Britain Still Lagging In Broadband League Table

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New figures from Akamai have revealed that Britain’s broadband network continues to trail rival European nations

The UK is lagging behind many nations in broadband speeds, even though it saw modest gains in the first three months of the year, Akamai’s first quarter ‘State of the Internet’ report has revealed

Despite all the investment in fibre by BT, the UK remains in a distant 21st position, with an average connection speed of 5.6 Mbps, although average connection speeds were much improved on the 4.9Mbps the UK achieved in the last quarter of 2011.

Looking at the first quarter of this year, it is clear the UK really has its work cut out for it when comparing “high broadband” (i.e. superfast broadband) quality. The UK position here in the Akamai’s EMEA league table is 27th, behind the likes of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Portugal.

Akamai has redefined what superfast broadband is, now relating it to connections of 10Mbps or greater.

Speed tables

The Akamai report reveals that global adoption of superfast reached 10 percent, up 19 percent quarter-over-quarter. It found that among the top 10 countries for high broadband adoption, South Korea topped the list with 53 percent penetration. Japan (37 percent), Hong Kong (28 percent), Latvia (26 percent) and the Netherlands (24 percent) rounded out the top five.

The average global connection speed in the first quarter was 2.6 Mbps.

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The research also revealed that just 6.5 percent of the UK qualifies as having superfast broadband. It found that 58 percent of the UK receives normal broadband speeds (4Mbps or above).

The findings will infuriate many people in the UK, where many remain trapped in the broadband slow lane.

The government has promised the best superfast broadband in Europe by 2015, and hopes to achieve download speeds of 24Mbps for 90 percent of the UK’s 25 million households by that date.

But last month a House of Lords committee slammed the government’s strategy to roll out superfast broadband in the UK, saying it was preoccupied with speed and not about ensuring decent access for all. It also said the current BDUK process favours BT and that not enough is being done to encourage Altnets.

And former BT CTO Peter Cochrane also waded into the argument last week when he repeated his criticism of the UK’s broadband network, when he was reported as saying that that the government’s lack of a vision, mission or plan in its implementation of broadband is hampering the UK economy.

BT meanwhile told Techweek Europe that the situation, on a whole, is improving.

“The UK doesn’t fair particularly well in Akamai’s speed league tables although the figures indicate that it is improving,” said a BT spokesperson. “However, people should be wary as there are different speeds reports issued every month and the figures seem to vary according to the methodology used. For example, broadband.co.uk issued one just a week ago claiming much faster speeds for the UK.”

“The only thing that is clear is that the gap between the UK and East Asia is far less than many have suggested with the report showing speeds of around 16Mbps  and 10Mbps for Korea and Japan respectively,” said BT. “To put that in context BT is making fibre offers speeds of up to 80Mbps widely available and Virgin  now offers its customers a minimum of 30Mbps.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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