using tools such as a postcode checker will allow you to see which providers offer fibre in your area and what speeds you can receive before you commit.

“Whilst the government’s latest superfast advertising campaign may help to stimulate demand, more needs to be done to make the availability and benefits of fibre clear, making sure consumers are notified by broadband providers when it’s live in their area and that homes are clear on the benefits superfast speeds can offer.”

The government-subsidised Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme aims to ensure there is 95 percent superfast coverage by 2017 while the Super Connected cities scheme provides grants to small businesses if they upgrade to fibre.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) had not responded to TechWeekEurope’s requests for comment at the time of publication.

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