Are you living in a broadband black spot?

Parts of central London, Stroud, Tunbridge Wells and Canterbury were among the more surprising areas suffering from the worst broadband in the country, according to new Which? analysis of customer speed tests.

The consumer champion found that while rural Scotland and Wales still have Britain’s slowest average connection speeds, many local authority areas including in the capital and other urban areas are also enduring sluggish speeds.

The areas with the lowest speeds recorded overall included the Lake District, as well as parts of Scotland and Wales.

The Orkney islands (3Mbps), Allerdale (5.7Mbps), Shetland Islands (6.7Mbps), Argyll and Bute (7Mbps), Moray (7.1Mbps),  Fermanagh and Omagh (7.4Mbps) and Ceredigion (7.5 Mbps) were the worst affected local authority areas. By comparison, mid-table Coventry experienced an average speed more than twice as fast – at 16.3Mbps.

Broadband users in some of these areas might find it hard to carry out online banking or to use streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer due to slow internet.

Tower Hamlets (10.1Mbps), Westminster (10.8Mbps), Stroud (11.4Mbps), Tunbridge Wells (11.4Mbps), North East Derbyshire (11.5Mbps), and Canterbury (11.5Mbps) were also found to be lagging well behind other areas.

At the other end of the scale, Which? found that the fastest local authority area for broadband speeds was commuter borough Broxbourne with an average 32.5Mbps, which is considered superfast by both the Government (over 24Mbps) and Ofcom (over 30Mbps).

To put this into context, this means that downloading a film in Canterbury will take around three times longer than it would in Broxbourne.

Other urban areas benefiting from fast internet include Crawley (32.3Mbps), West Dunbartonshire in Scotland (29.6Mbps), Watford (29.5Mbps), Rushmore (28.9 Mbps), Nottingham (27.6Mbps) and Cambridge (27.3Mbps).

Meanwhile, the fastest broadband in London was found in the borough of Harrow (26Mbps) followed by Barking and Dagenham (25.7Mbps) and Greenwich (23.6Mbps).

The research, using data from Which?’s own broadband speed checker, shows how people face a lottery when it comes to broadband connectivity – a situation that must be addressed if everyone is to enjoy access to a good service.

The UK Government has pledged to ensure a bare minimum connection speed of 10 Megabits per second across the country. There are additional schemes in place in Wales and Scotland.

The consumer champion’s data suggests residents in 15 UK local authority are failing to access these speeds

Previous Which? research has shown that some households with sluggish broadband connections could get faster speeds – and save hundreds of pounds a year – by switching to a better package.

Despite the growing availability of higher speed broadband, many people were still not taking up the fastest service available in their area, according to the regulator, Ofcom.

Only 45 per cent of premises were signed up to superfast broadband despite the service being available to more than double that number, it said.

Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Products and Services, said:

“Having a good broadband connection is a basic requirement for many important everyday tasks, so it is unacceptable that millions of people around the country are still struggling to get what they need.

“The Government and the regulator must now press ahead with plans to provide a bare minimum connection speed of 10 Megabits in every household and make sure that no one is at a disadvantage because of where they live.”


Note to editors:

  • Which? supports Ofcom’s Boost Your Broadband campaign which helps consumers get the best from their broadband and find out if they could get a faster connection without paying more
  • Customers looking for cheaper broadband can compare deals with Which? Switch Broadband, a transparent and impartial way to compare tariffs and find the best broadband supplier
  • Netflix recommends 3Mbps for streaming standard definition quality or 5Mbps for HD
  • Data from Which? Broadband speed checker in the year to September 30th 2018. Based on 277,575  speed tests. Speeds presented are median values. Rural/Urban classification 2011 of Local Authority Districts
  • It’s worth noting that each devolved nation has its own policy and targets, which all feed into the central UK target. For example, Wales aspires to reach nearly “every property” with 30Mbps+ broadband by 2020 and Scotland hopes to reach 100% of homes with superfast broadband (also 30Mbps+) by 2021
  • Multiple factors can have an impact on connection speed. Those who live in areas where fibre-optic cables have been installed to replace copper telephone wires are likely to get faster speeds
  • Distance from the nearest telephone exchange is also a factor – even homes in town centres can be some distance from their local exchange
  • The more people living under the same roof or using the internet at peak times means there will be added strain with activities such as social media, streaming services and or online games all slowing down the average connection
  • Embeddable maps can be found here:
  • Full Map



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