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British broadband speeds are now among the slowest in Europe having dropped to a lowly 47th in the world.
This alarming news is revealed in new research conducted by Cable.co.uk, which indicates that the UK has fallen 13 places in an annual league table of global broadband speeds. Britain’s average broadband speed is 37.82 Mbits/sec.
This means Britain is now 22nd out of 29 states in Western Europe. Eight of the top ten fastest countries in the world for broadband are located in Europe. The principality of Liechtenstein offers the fastest at an average speed of 229.98 Mbits/sec. with Jersey, Andorra, and Gibraltar ranked 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
Clearly, for these smaller territories introduction of fibre optics has been much easier to achieve, whereas, for many years, the UK infrastructure has tended to focus on enhancing the existing copper telephone infrastructure with fibre.
Only Virgin Media’s network can offer speeds of up to 516Mbits/sec to around 60 per cent of the UK population.
In May, Ofcom released a report which found that the average broadband speed in the UK had risen by around 16 per cent in the past two years, making the average home speed 64 Mbits/sec, up from the 54.2 Mbits/sec. But the findings by Cable.co.uk, using data from M-Labs – which scrutinised 557 million speed tests worldwide – showed the UK to be in a much slower lane than Ofcom’s earlier assessment.
Dan Howdle, a consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said that, although average global broadband speeds are on the increase, the faster countries are the ones lifting the average, pulling away at speed and leaving the slowest to stagnate. In 2019 Cable.co.uk found the slowest five countries to be 125 times slower than the five fastest. And this year they are 276 times slower.
With the average broadband speed in the UK less than half that of the Western European average, it takes 18 minutes to download a 5Gbits/sec. movie whereas, in Spain, it takes just 12 minutes. In Sweden only eight and Switzerland just six minutes.
There are some steps being taken to address the British broadband averages. The UK government has announced it will pass legislation to ensure new homes are built with gigabit-speed broadband. And Openreach recently announced it was extending fibre to the premises to many more rural locations which would offer up to 1Gbits/sec connectivity.
Gary Jowett, from Computer & Network Consultants (CNC) in Brighton, said: “Clearly full fibre is an ideal solution for any company seeking to expand and excel over competitors because online sales and servicing are becoming increasingly important – especially since the pandemic restricted many face-to-face transactions. But by discussing all the options with an independent IT consultant, you can enhance connectivity using a range of different technologies, including 5G, even if your locality is unlikely to be connected to full-fibre in the near future.”