» Editorial Article » 

Top 20 UK Local Authorities with the Highest Superfast Broadband Uptake

Monday, December 31st, 2012 (1:57 am) - Score 1,125

Ofcom’s most recent data reveals that superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP technology is now available to 65% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom and yet just 7% of premises have actually adopted it. But where is superfast internet access most popular and why? The city of Portsmouth tops our new list with a take-up of 15.2%.

ISPreview.co.uk took another look at the regulators latest data and re-organised it to display the top twenty local authority areas where take-up of superfast broadband is highest. As you’d expect the vast majority end up being represented by large towns and cities, which is because the private sector funded roll-out of related services has so far predominantly focused on urban areas (i.e. those most likely to deliver a good return on the ISPs investment).

The Top 20 Local Authority Areas

In these twenty areas the average availability of superfast broadband is a whopping 92.64%, which ranges from a low of 86.8% in Cardiff (Caerdydd, Wales) to a high of 99.1% in Derry (Londonderry, Northern Ireland), and the related take-up of superfast connectivity is 13.69% of premises.

It’s interesting to note that the overall broadband take-up in most of these areas remains a shade above the UK average of 71% (i.e. 73.29% for both superfast and standard broadband in the top 20), which shows that superfast connectivity hasn’t yet had much of an impact on total broadband adoption. This is to be expected when focusing a roll-out on urban areas where good connections already exist. At the same time we shouldn’t forget that urban areas can also suffer from slow connectivity.

Local Authority Average Sync Speed (Mbps) Percentage on Sub-2Mbps Broadband Take-Up Superfast Take-Up
City of Portsmouth 17.9 6.20% 75.00% 15.20%
North East Lincolnshire 22.5 4.40% 65.30% 15.10%
Luton 15.2 10.60% 75.50% 15.00%
Castlereagh 15.4 12.40% 75.00% 14.50%
North Down 13.6 16.60% 74.30% 14.10%
Derry 15.4 12.70% 65.80% 13.90%
Reading 15.8 5.30% 77.10% 13.90%
Wokingham 13.9 12.90% 84.80% 13.90%
Belfast 19.2 5.60% 64.10% 13.70%
Dundee City 20.4 5.30% 68.30% 13.60%
City of Brighton and Hove 15.3 5.20% 84.80% 13.60%
Lisburn 13.7 21.80% 70.10% 13.50%
Caerdydd – Cardiff 15.6 11.00% 74.80% 13.40%
Newtownabbey 14.5 12.70% 75.20% 13.30%
West Dunbartonshire 19 4.60% 67.20% 13.30%
Hertfordshire County 16 9.50% 78.00% 13.10%
Solihull District 17 6.80% 73.80% 12.90%
City of Bristol 16 3.20% 75.10% 12.80%
Hartlepool 18.8 14.70% 62.10% 12.50%
Medway 17.7 10.20% 79.50% 12.50%

As you’d expect the average broadband “sync” speed for such areas, which comes in at 16.64Mbps (Megabits per second), is also higher than the national UK average of 12.7Mbps but not significantly so. Take note that sync speeds are more like a best line performance estimate, while real-world performance usually comes in a little lower. Ofcom’s August 2012 biannual speeds report found that real performance was closer to 9Mbps for the UK as a whole.

Furthermore we noted that high availability of broadband, be it delivered via superfast or standard broadband technology, doesn’t always seem to improve the percentage of connections that can currently receive a speed of less than 2Mbps. Even Derry, where superfast services are available to 99.1% of local premises, still reports that 12.70% have sub-2Mbps speeds.

Laura Kell, Point Topic (Telecoms Analyst), said recently:

The digital divide isn’t just urban versus rural – it is becoming more and more another case of rich versus poor. Accessibility isn’t just about the physical availability of a network but the desire and financial ability of local populations to adopt broadband. This isn’t an issue just in remote rural areas but affects take-up in poorer inner cities too.”

Clearly the concept of “build it and they will come” can, in practice, often be a lot harder to get right, especially with issues like price continuing to be a significant barrier (superfast packages are often +£5 to £15 a month more expensive than traditional broadband services); this should improve over time. Lack of awareness about availability may be another factor, as too could be the fact that some superfast technologies (e.g. FTTC) often get a lot slower for homes that reside further away from their local street cabinet.

