back to article Third of Blighty stuck on snail-speed broadband

The UK government will have a tough time fulfilling its superfast broadband promises for the country with a third of British postcodes still stuck at sloth-like speeds. The country's average download speed is 6.742Mbit/s, but a third of houses are below 5Mbit/s, a quarter have less than 4Mbit/s and one in ten are crawling …


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  1. Efros
    Paris Hilton

    El Reg units

    I can see the need for a standardized broadband speed unit. Possibly the ONIP, a direct measure of how long it takes to download the SD version of One Night In Paris.

    Paris, well who else could it have been?

  2. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Re: El Reg units

    There's an HD version?

    Please tell my boss I have to urgently take the afternoon off for 'personal reasons'.

  3. sugerbear

    Slowest place in Britian...

    For bog standard broadband (not Fibre), Hampton Vale in Peterborough rarely gets speeds of more than .5 Mbits. That is across the whole of the new estate, move across the road to Yaxley or Orton (nearer the exchange) and the speeds are back to normal. A very common complaint on the community website forums.

    Quicker everyone gets Fibre to cabinet the better.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Slowest place in Britian...

    Fibre from home/office to cabinet is all well and good, but its copper from cabinet round these parts causing our bottlenecks.

    Headquarters has recently paid for upgrading our office's link to fibre because of the speed complaints.

    Increase in speed? None what so ever. Waisted my breath telling them.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The slowest place is wrong

    I wish I got 1.11Mbit at home... more like 800Kbit/s, when there's no wind.

    Thank god 3G works and long live Three One Plan!

  6. Disintegrationnotallowed

    Re: The slowest place is wrong

    I live out in the country so no 3G, and speeds of 750k, but I knew that when I moved here recently! I have no idea how BT would get me a superfast connection, they had to run 250m of cable to get me the broadband/phone line I have! God only knows where the nearest exchange actually is.

    I assume the government are hoping to make it for 95% of the population or something to meet targets.

  7. Andrew 59

    Re: Re: The slowest place is wrong

    Ingleton in County Durham struggles to get over 200kbps. Usually it's between 110 and 130kbps.

    And they say this is a civilised country :)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I live 5 miles away from Newcastle city centre and barely get 1Mbit. I can download files faster by just cycling to work.

    Good exercise, but It's truly pathetic.

  9. Refugee from Windows


    Surely a USB pen drive on a pigeon's leg would be quicker up there. Didn't they used to fly backwards to avoid getting the smoke in their eyes or something.

    Broon Ale, alas not even brewed in Gateshead, ruddy Tadcaster!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Alternatives

    I have suggested the use of RFC1149 for data transfer from one of our other offices.

  11. Todge

    Re: Re: Re: The slowest place is wrong

    Down near Helston in Cornwall, a flagship 'superfast area'.

    192kbs on a good day.

    Very frustrating

  12. Kevin Saunders

    Perhaps more people would have better broadband if OpenReach rolled out FTTC to areas that need it first, as opposed to those areas that are already served by VM. And a number of new estates are being missed because VM don't serve them either, even though the surrounding area has FTTC rolled out.

  13. annodomini2 Bronze badge

    I agree with the principle, however...

    It's no good for BT's market share figures.

  14. Jonathon Green

    Kevin Saunders: "Perhaps more people would have better broadband if OpenReach rolled out FTTC to areas that need it first, as opposed to those areas that are already served by VM"

    Perhaps more people would have better broadband if VM rolled out anything anywhere that's not already served by them. It's easy enough to criticise BT for their rollout strategy but they seem to be the only people who are putting *anything* in the ground (or up the poles, or whatever..) - VM don't even seem to be "infilling" holes in the areas they do cover, let alone extending their coverage...

