Slow download speeds, with sites that take forever to load and endlessly buffering video, are a unique source of frustration.

It’s well known that the UK is calling for improved broadband services, with many countries averaging much higher speeds and better infrastructure. But as the UK as a whole is working to improve our connectivity, some areas are being left behind.

So which areas are still lacking speedy downloads, and which are ahead of the rest?

We’ve looked into the average broadband speed for each area and found the ones failing to meet government-advised minimum standards.

Explore: UK data, London data and USO data

UK broadband index
ranked

Key

  • Rank
  • Local authority
  • County
  • 2018 Average Download Speed (Mbit/s)
  • 2019 Average Download Speed (Mbit/s)
  • Average Download Speed Improvement (Mbit/s)

In the capital, each borough saw an improvement in download speeds compared to last year, with Camden seeing the biggest rise, from 56.7 Mbit/s in 2018 to 77.7 in 2019, an improvement of 21 Mbit/s.

On the other hand, speeds in the City of London were the lowest, and also saw the least improvement, rising by just 7.3 Mbit/s in the last year.

London broadband index
ranked

Key

  • Rank
  • Borough
  • 2018 Average Download Speed (Mbit/s)
  • 2019 Average Download Speed (Mbit/s)
  • Average Download Speed Improvement (Mbit/s)

The Government recently introduced a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for every home and business to have a minimum download speed of 10Mbit/s and 1Mbit/s upload speed.

Minimum Service Obligation

10 Mbit/s

Download speed

&

1 Mbit/s

Upload speed

Unfortunately, it’s the rural communities which are being most left behind. The Orkney Islands in Scotland have the highest proportion of properties which fall below this standard (7.1%), followed by other rural areas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, such as Argyll and Bute, the Shetland Islands and Na h-Eileanan Siar (aka the Outer Hebrides).

UK Areas Falling Below Government Standards
ranked

Key

  • Rank
  • Local authority
  • County
  • Number of Properties Below Government Standard
  • Percentage of Properties Below Government Standard

Methodology

To accurately measure which areas in the UK had the worst standards for broadband speeds, we compared each area’s improvement between 2018 and 2019.

This improvement is measured against the government’s standard of Universal Service Obligation (USO). The USO dictates that premises must have a minimum of 10Mbit/s download speed and 1Mbit/s upload speed. These serve as a good standard for a relatively active household, as this will support most streaming services to a high standard, as well as a few handheld devices. Any slower service will impact most internet user’s experiences.

We compared the number of premises with broadband to the number of premises with the minimum government advisory available, to find out which areas are the worst for unacceptable Broadband standards.

We then took the 2018 and 2019 median and average download speeds (Mbit/s) and compared them year on year to see which cities had the best general speeds.

Notes:

Bournemouth was removed as Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole recently combined and skewed the recorded data.

Sources:

OFCOM Connected Cities Reports 2017, 2018 and 2019

Description of Data Source Headers:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/131038/About-this-data-fixed-local-and-unitary-authority-201809.pdf

2019:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/multi-sector-research/infrastructure-research/connected-nations-2019/data-downloads

2018:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/multi-sector-research/infrastructure-research/connected-nations-2018/data-downloads

Year on Year comparison of places that don’t meet the minimum requirements set under the parameters of the Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO).

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/broadband-universal-service-obligation-consultation-on-design

2017 Connected Cities Description of USO:

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/108511/connected-nations-2017.pdf

“In July, DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) consulted on plans for a universal service obligation (USO) which would provide a decent broadband service with a minimum download speed of at least 10Mbit/s with additional quality parameters of a minimum of 1Mbit/s upload speed, minimum standard of latency and contention and a data cap of at least 100GB per month.”

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