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Public WiFi Internet Speeds at Major London Airports Have Got Worse

Friday, February 3rd, 2017 (3:28 pm) - Score 821
wifi wireless signal

The quality and performance of Public WiFi Hotspots in the United Kingdom often leaves much to be desired, but if you were expecting it to be better at 5 of the busiest airports around the Greater London area then think again. In fact the speeds have actually got worse!

The latest study, which was conducted by Thinkbroadband during November 2016 and then compared with the results from September 2015, appears to be based off an on-foot visit to the Gatwick (LGW), Heathrow (LHR), Luton (LTN), Stanstead (STN) and London City Airports (LCY).

However, while the country’s fixed broadband and 4G based Mobile Broadband performance might be getting faster, major airports seem to be going in the other direction.

Airport 2015 2016
Stansted 8.1 Mbps 6.4 Mbps
London City 4.5 Mbps 2.7 Mbps
Heathrow 1.0 Mbps 1.0 Mbps
Luton 4.5 Mbps 0.9 Mbps
Gatwick 0.5 Mbps 0.4 Mbps

The results should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt because the study doesn’t clarify what hardware was used, at what time(s) of day the testing was conducted or indeed how many tests were made. Never the less our own personal experience of using free airport WiFi at LGW, LHR and LCY would appear to support TBB’s findings.

On the other hand many airports also offer a choice of different WiFi hotspots (cafes and restaurants etc.), with most being free and others being premium, which means that the performance can vary and sadly these weren’t examined. In other words it’s likely that faster services do exist and thus those who only connect via the airports own free WiFi are unlikely to get the best speeds.

In an ideal world we’d expect London’s airports, which are among the busiest in the world, to be putting more effort into their WiFi infrastructure. Passengers often have to spend a great deal of time waiting for flights, which makes being able to get online an important tool for work or other distractions; especially as mobile (3G and 4G) doesn’t always work as well as we’d like.

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Mark Jackson
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.
Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar wirelesspacman

    Too many parents keeping their bundles of joy quiet by letting them stream video I expect! 🙂

  2. Avatar Billy

    Too good a money making scheme. When did UK airports do anything free. You can’t even get a free drink of water at most of them. You can get both free water and free wifi in most third world airports but not in the UK.

    • Avatar wireless pacman

      Hmm.. good point, though I seem to remember seeing water fountains last time I was at T5.

      Wifi wise, have to admit I tend not to bother much these days as the 3/4G coverage has been fine.

    • At LGW in December I saw a water fountain in one section of the airport with mould growing underneath and a murky grey/green discolouration around the outlet. I chose not to use the fountain for fear of death. Could be a cunning ploy to encourage the purchase of more overpriced bottled water.

  3. Avatar ABC

    Major London airports would be a more appropriate title.

  4. Avatar Rich

    Title is bit misleading. **Breaking News** there are major airports outside London!!

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