  15. Kevin Saunders

    I don't disagree, but VM is a private network (yes, I know they sell access to the mobile networks), whereas OpenReach is reselling network access to fixed line ISPs. Also, VM does not have access to public funds, which OpenReach does (not huge amounts, admittedly) , but there is BDUK money about

  16. Jess--

    it would be nice if BT would finish rolling out 21cn to allow some increase over adslmax

    if they would do that it would give me roughly double my current speed

  17. Z80

    More than 5 years after the ADSL Max upgrade, my exchange was recently upgraded to 21CN. Sync speed has doubled to about 16Mbps.

    According to my ISP's exchange checker this service isn't available yet - I just happened to look on the SamKnows one and saw the activation date there. Take a look there if you haven't already.

  18. Da Weezil

    My exchange was mentioned as 7th slowest on the list on the BBC site... Right now we would settle for the VPs being sorted to resolve jokes like the 101Kbps bt speedtest I recorded last night, I know several exchanges in this county that have hot Vps but BT are not inclined to fix them, and we have no way to raise a complaint except through our ISPs (who can do nothing on a 20cn market one exchange) oh and get OFCOM to "record" a complaint... remind me... what the hell is that regulator for? - apart from presiding over a skewed system where people like me have to pay almost as much for half decent 30 gig peak upto 8 meg ADSL service as we would for 30 gig upto 40 Meg Fibre service.

    You couldn't make this stuff up..

    If it was my ISP that was causing the issues that would be one thing.. but with BT they hide away refusing to talk to the end user and expect us to just keep stumping over the odds for a lousy service. Its time the pricing reflected the lack of investment on 20cn exchanges.

  19. Jon Smit


    Is it time to give this subject a rest? It used to come up about twice a year, now it's twice a month. Everyone knows signal strength reduces the further the receiver is from the transmitter. That was true for the first radio signals and it's exactly the bloody same for broadband.

    If people choose to live out in the sticks, they can expect to have problems, be it with broadband or mobile phones. Fixing the problem takes time and money. Only 10 years ago, most homes were stuck with dialup speeds - even in the cities. In that time we've seen numerous new technologies appear, currently it's this 21Mb BT offering - in another couple of years it'll be something faster. Most of us don't really need a 21Mb connection - those that do should move.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Yawn

    "If people choose to live out in the sticks, they can expect to have problems"

    In this country, I guess. I live 5 miles from a major UK city centre and get 1Mbit on good days. Is that the sticks?

    Friends of mine have a house in the Algarve, near the beach away from civilisation and they get fibre to the home! Things could be a lot better here.

    Also I find it very unfair that I pay the same, both in line rental and broadband service, as people who get the full 24Mbit.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Yawn

    This problem is not limited to people who live 'in the sticks'.

    I live on a newish (a few years old) estate in a large town but can only get ~1.5Mbps on a really good day (usually < 1Mbps).

    The problem (as pointed out in a previous comment) is that BT are rolling out their fastest tech where Virgin have their cable infrastructure to compete with them.

    Any area that cannot get Virgin is unlikely to be able to get BT FTTC products as BT have a captive market.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Yawn

    Apart from the OP being a bit of a townie shitbag (Not everyone can afford to live in a town or afford to move. Or had that fact passed him by?)

    I live in the sticks (I mean really) and get between 7and 8MBits/s.

    So up yours. Move out to Norfolk Jon mMit, you know it makes sense.

  23. Semaj
    Thumb Down

    Re: Re: Yawn

    More than likely you have the same problem I do. New big area - practically a whole new town but rather than building a new exchange they just put in really long lines all the way to the city centre.

  24. Lallabalalla

    I get about the same in London

    N8 to be precise, where it varies between 1 and 3.5 Mbps depending on... well, who knows? That's when it's connected to the ISP (BT) *and* the servers are responding to requests, not sitting there idly chuckling at my hopeless attempts to do something radical like read a webpage.

