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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

  • Glasgow, Bristol, Northampton and London complete the list of the top five post towns with the biggest speed discrepancies

  • Postcode lottery: surprisingly, fastest locations are not necessarily closest to city or town centres. 

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.

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. 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. At this speed it would take 11 excruciating hours to download a BluRay film.

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.

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%.

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%.

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.

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. 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.

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

| |

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.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Katherine Moss

Phone: 020 3021 5893

Email: katherine.moss@uswitch.com

Twitter: @uswitchPR

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’.

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