Meanwhile the government is investing around £1bn of public money, which must be matched by councils and the private sector, to help extend the reach of superfast broadband services to 90% of UK people by 2015 (the last 10% will still have to put up with minimum speeds of at least 2Mbps). This is important because the private sector investment, such as BT’s separate £2.5bn commitment, is only expected to help related services reach 66% of the UK.

On top of that the forthcoming 4G auction should make faster Mobile Broadband services available to “at least” 98% of people by around 2017. Combined these efforts, which will start to return the first tangible results during 2013 (i.e. upgrading old infrastructure), should help to extend superfast connectivity into many poorly served semi-urban and rural areas where there is often perceived to be a greater demand for such servers (i.e. because existing connections are often slow and unreliable).

But it’s interesting to note that some of the cities on our list, such as Brighton and Hove, Portsmouth and even Derry of all places, have recently won public Urban Broadband Funding (UBF) to help build ultra-fast broadband (80-100Mbps+) and faster wifi services in areas that have been neglected by the private sector. Some might find such decisions to be questionable, given the already high availability of faster connectivity.

It will be good to see how all this work changes the current level of national superfast broadband uptake.

Ofcoms Interactive UK Broadband and Mobile Maps

Leave a Comment
10 Responses
  1. Avatar dragoneast says:

    Why can’t this sort of information be given in a meaningful form by telephone exchange? I thought Ofcom was supposed to be the regulator – the one that sets the rules.

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      Follow the Ofcom link and you can get information for every postcode the summary is based on. Zero point in presenting it as exchanges as postcodes are more granular and Virgin Media cable bears no relation to exchange areas.

    2. Avatar dragoneast says:

      OK, was late at night and didn’t check. So from a snapshot of my street (a single postcode) in an affluent suburban village in the south-east with below par ADSL (4.6Mbps) speeds and a 50:50 mix of young pros/families and silver surfers the FTTC take up is 2 houses out of 18 after 18 months of availability! (I have FTTC with speed over 30Mbps). Hardly the sign of a desperate need is it? Both of us took it in the first month. Surrounding streets look very similar, the best seems to have double the take-up.

      My suspicion has always been that the public need lags way behind the headlines at up to 10Mbps services (even for homeworking) and things aren’t going to change quickly. Apart from a few enthusiasts, most people have a life; and are used to rationing so that everybody isn’t trying to use the same thing at once, and it’s quite a useful habit to have in life rather than “I’ll do what I want and b**** everyone else” (unless perhaps you’re practising for being a banker or a politician). I even have well-educated friends who are pleased with what they can do on their 1-2Mbps connections – I seem to be the only one “with the problem” who gets frustrated when visiting.

  2. Avatar Michael says:

    Even presented like this it is 110% (see what i did there 😉 ) meaningless….
    quote”…..superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP services are now available to 65% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom and yet just 7% of premises have actually adopted it. But where is superfast internet access most popular and why? The city of Portsmouth tops our new list with a take-up of 15.2%”

    Unless im blind im still trying to see anywhere on the list that has an average speed of “25Mbs” or higher. It does not need Einstein to work out “25Mbps+” MEANS the average speed should be 25Mbps or ABOVE 25Mbps not BELOW it. You can not say something runs at a certain rate or higher but then deem something to be that product when it is slower…… Well not in reality but this is Ofcom and I assume FTTC. So i suppose looking at it in that flawed manner it makes perfect sense 😛

    1. Avatar Ignitionnet says:

      The average sync speed includes the overwhelming majority who aren’t on >25Mbps services Michael hence being below that level.

      The data covers FTTC/P and Virgin Media cable – FTTC is not available to 65% of the country at this time.

  3. Avatar Michael says:

    I fail to see how the figures can include Virgin Media Cable, the article states at the beginning…
    “(25Mbps+) ISP technology is now available to 65% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom and yet just 7% of premises have actually adopted it.”

    So unless Virgin Media have only a market share of 7% or less in this country (BTs total customer base is around 6 Million Virgins around 4 Million) I somehow think that does not equate.

    Further more some of the areas in the FULL list do not even have Virgin Media available.

    FTTC must also perform very poorly in some areas of the country.