    We have "fibre to the cabinet" here. This is great if you want to pay a bloody fortune for basic web access. It's not that important to everyone you know. I'd be quite happy with the advertised 5-odd (ie "up to" 8 hahaha) I'm supposed to get but never do, and I have more important things to buy than 21Mbps broadband - like did you know a kid's haircut can cost £16 these days (I *did* say I live in N8 LOL)

    It's one thing to make it available. It's quite another to price it within reach of the majority of people. It's something else again to actually PROVIDE WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE PAYING FOR IN THE FIRST EFFING PLACE </rant>

  25. Jon Smit

    Re: Re: Yawn

    I don't live in a town. I live out in the sticks and I'm not whinging about my connection.

  26. Jon Smit

    Re: Re: Yawn

    "...I find it very unfair that I pay the same..."

    Are you suggesting they should pay more? Do you also believe those who live in the Scottish Highlands should pay more for their post because of where they live ?

  27. AndrueC Silver badge

    Re: Re: Yawn

    >Also I find it very unfair that I pay the same, both in line rental and broadband service, as people who get the full 24Mbit.

    Well it is more difficult to get the service to you. At the end of the day you're paying to have your phone line plugged into a socket at the exchange just like everyone else. The cost to the ISP is the same for all sockets. The only difference in running costs would be that your line probably burns more electricity because it takes more power to 'push' the signal through.

    So basically:We're all paying the same price and it's harder to provide you with a service. It shouldn't be that much of a surprise that you don't get the same quality of service as someone living closer to the exchange.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Re: Re: Yawn

    "probably burns more electricity because it takes more power to 'push' the signal through."

    That's completely wrong on so many levels.

    Also ignores all the upstream bandwidth the ISP saves by only having to supply <1Mbit to me. Less upstream bandwidth = lower costs.

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yawn

    It might do. Longer lines are more likely to need higher power levels I'd have thought. I doubt it makes much difference though which is why I said we all get plugged into the same kind of socket.

    But you're definitely wrong about bandwidth. ISPs don't supply bandwith to you. They supply bandwidth to the exchange. Data from the lines themselves is aggregated within the exchange and an individual line's contribution is irrelevant. Whoever is managing the backhaul, core network and transits just looks at the totals and decides whether they are happy with the contention levels or not.

    An individual can be a problem if they use their line heavily at peak times but a 2Mb/s line used flat out throughout the evening is more of a nuisance than a 24Mb/s line used sporadically. The faster line allows for larger bursts of traffic so unless you're streaming it means you're not using the network as much. Same as with any I/O - shorter larger bursts is more efficient than a continuous low speed dribble.

    But ultimately I imagine there's just nothing in it no matter how you look at it. All DSL lines are plugged into the same kind of socket with the same kind of costs to the ISP. Long lines, short lines it just doesn't make any difference. Your line performs according to the laws of the physics and since almost no xDSL ISP in the UK owns the telephone line there's nowt they can do about it. Even if they could do something - why should they spend more money on a longer line if the user is paying the same as someone on a shorter line?

  31. micheal

    PE32 2**

    between Fakenham and Dereham, no BB at all, only dial up

    and 130K plus line noise

  32. CowardlyAndrew

    And in the blindingly obvious news category this press release wins.

    Obviously a lot of places are going to be below average, and Ofcom has even published data showing similar speed spreads, and BT released data back in 2006 showing similar numbers.

  33. WanderingFool

    Superfast across the UK?

    They can't even get superfast broadband to all of London. Instead we're told

    "At his time, there are no immediate plans to extend the network into new

    areas if this requires main build - as this is very expensive."

    It Greenwich. We're not out in the sticks here. Yet, sadly, no fibre, and speeds trundling along at 4 megs on a good day.

  34. organum

    Re: Superfast across the UK?

    You should be so lucky in Greenwich !

    In North Woolwich next to City Airport we have 1meg download and no prospect of anything faster unless we go with Virgin.

    This is a modern estate of over 700 dwellings.

  35. heyrick Silver badge

    Rural France

    After >4km of twisted pair installed in the 60s, I get 2mbps. I'm not complaining, an equivalent place in the UK would likely never get broadband.

