Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Rural areas see jump in broadband

Slow advice (BBC)
Speeds are broadly on the up, the big jumps are outside London

Despite nationwide rises in broadband speeds, London still has the fastest average connections and Northern Ireland the slowest.

Thinkbroadband.com conducted a survey between June and November of some 188,000 online speed tests across nearly 36,000 postcodes.

Nationwide, the survey found an overall 11% rise to 3.6 Megabits per second.

Rural areas saw the greatest rises - up to 24% in the West Midlands, while London's average rose just 2%.

The survey compared the speed tests conducted by thinkbroadband.com in the period between January and May this year with those taken since June.

While Northern Ireland remained at the bottom of the table, it saw a 19% rise to 2.7 Megabits per second (Mbps).

The most improved region since May was the West Midlands, clocking in at an average of 4Mbps.

For those who think it is better to give than receive, upload speeds have jumped 10% to a national average of 444 kilobits per second.

As the report warns, however, these averages are indicative averages of entire regions, and may not reflect the full range of speeds available from a variety of broadband packages - low uptake of such packages in a given region would artificially reduce its average measured speed.

Map of UK showing pins

Relative speeds

Residents of rural areas are more likely to have a broadband connection than their city-dwelling counterparts, but have always suffered from lower broadband speeds.

That divide has always been an issue of infrastructure; ultimate measured speeds depend strongly on distance from a local exchange. Rural settings mean that users are on average farther away from their exchange.

"These results show that the rural broadband speeds remain significantly below those in cities," says Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of thinkbroadband.com.

"This is likely to be due to both shorter telephone line lengths which help to sustain higher speed services, as well as more competition between wholesale suppliers in metropolitan areas."

Average broadband speeds

Area of UK Download (Kbps)
Greater London 4554
West Midlands 3966
North East 3906
North West 3850
East Midlands 3708
South East 3508
Yorkshire and Humberside 3468
East 3289
Scotland 3229
South West 3192
Wales 2939
Northern Ireland 2696



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