    Looking at Moyle, which is an area with the smallest take up of broadband services overall on the full list (41.10%) and looking at the Superfast percentage taken (9.80%) that equates to almost a quarter (or well over 20%) of customers in that area having a so called superfast (25+Mbps) connection yet the average download speed for the area gets NOwhere near the much hyped UPTO 80Mbps mark, its actually only 14.6Mbps.

    Surely that should be A LOT higher if you have a quarter of an area on so called UPTO 80Mb connections???

    In fact is the minimum speed allowed before its considered a fault on FTTC 15Mbps?

    By my rough maths (and assuming the rest of them (around 75%) on regular ADSL broadband get the UK Average of around 9-10Mb rates) then the average FTTC rate in that area must only be around 20-25Mb for the overall average speed for the area to come out at 14.6Mbps.

    Either the data is wrong/flawed or FTTC in some parts is rubbish.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Ofcom’s data is from June 2012, which came only a few months after Virgin announced their double speeds upgrade and Q1 results. At that time many of their customers were still on the older (10Mbps and 20Mbps) packages and most hadn’t been upgraded. Back in Q1-2012 just 20% of Virgin’s cable broadband base (850,000) took its 30Mbps or faster services.

      I expect the uptake figure will shoot up by the next infrastructure report as Virgin’s upgrade scheme will have completed.

  4. Avatar Michael says:

    Errr that still makes it flawed, the statement of….
    “(25Mbps+) ISP technology is now available to 65% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom and yet just 7% of premises have actually adopted it.”

    1. Because it says (NOW AVAILABLE TO 65%) rather mid last year. Is the 65% figure NOW or mid last year?
    2. Because back prior to June the figure was not 65%.
    3. Heck even ofcoms various reports published in July and August 2012 did not even put the figure at 65%

    If that 65% figure is correct as of today what is it doing being quoted with a 7% figure dating back to the first quarter of 2012???

    It doesnt look to me as if Virgins data is even included in this report. Even if the figures are based back in the first half of 2012 in addition to the 850,000 That had 30+Mb at that time a further 250,000 had been upgraded, of that 850,000 they had 250,000 already on 50-100Mb.

    BTs own figures for Q1 showed 550,000 of there 6,280,000 Million had taken FTTC…

    That on its own without even factoring in Virgins figure shows more than 7% (its as good as 8.75% of BTs customers on its own) taking a “superfast 25+Mb” broadband service. Unless of course BT were talking nonsense as usual. This is more likely where the (incorrectly calculated) 7% comes from.

    Either way somewhere from someone data is flawed.

  5. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

    Just go read the Ofcom report in full Deduction, for all your clarification needs, or ask the regulator directly; that’s why it’s clearly linked in the original piece (you’ll never get every little detail from a brief news summary):


  6. Avatar Michael says:

    So the statement of “OFCOMS MOST RECENT DATA reveals that superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP technology is now available to 65% of homes and businesses in the United Kingdom and yet just 7% of premises have actually adopted it.”

    Your link refers to http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/other/telecoms-research/broadband-speeds/infrastructure-report-2012/ where the 65% figure is based in June 2012. I think you will find another report was done around November 2012. So not most recent.

    The 7% figure mentioned both in this news item and that report is also contradictory to the information BT provided prior to June 2012 which i have linked to above. BT back before May 2012 were claiming a higher take up amount than 7%. (almost 9%)

    Which figures are inaccurate, Ofcoms or BTs?

    Oh and PS i am not the user named Deduction sorry to dissapoint.

Comments are closed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Vodafone £22.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Hyperoptic £22.00
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Onestream £22.49 (*29.99)
    Avg. Speed 45Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • xln telecom £22.74 (*47.94)
    Avg. Speed 66Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Plusnet £22.99 (*36.52)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £55 Reward Card
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (2829)
  2. BT (2799)
  3. FTTC (1796)
  4. Building Digital UK (1761)
  5. Politics (1690)
  6. Openreach (1647)
  7. Business (1460)
  8. FTTH (1342)
  9. Mobile Broadband (1258)
  10. Statistics (1257)
  11. 4G (1083)
  12. Fibre Optic (1072)
  13. Wireless Internet (1038)
  14. Ofcom Regulation (1030)
  15. Virgin Media (1022)
  16. EE (716)
  17. Vodafone (684)
  18. Sky Broadband (678)
  19. TalkTalk (676)
  20. 5G (540)
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact