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Hull hosts UK’s most sluggish urban broadband speeds

  • UK’s slowest broadband cities are Hull (12.42Mbps), Aberdeen (15.67Mbps) and Milton Keynes (17.10Mbps) while Middlesbrough is fastest (34.46Mbps)[1]

  • Despite ‘superfast’ broadband available to 90% of the UK[2], 20 of the UK’s 42 biggest cities still have average speeds below 24Mbps[1]

  • Three in 10 (30%) broadband users register actual speeds of less than 5Mbps – and just 10% are logging speeds above 50Mbps[3]

  • 22 towns and cities are enjoying superfast average speeds of above 24Mbps[4] – but London and Edinburgh are glaring omissions.

Next year’s City of Culture[5] has come bottom of a league table revealing average broadband speeds in 42 major UK cities and towns, according to price comparison and switching service Uswitch.com.

The data, which shows actual speeds rather than available top speeds – and therefore provides an indication of fibre broadband take up across the UK – reveals that residents in Hull recorded average download speeds of just 12.42Mbps for a six-month period between August 2015 and February 2016[1]. Meanwhile, Aberdeen and Milton Keynes are the UK’s second and third slowest cities for broadband, with speeds of 15.67Mbps and 17.10Mbps respectively[1].

While industry and Government have made ‘superfast’ broadband available to 90% of the country[2], 20 of the towns and cities in the league table have average speeds slower than the 24Mbps superfast threshold[4]. This suggests that barriers to the take up of fibre broadband, including awareness of availability as well as pricing, could be improved in urban areas.

Worryingly, the data also reveals that three in 10 tests (30%) logged actual speeds of less than 5Mbps[3]. Those attempting to spend a night in with a movie might have to resort to traditional TV – as downloading a high definition film at 5Mbps would take two hours[6]. At the other end of the spectrum, just one in ten (10.4%) consumer tests recorded speeds of above 50Mbps[3].

Meanwhile, 22 towns and cities are enjoying superfast average speeds above 24Mbps, with Middlesbrough (34.46Mbps), Belfast (34.34Mbps) and Brighton (33.8Mbps) currently the UK’s fastest cities for surfing the web[1].

Two glaring omissions from the superfast 22 are London and Edinburgh. Both capital cities fall short of expectation with residents recording average speeds of 22.44Mbps and 21.07Mbps[1].

Some residents may find they have a very different broadband experience to friends and family in neighbouring towns and cities. In Huddersfield, for example, broadband users enjoy superfast speeds of 27.71Mbps, yet just 15 miles away Wakefield residents and businesses are recording a sub-superfast 17.49Mbps. And Brighton, known as ‘Little London by the Sea’ and less than an hour away by train, has starkly different speeds to the capital – 33.8Mbps compared to London’s 22.44Mbps[1].

The table below shows 42 UK towns and cities and their average download speeds for the six-month period specified:

RankUK City/TownAverage download speed (Mbps) 9 Aug 2015 to 8 Feb 2016
40Milton Keynes17.10

Source: Uswitch.com

Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, says: “Hull’s broadband infrastructure is unique. It’s the only place in the UK that doesn’t have Openreach lines. Instead, independent telecoms supplier KCOM provides the broadband service[7]. Although KCOM is currently rolling out ultrafast-capable, fibre-to-the-home connections in Hull, actual speed tests taken by broadband users would suggest this hasn’t reached enough homes yet to make an impact on the average.

“But it’s not just Hull in the slow lane. The UK’s cities should be leading the charge when it comes to broadband speeds, yet just 22 cities have broadband users with average speeds of more than 24Mbps. With capital cities like London and Edinburgh not on that list, we should be asking what more can be done to encourage the adoption of superfast broadband now it’s so widely available.

“The Government’s latest rollout figures reveal superfast broadband is now available to over 90%[2] of homes and businesses in the UK and counting, with £1.7 billion pledged to bring that figure to 95% by 2017[4]. But our data suggests take up isn’t high enough – even in our biggest cities. With fibre ever more available, home broadband users need to know it’s there, and it needs to be priced right, too.”

To run a speed test please visit: http://www.uswitch.com/broadband/speedtest/

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with Uswitch.com here.


Lucy Smith

Phone: 020 7148 4663

Email: lucy.smith@uswitch.com

Twitter: @uswitchPR

Notes to editors

Data for six-month period 9 Aug 2015 to 8 Feb 2016 based on 508,637 consumer speed tests carried out via the Uswitch Broadband Speed Test. The city boundaries are based on NOMIS data for the Top 50 largest UK cities. Please note this is based on the city's local authority districts. Only cities with more than 1,000 speed tests for the six-month period were included.  

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