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Researcher Publishes New Map of Broadband Speed in the United Kingdom

Thursday, July 6th, 2017 (9:18 am) - Score 3,819

A senior researcher at the University College London‘s (UCL) Department of Geography, Oliver O’Brien, has taken data from Ofcom and used it to produce a new map of estimated broadband speeds across the country, which reveals some very familiar Digital Divides between different areas.

The interactive map claims to depict “actual average download speed based on the deal people have signed up for, not the maximum attainable download speed (either theoretical or actual) in an area“. Since this is Ofcom’s “most recent” data then the figures probably reflect optimistic estimates (sync speeds), which often perform a bit better than real-world connections.

Another problem is that the data was compiled by the regulator during June 2016, which makes it over a year out of date (we’ve seen the coverage of “superfast broadband” increase by around 5%+ since then – mostly in rural areas) and on top of that there’s no split by different broadband technology types.

Nevertheless the map still does a good job of showing the broadband slowspots in both urban areas (e.g. central London) and many rural locations (dark red areas), although ideally this sort of data should be contrasted against raw network availability. Many people live in areas with a faster service but they haven’t yet chosen to upgrade.

We should point out that Ofcom have their own Broadband Coverage Maps and Thinkbroadband also do a whole bunch of clever things to display maps by both technology and their own speed testing.

uk broadband speed map oliver o'brien 2017

Leave a Comment
16 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    It certainly reflects “here” much more accurately than the TBB maps. “Superfast” within circa 600m of the cabinet. “Postcode averages” should be more reasonable here because there are so few properties per postcode and only one cabinet serving the whole area.

    At the time the map was compiled it appears that nobody right next to the cabinet had opted for VDSL (it was available) so there’s nothing above 25Mbps showing. Were the data compiled again now I’d expect to see some faster speed dots for the few properties right next to the cabinet.

  2. Avatar TheFacts says:

    Very pretty, but what does it tell us that we did not know?

  3. Avatar George M says:

    Well that map is only correct for my area if you totally ignore all the FTTP connections and assume all broadband is based on ADSL and VDSL.

    Surely OFCOM have mapped out my area which has been FTTP enabled for some 7 years now and consists of several thousand premises passed to date.

  4. Avatar John Miles says:

    I’m not sure of the relevance of this exercise. Being close to the exchange I get 24 Mb/s on ADSL (which is all one needs most of the time), but could get 40-80Mb on FTTC or even faster on VM coax/fibre. So what is my postcode speed ?
    Houses a mile or so away get a 8-10 Mb on ADSL and no FTTC option. Go just a hundred yds beyond that a new exchange area starts and they get < 5 Mb (because that exchange is miles away).

    A more useful map would highlight the areas where no technology is available to deliver a widely useful service ( 10 Mb would be a sensible threshold).

  5. I find the Ofcom version quite useful as an alternative.
    Go to this Ofcom page: https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/broadband-coverage
    Type in your postcode
    Click ‘Set Postcode’
    Click the ‘View map of available services’
    You can move the map around, and scroll in and out.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      ~800m from cab
      Line length ~ 1.2km

      .. equates to expected VDSL speeds for line length of ~17 down, ~5 up, maybe a fraction more
      .. OFCOM site: 32 down, 7 up
      .. which in turn equates to a line length of ~700m, shorter than even the physical straight-line distance

      TBB website: FTTC enabled (estimated speed: over 40 Mbps)

      .. which is just a touch on the optimistic side, don’t you think 😉

      BT itself reckons on a downstream of 7.5, that’s the “handback threshold” so they’re no more confident than that, but then gives estimates of between 10 and 26 down.

      So take BT’s *very-best* estimate and add 20% to get OFCOM’s data, or, add 50% to get TBB’s “data”.

      All predicated on a perfect all-copper line.

    2. Avatar oleg says:

      Sounds about right from those three, kings of massaging reality!

    3. Avatar h42422 says:

      For some reason Ofcom data seems to be inaccurate, or at least not too useful. For my post code, we have according to ofcom “standard” up to 29mbps while some would get superfast. In fact, 8% of premises have decent FTTC (probably those in “superfast”) and the rest of us have long EO lines, with about 3Mbps speeds.

      There is no way no one gets 29Mbps from “standard” anyway, unless they count in the crappy Relish available in theory to some, offering this kind of speed anytime between 3am and 8am, and 0,5Mbps in evenings when I would like to stream 4K tv shows.

      Ofcom tool seems to be giving far too optimistic picture as well, completely ignoring those who just can’t get the “maximum speeds” but only about 10% of that. Ofcom seems to be happy to flag an area green if some can get decent speeds, even if the vast majority cannot.

      Thinkbroadband maps are superior to any of these as they have plenty of different filters.

      This would not matter otherwise, but politicians and even BT/OR seem to be using Ofcom figures in their propaganda, claiming that they have done their share and everyone should be happy now.

    4. Avatar DTMark says:

      “For my post code, we have according to ofcom “standard” up to 29mbps while some would get superfast.”

      I think that’s a bug. It did something similar before I selected my address – IIRC, I may not.

      The biggest mystery to me is how the LA can pay BT to deploy superfast broadband, BT say they have done so, providing data that shows this (top end of the A-range) so as to get paid, but then tell ISPs that they’re not going to be committed to providing anything like that (handback threshold). Or indeed anything at all.

      Were the national availability reworked on the basis of the handback threshold numbers, I suspect superfast availability would tumble dramatically.

      Surely in state funded areas where superfast is claimed, the ‘handback threshold’ should always be 24Mbps+ and the only reason to have such a thing at all is because of a tiny number of errors in a massive database so BT are exempted from having to spend £200,000 delivering a certain speed to one property which was subject to a genuine mistake.

    5. If DTMark wants tbb to review an area a multitude of options available to contact them and welcome local knowledge.

  6. Avatar Optical says:

    Most surprised, it’s spot on for my area of Bath.

  7. Avatar Doctor Colossus says:

    That’s cute, someone thinks we can get between 10-15 Mbps down here – I would love that! 🙂

  8. Avatar TheFacts says:

    Clearly producing this was an ‘academic exercise’ of no real use!

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      It’s useful to have data from independent sources who have no particular interest in inflating the expected performance.

      Because of this, as per a comment above, if we want a map that shows all the areas where a USO of 10Mbps is not possible, or where “superfast” is not possible, that would have to be based in part on real-world actual performance data for, in particular, wireless and DSL solutions.

      If you use TBB’s or OFCOM’s data, you’ll end up producing theoretical best figures and overstating the availability so any such map would be of limited use.

    2. Avatar oleg says:

      “It’s useful to have data from independent sources who have no particular interest in inflating the expected performance.”

      Agree for me this data is spot on, BTs, TBB and Ofcoms is far from it. I welcome a source which is accurate for my area rather than deluded daydreams.

    3. Avatar TheFacts says:

      The data is from Ofcom. Where is TBB data wrong?

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