UK cities fail to offer superfast broadband

Not one of the UK’s 50 major cities has yet to reach average download speeds of 24Mbps – the government’s definition of superfast broadband

Superfast broadband may be a hot industry topic but average download speeds across the UK show it is not standard yet.

A survey by uSwitch claims the highest average broadband speed of the UK’s top 50 towns and cities was provided in Telford but reached just under 23Mbps – 1Mbps less than the government’s current definition of superfast broadband.

Belfast came in second place with 20.82Mbps, but the other capital cities were even further away from the target, with Edinburgh’s 17.88Mbps average putting it in 19th place, London’s 16.97 placing it at 26th and Cardiff’s 16.90Mbps making it 27th.

The report also claimed 27% of broadband users across the UK were receiving connections of less than 3Mbps, with 19% of Londoners falling into this group.

uSwitch admitted speeds had risen at a very fast rate in some areas, with the average in Leeds shooting up 87% since 2012 to 18.5Mbps. However, even in Norwich, where the average speed has risen by 75%, it is still one of the slowest cities at 11.6Mbps and 35% of residents are still not achieving more than 3Mbps.

The figures follow a publication by Ofcom last week which claimed three quarters of UK households now had access to superfast broadband connections. However, although adoption levels were up to 22%, there was still a way to go before everyone began to benefit from speedier connectivity – even if it doesn’t reach the government definition.

“The Government’s blinkered focus on bringing superfast connections to 95% of Britain by 2017 is all very well but, if they pull it off, it’s only half the battle won,” said Marie-Louise Abretti, telecoms expert at uSwitch.

“If people don’t actually use super-fast broadband because it’s too expensive, or they don’t know they can get it, then what’s the point? Uptake will be heavily dependent on both price and awareness.”

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications