Press release:

Great broadband speeds divide revealed: massive discrepancies between areas just a few miles apart

  • In the Birmingham area there is a staggering 89% difference in average download speeds between the slowest and fastest postcode districts[1]
  • Glasgow, Bristol, Northampton and London complete the list of the top five post towns with the biggest speed discrepancies[1]
  • Postcode lottery: surprisingly, fastest locations are not necessarily closest to city or town centres[1]. 

New research from independent price comparison and switching service, uSwitch.com, reveals massive speed discrepancies between locations that are, in many cases, just a few miles apart, and in close proximity to major UK cities. In the worst case there is a difference of up to 89% between the fastest and slowest speeds[1].

The consumer speed test data, which was collected across the 30 biggest UK post towns, showed that the Birmingham area has the biggest discrepancy between slowest and fastest broadband speeds[1]. In postcode district B42, which covers the areas of Perry Barr, Great Barr and Hamstead, broadband download speeds over the past six months have averaged an impressive 20.9Mbps but, just a mile and a half away in B35 (Castle Vale), average speeds are a massive 89% slower, at just 2.2Mbps[1]. At this speed it would take 11 excruciating hours to download a BluRay film[2].

It’s a similar story in the Glasgow, Bristol and Northampton areas, where fastest and slowest speeds differ massively. The lucky folk of postcode district G22, covering Milton and Possilpark in Glasgow, get average broadband speeds of 20.5Mbps – a staggering 85% faster than speeds of 2.98Mbps in G34, just six miles away, covering Easterhouse, Provanhall and Rogerfield[1].

Bristolians in BS40 – which covers Chew Valley, Chew Magna, Chew Stoke and Wrington – are far more worse off than those three miles away in BS14 – covering Hengrove, Stockwood, Whitchurch and Withywood – where speeds plummet by 81% from a super-fast 21.44Mbps to a super-sluggish 4.06Mbps. And in Northampton, residents of Kingsthorpe (NN2) get all the luck with speeds of 17.78Mbps, compared to just 3.93Mbps in NN7, around eight miles away, which includes Alderton and Blisworth. That’s a substantial drop of 78%[1].

Even Londoners have to mind the gap. Average speeds in the capital’s slowest postcode district EC2Y, which covers Barbican, are as little as 5.3Mbps. By contrast, those in SE7, Charlton in Greenwich, enjoy the fastest online surfing, with speeds of 22.46Mbps – a difference of 76%[1].

Contrary to expectation, the most central postcode districts are not usually the fastest for broadband speeds, with the exception of the Reading area – where RG1 is the fastest postcode district with speeds of 22.87Mbps – as well as the post towns of Coventry, Portsmouth and Dudley[1].

Despite some UK residents being stuck in the slow lane, super-fast broadband is available in many of the areas included in the research. However, although 65% of UK households can now benefit from the service, many don’t know it is available in their area[3]. Even those who are aware are simply not making the leap to fibre, with the biggest concern being the additional financial strain it could put on household budgets[4].

The following table shows the fastest and slowest postcode districts in 30 of the biggest UK post towns[1]:

 

Post Town

Fastest postcode district and its average broadband speed (Mbps)

 

Slowest postcode district and its average broadband speed (Mbps)

Difference between fastest & slowest speeds

1

Birmingham

20.9

B42

2.2

B35

89%

2

Glasgow

20.5

G22

2.98

G34

85%

3

Bristol

21.44

BS14

4.06

BS40

81%

4

Northampton

17.78

NN2

3.93

NN7

78%

5

London

22.46

SE7

5.3

EC2Y

76%

6

Stoke-on-Trent

18.86

ST2

4.64

ST11

75%

7

Wolverhampton

18.98

WV3

5.04

WV5

73%

8

Leicester

21.98

LE6

6.15

LE8

72%

9

Liverpool

26.45

L38

7.75

L1

71%

10

Leeds

23.38

LS4

6.92

LS10

70%

11

Newcastle

18.87

NE7

5.91

NE17

69%

12

Plymouth

16.83

PL6

5.70

PL8

66%

13

Hull

16.02

HU4

5.45

HU6

66%

14

Manchester

24.49

M44

9.17

M4

63%

15

Reading

22.87

RG1

8.58

RG8

62%

16

Belfast

19.96

BT4

7.63

BT29

62%

17

Preston

16.01

PR2

6.23

PR3

61%

18

Sheffield

17.60

S12

7.53

S26

57%

19

Nottingham

20.35

NG7

9.56

NG1

53%

20

Edinburgh

22.43

EH13

11.09

EH5

51%

21

Aberdeen

11.88

AB25

5.95

AB15

50%

22

Milton Keynes

16.39

MK8

9.22

MK17

44%

23

Southampton

18.81

SO19

10.68

SO17

43%

24

Cardiff

15.85

CF5

9.22

CF15

42%

25

Derby

22.962

DE74

13.533

DE73

41%

26

Bradford

16.01

BD10

10.29

BD15

36%

27

Coventry

16.031

CV1

10.62

CV4

34%

28

Dudley

16.867

DY1

11.416

DY3

32%

29

Luton

19.579

LU4

16.026

LU1

18%

30

Portsmouth

19.668

PO1

17.045

PO3

13%

Marie-Louise Abretti, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Despite the Government’s intense focus on super-fast speeds, this data reveals massive inconsistencies, with speeds fluctuating dramatically between areas located just a few miles apart. Although a recent Ofcom report revealed that the UK’s average broadband speed has increased by a third in the last year, our data suggests that this isn’t the whole picture. 

“If you suffer from sluggish broadband, it could be because of the device you’re using to get online with or your router. You could also try boosting your speed by plugging in instead of surfing wirelessly. Even where your router is located can make a difference – try to keep it off the floor and away from TV monitors, stereo speakers and halogen lights.

“If you’re still stuck suffering from slow or inconsistent speeds, check to see what service you could be getting with another provider. Signing up to a fibre service is a sure fire way of speeding up your broadband – and almost two thirds of the country now has this option. However, many consumers either don’t know about it or are put off by the price. It may cost you more, but could be worth it, especially as several providers have great introductory offers at the moment.”

— ends —

Notes to editors

More than 900,000 speed tests were conducted through the uSwitch.com website between December 1st 2012 and February 28th 2013. Only the UK’s 30 most densely populated post towns were included in the study. Each IP address could only register one test. Average broadband download speeds are in Mbps. Data collected includes speeds from both ADSL and fibre optic connections. Tests were conducted on www.uswitch.com/broadband/speedtest

  1. uSwitch took speed test data from the 30 biggest UK post towns then isolated the average speeds of the fastest and slowest postcode districts within each of those post towns. The results are in the table above, along with the percentage differences between the fastest and slowest speeds.
  2. http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/guides/broadband_download_times/
  3. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/other/telecoms-research/broadband-speeds/infrastructure-report-2012/
  4. From research carried out online by uSwitch.com between 4th and 17th January 2013 among 2,100 respondents. Of those who can get superfast broadband at home but don’t have it, when asked “For what reasons’s do you not have it?” 47.8% said ‘It’s too expensive’.

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

Customers can sign up to an account that automatically monitors the energy market and notifies them when they can move to a cheaper tariff, while broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and identify the best deal for their postcode.

The multi award-winning 'Switching Made Simple' app allows customers to compare energy, broadband, credit card, mobile and SIM-only deals – and uSwitch also has a UK contact centre manned by energy and broadband experts. Customers can post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH to receive a free call back and be guided through the comparison process, or they can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details.

uSwitch is owned by ZPG, which operates some of the UK’s most trusted digital brands that help empower smarter property and household decisions including Zoopla, Money, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes. uSwitch is the proud sponsor of Britain’s Got Talent 2018.

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