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Study of the 30 Biggest UK Post Towns Shows Big Broadband Speed Divide

Thursday, March 28th, 2013 (12:24 am) - Score 5,231

A new study from uSwitch, which is based on data from 900,000 anecdotal internet speed tests (conducted between December 1st 2012 and February 28th 2013), has revealed a huge difference of up to 89% in broadband ISP speeds between postcode districts within each of the 30 biggest UK “post” towns.

The research, when taken purely at face value, claims that in Birmingham there is a “staggering” 89% difference in average internet download speeds between the slowest and fastest postcode districts.

For example, the fastest postcode district (B42) in Birmingham received an average speed of 20.9Mbps (Megabits) and the slowest (B35) had just 2.2Mbps. It’s a similar story in many other areas too.

top_30_uk_broadband_post_towns_speed_difference

As usual with such studies it’s important not to read too much into the data. Service speeds can fluctuate for all sorts of reasons, not least if the bulk of tests were conducted at peak (busy) periods instead of off-peak (daytime) ones (sadly uSwitch doesn’t specify but they did recently conduct a related study).

Similarly many of the “slowest” postcode districts do still have access to a superfast broadband (24Mbps+) service but not all consumers will either be aware of this or willing to pay the extra in order to upgrade. Many superfast packages typically attract a monthly premium of around £10 extra and can also come with a higher install charge.

Likewise faster speeds may often be available over even slower ADSL/ADSL2+ technology but the connectivity to individual premises could suffer due to poor home wiring and other factors (e.g. slow wifi networks) that would not be clear through such testing. Suffice to say.. take with a big pinch of salt.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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13 Responses
  1. Chris Conder says:

    I have many relatives in urban areas who can’t hold a skype call, due to the reasons you list above. Until we all have a fit for purpose connection we’ll never be a digital nation. The old copper phone network is letting so many people down. Bring on some fibre. Moral and optic.

    1. TheFacts says:

      Hence why fibre to the cabinets.

    2. Ignitionnet says:

      Who pays though Chris? Assuming the same 20% uptake as seen elsewhere on commercial FTTP networks you’re talking over 5k per subscriber in up front costs. How is this to be recouped given regulated Openreach profit levels?

      It’s not like Openreach can recover the copper right now, it has to stay, so they can’t make significant operating efficiency gains from that to pay the bill.

      If you can come up with a viable model for widespread FTTP deployment that offers a reasonable payback I have no doubt BT would be very, very interested.

      Regrettably those of us in the urban areas can’t simply JFDI, councils aren’t too keen on people cutting through pavements and, as I’m sure you’re aware, with the presence of various other utilities under the ground and the costs of laying ducting underground it’s an expensive enterprise – look at the costs from Amsterdam’s Cityfibre project, or that KPN intended to deploy FTTP in a number of areas and ended up scaling the project back due to cost and low uptake.

      FTTC with FTTPoD putting some of the costs of the complete fibre build into private hands alongside a longer term regulatory framework allowing retirement of copper, and a VULA product over FTTx to replace LLU is probably about as good as it can get right now. Openreach deploying point to point fibre would’ve been the ideal but there is no business case in their doing so given it would permit physical unbundling.

      In many ways the UK’s FTTx climate is a victim of the LLU product set’s success. People are used to very cheap broadband and regulation is geared towards unbundled products meaning the Japanese or Korean models weren’t going to work, and the economics are such that Singapore’s model isn’t an option in any bar small areas – see Hyperoptic.

      Nothing to do with moral fibre, all about who pays. If I were a BT shareholder I would object rather strongly to the idea that it should be me, and as a tax payer I object most strongly to the idea that it should be me.

    3. dragoneast says:

      Exactly, it’s all about the economics which all the critics choose to ignore. Unfortunately the politicians mis-sold privatisation when they told us that we could have the cheapest prices and world-class leading investment. There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The shareholders/investors won’t pay for no return, the taxpayer can’t so it’s all down to what the consumer will pay: no thanks when everything else is going up as well to pay for past neglect.

      The government has already screwed both BT and local Councils for all it can get to supplement BDUK funds. And it’s now doing the same for other infrastructure (roads/rail) and banging supplements on the energy bills of the same consumers. Moral fibre doesn’t pay the bills.

    4. Ignitionnet says:

      Given BDUK is a central government subsidy to BT I’m not convinced that BT are getting screwed for anything. A lot of wrong can be said about the government, screwing BT over isn’t one of those wrongs.

    5. dragoneast says:

      I don’t know the details of BT’s accounts: true. But I was thinking of the match funding required by the tenders – and which it seems no-one else could match?

    6. dragoneast says:

      And just for the record I didn’t in any way imply it is wrong for Government to screw BT: it’s exactly what they should be doing, but don’t seem to often: screwing down hard on their large commercial contractors.

    7. FibreFred says:

      Your moral and optic will be available to millions via FTTP on demand shortly 🙂

  2. Gadget says:

    We’re all agreed fibre is good, the issue is how to pay for it. Didn’t someone on this forum once scale up B4RN to cover the rest of the country and still end up needing to find billions, even if you could get a real tractor down the roads of Chelsea rather than an SUV?

  3. 3G Infinity says:

    Should also add figures for Basingstoke, best is customers on Virgin with 100, then BT in select areas with usual 24mbps but many have DSL at 512kbps if that’s possible and it is – http://www.facebook.com/groups/323249788054/

    1. dragoneast says:

      So the question is: how do you increase the take up of BT VDSL in the areas that have it to increase the commercial ROI so as to extend its footprint faster in the towns, villages and suburbs? Because in my area that’s what the BDUK plan expects, with public funds concentrated on those rural areas where a commercial roll-out can never be viable.

    2. Ignitionnet says:

      So Basingstoke wasn’t one of the first areas to get FTTC, and has had I think at least 2 rounds of infills of cabinets since?

  4. fastman says:

    3G Basinstoke – actually over 100 cabs installed for FTTC i know a number of with excess fo 50 meg

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