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UK's broadband blackspots named

The price comparison site uSwitch.com has released an analysis of broadband speeds, which found several large towns get slow connections and one in 10 less than 3Mbps
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

One in 10 British neighbourhoods gets broadband speeds below three megabits per second, despite the UK's push for super-fast connections, according to a survey by uSwitch.com.

Hereford Cathedral

The price comparison site uSwitch.com has released an analysis of UK broadband speeds, which found several large towns, including Hereford (pictured) get slow connections.

The survey, based on 1.68 million broadband speed tests conducted by business and residential broadband users, looked at broadband service by postcode. It found that the average UK broadband download speed is 6.7Mbps, and that the deployment of fibre by BT and Virgin is, for many people, "not causing so much a splash as a ripple".

"What's really surprising is the number of cities and towns such as Hereford and Carlisle that are suffering from slow broadband speeds, dispelling the view that it's just rural areas and small towns that have issues with their broadband," uSwitch.com telecoms chief Julia Stent said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the price comparison site, 34 percent of UK postcodes get less than 5Mbps and 23 percent are on connections slower than 4Mbps. One in 10 get speeds below 3Mbps.

The slowest postcode is TN36, Winchelsea in East Sussex. There, the average broadband speed is just 1.1Mbps. When it comes to larger towns and cities, Hereford (HR1) is bottom of the league at 3.2Mbps.

"Too many people do not appear to be enjoying super-fast speeds because faster services are not available in their area yet," Stent said, adding that the government's goal of getting 90 percent of the UK on speeds of 25Mbps or more by 2015 seemed a long way off.

The government has pledged funding of more than £500m to improve fixed-line broadband speeds in England, Scotland and Wales via its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme, though this has had some glitches. In addition to aiming for 25Mbps for the majority of residents, it is aiming to deliver a minimum of 2Mbps to all.

The average broadband speed of 6.7Mbps that uSwitch.com has reported is significantly lower than the 7.6Mbps average that Ofcom revealed in November, although Ofcom's survey measured only residential speeds.

Ofcom's survey was much more comprehensive than uSwitch.com's effort, being based on 572 million performance tests. The uSwitch.com analysis also discounted any postcode where fewer than 100 speed tests were performed.

See next page for a list of the blackspots identified by uSwitch.com.

The following table shows the UK's broadband blackspots for towns and cities with populations above 40,000:

Town/city, postcode(s) Population Average broadband download speed (Mbp/s)
Hereford 55,800 3.196
Kilmarnock, KA1-3 44,734 3.218
Carlisle, CA1-6 71,773 3.240
Dumfries, DG1-2 43,009 3.604
Canterbury, CT1-4 43,432 4.013
Shrewsbury, SY1-3 70,689 4.089
Lancaster, LA1 133,914 5.479
Chester, CH1-4 118,600 6.052

The following table shows the worst broadband blackspots in the UK, by average broadband download speed:

Location, postcode County Average broadband download speed (Mbp/s)
Winchelsea (TN36) East Sussex, England 1.110
Menstrie (FK11) Clackmannanshire, Scotland 1.235
Askam in Furness (LA16) Cumbria, England 1.252
St Bees (CA27) Cumbria, England 1.381
Ripley (GU23) Surrey, England 1.518
Newbiggin-by-the-Sea (NE64) Northumberland, England 1.612
Pembroke (SA71) Pembrokeshire, Wales 1.657
Johnstone (PA6) Renfrewshire, Scotland 1.806
Lampeter (SA48) Ceredigion, Wales 1.806
Watchet (TA23) Somerset, England 1.868
Haverfordwest (SA62) Pembrokeshire, Wales 1.906
Splisby (PE23) Lincolnshire, England 2.037
Richmond (DL11) North Yorkshire, Englandd 2.047
Helmsley (YO62) North Yorkshire, England 2.133
Stanhope (DL13) County Durham, England 2.227

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