UK's broadband capital revealed

Which British town has most enthusiastically embraced the wonders of high-speed Internet access?

And the most broadband-happy place in the UK is... Swindon.

Healthy coverage and furious competition between BT and cable company ntl:Telewest has led to the Wiltshire town having 51.1 percent household broadband uptake — the highest level in the UK, according to research firm Point Topic.

Other contributing factors include the fact that Swindon is in the South of England (like every other town in the survey's top ten) and has a "high proportion of young families with children".

The other side of the picture is that more than 50 local authorities still have broadband uptake of less than 25 percent. Most are in rural areas outside England, although some urban centres lacking cable coverage (such as Carlisle and Merthyr Tydfil) join the bottom end of the scale.

Deficiencies in rural broadband are the main reason why the communications regulator Ofcom wants to relax restrictions on Wi-Fi power — a strategy it thinks will lead to better hot spot coverage outside urban centres.

Conceding that the figures were "estimates and not actual numbers", Point Topic chief executive Tim Johnson maintained that they were "the most accurate estimates available, especially as the broadband market is becoming more deeply divided and even the biggest suppliers no longer have a complete view of what is going on".

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