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Top 10 UK Cities with the Biggest Gap in Broadband Speeds (Fastest vs Slowest)

Thursday, Dec 8th, 2022 (12:01 am) - Score 4,096
speed meter broadband download upload uk isp

A new report has used data from 16,500 consumer speed tests to reveal the ten UK cities with the biggest performance gap between those with the fastest broadband ISP speeds and those with the slowest. Glasgow was the “most unequal city“, with its fastest speeds (840.4Mbps) being 866 times quicker than its slowest (0.97Mbps).

The study also examined the shortest distance between a city’s fastest and slowest areas, which saw Brighton come top – “just” 1.2 miles separates the address in the Patcham area, where a top speed of 419.5Mbps was measured (this is said to be the “highest average speed“), with the bottom speed of 4.4Mbps being recorded a short walk away in the Preston Park ward.

The Uswitch.com research is somewhat unusual, and we’re not entirely sure how useful it is or what it’s trying to say, since in any given area there will always be those who choose to remain on older connections, even when faster connections are available to take. Consumer speed testing based studies like this don’t accurately reflect the actual underlying availability of faster networks in each area, which is a key point.

A number of factors can also impact the take-up of faster connections, such as higher prices, fear of switching, as well as a lack of general awareness (i.e. people not knowing that it exists in their area) or interest / desire for the new connectivity (e.g. those with only basic needs may feel less inclined to upgrade).

One other factor to consider, which will become much more relevant in the future as full fibre grows, is that a number of new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) networks (e.g. Openreach) offer a special slow-speed (e.g. 0.5Mbps) tier that is designed to cater for those customers who merely seek a basic landline phone replacement service (VoIP doesn’t need much speed to work). This could add to the problems of assigning context to this sort of data.

Speedtests like this can of course also be influenced by other factors too, such as poor home wiring, the user’s choice of package (e.g. 1Gbps could be available, but people may pick a slower tier to save money), local (home) network congestion, limitations of the tester / testing service itself and slow WiFi performance etc. In addition, it’s unclear whether they filtered mobile connections out.

In short, we’re not sure how useful any of the data below really is, but take these results with a big pinch of salt. But it is reasonable to say that there is a large and growing gap between customers benefiting from ultrafast speeds and those who are getting the bare minimum, although this is nothing new and perhaps shows better in other studies of network availability.

Top 10 Biggest Two-speed UK Cities

Rank
City
Fastest download speed (Mbps)
Slowest download speed (Mbps)
Speed difference multiple
1
Glasgow
840.4
0.97
866
2
Nottingham
799.8
1.16
689
3
Cardiff
643.0
0.99
649
4
Inner London
742.7
1.40
531
5
Newcastle
486.7
1.28
380
6
Derby
441.8
1.21
365
7
Sunderland
591.1
1.62
365
8
Edinburgh
840.6
2.32
362
9
Birmingham
545.2
1.65
330
10
Greater Manchester
640.9
2.07
310

Top 10 UK Cities with the Closest Broadband Divides

Rank
City
Fastest download speed (Mbps)
Slowest download speed (Mbps)
Distance between fastest and slowest areas (miles)
1
Brighton
419.5
4.37
1.2
2=
Liverpool
433.0
4.20
1.5
2=
Portsmouth
247.2
1.96
1.5
4
Inner London
742.7
1.40
1.6
5
Nottingham
799.8
1.16
1.8
6=
Wolverhampton
206.1
4.12
1.9
6=
Exeter
546.4
10.89
1.9
8
Reading
464.0
7.63
2.5
9
Cardiff
643.0
0.99
2.8
10
Swansea
271.9
4.21
3.2
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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
9 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Anthony says:

    I am confused, it says Newcastle fastest download speed; 486.7mb/s.

    Firstly I get faster than that and have done for the last 11 months, I am on 540mb down and up. I also uploaded my speed test results to thinkbroadband. Secondly, CityFibre offer 900mb/s here. Are these pollsters seriously trying to suggest not one single person in all of Newcastle has taken up the 900mb/s speed rate offer anywhere in Newcastle?

    1. Avatar photo Connor says:

      Same on the Wolves front, I’ve just upgraded from a Gigabit Virgin connection to a Gigabit CityFibre connection and yet the max speed in the city is 206?

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      As it’s a speed testing based study, then these will be averaged in some way (i.e. the fastest average), although the press release doesn’t say by what criteria (i.e. top 1%, 10% etc.). Either that or the tester itself is simply not able to return an accurate result for the fastest gigabit lines, which is not an uncommon issue with web-based testing (accuracy tends to plummet on a lot of testers at 1Gbps+).

    3. Avatar photo Les says:

      It said “average speed”

    4. Avatar photo sebbb says:

      remember also that most customers don’t test properly (WiFi, cheap laptops that cannot handle the gig, all kinds of security software that could bottleneck)…

  2. Avatar photo Just a thought says:

    Given that consumers can choose the speed they pay for, maybe a better measure would be percentage of quoted speed achieved. i.e. If I only pay for 15Mbps and get 14.5Mbps 97% that’s a better deal than paying for 500 and getting 468 94%.
    Publish that alongside the maximum product on offer in that area, giving an overall better health of broadband picture.

  3. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

    Since the lower limit for speed is zero and the upper bound is effectively unlimited, the greatest difference will always be found in those areas with the highest maximum speeds.

    A bit like relative income inequality studies – not terribly illuminating.

    Regarding the distance between fastest and slowest areas, were they expecting bandwidth osmosis to play a part?

  4. Avatar photo Packet Switched says:

    Surely a large disparity between fastest and slowest indicates local opportunities for intruding altnets.

    Not surprised at London being included as high disparity. I’m central, under 15 Mb and not much attracted to BTs pricing – Inflation plus – or sub symmetrical upload, let alone having withdrawn any upgrade to ADSL+ without having installed fibre..

  5. Avatar photo Josh says:

    Slightly off topic here, but anyone on 5g noticed the cold weather seems to be affecting the speeds? It’s certainly not brilliant up near Leeds.

Comments are closed

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