    I grew up with dial-up and BBSs. I don't need instant gratification, I just fire up the download and then do something else while it comes in...

  36. James Hughes 1

    Re: Rural France

    Although iPlayer at 0.5fps is a bit of a struggle to watch.....

  37. Steven Jones

    Re: Rural France

    That's a pretty idiotic comment. The laws of physics are the same in France as they are in the UK, as is the technology. Getting 2Mbps over 4km of copper twisted pair is not exceptional. In fact it's rather poor. I get about 4.5Mbps on a line of similar length back in the UK.

  38. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Re: Rural France

    My old boy's house is ~6km as the crow flies from his (insanely rural) exchange in Suffolk, and gets a good 3.5Mbit, good enough for HD iplayer some of the time, he runs a vodafone suresignal over it as well, as well as Skype and Facetime, no bother.

    His place in the Alps is ~2km up the mountain from the town + exchange, and yet there he only gets 0.5 Mbit, which is just about enough to load the weather forecast - forget skype.

  39. heyrick Silver badge

    @ Steven Jones

    Idiotic comment? I quoted my length and speed, plus I have friends in Wales in a similar sized village (<300) for whom upgrading to ADSL is a maybe-someday. I said nothing about the laws of physics. Maybe your faster speed is helped by newer wiring? The stuff here is *ancient*, and I'm sure you'll understand such things as oxidation, how insulation might degrade in, oh, fifty-odd years, etc etc.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How long?

    Has whichever Government in power been promising improvements in this? Yet nothing is done.

  41. TheOtherHobbes

    Re: How long?

    Not quite nothing.

    Teh Govermint is promising 2MB/s and a chicken in the pot for everyone!

    Most places already get a nominal 2MB/s, even if it's not close to that in practice.

    Target achieved! No more needs to be done - except more PR - and everything is perfectly fine already.

    Obvious, innit.

  42. smudge Silver badge

    One in ten < 3Mbps?

    Suspect it may be more than that. On the edge of St Albans I get about 2.7Mbps, and a BT engineeer told me "that's pretty good for round here". I know it's even slower on another - more recent - estate on the opposite side of town.

    Yes I know I shouldn't generalise from my own experience, but....

  43. Keith Oborn

    Where do they get this data?

    I am sitting on the edge of a village (Bramley), only just over a mile from the edge of Basingstoke. I am 3 miles from both BT and Virgin Media national backbone fibre routes. less than 2 miles from here are the UK headquarters of a number of major telco equipment manufacturers.

    No-one in our area (several thousand households) can get more than 2Mb, and for most (like me) 512k is the limit - and that required considerable attention from helpful local BT guys before it was stable.

    This is due to historical accident, the BT local loops head off to a distant rural exchange. Nothing can be done, the area is "not economic" to upgrade, and doesn't appear on the radar as "remote rural" so won't get any grant assistance.

    Last September I stayed in a remote B+B on the western tip of Skye - 15 miles by single track road from the nearest small town. 8mbit/sec.

    Somehow the powers that be need to be made to understand that there is a "micro-climate" problem, and broad-brush "deprived rural area" approaches are a waste of money.

  44. Morphius

    Max speeds are one thing...

    How about boosting the capacity of the networks too. I live in a rural location and at midday would enjoy 6Mb on an 8Mb line, come home and run the speed test in the evening / night and have been frequently given less than 1Mb.

    Out of interest, how are these figures calculated? Is it purely the best that can be seen with the wind in the right direction and the nearby pub offering free booze and food to tempt everyone away from their connection for an hour or two whilst they are tested?

    I imagine that if you created these figures at 7-8pm across an average of 3 week nights then the UKs average would be an even sadder place!

    (beer, just because I mentioned a pub)

  45. mgq

    Virgin Media - Insulting advertising

    Frankly, it doesn't matter what the advertised speed is, if the ISPs infrastructure isn't up to it. Virgin Media is completely oversubscribed in the area we live in and in the evenings we suffer up to 60% packet loss and speeds as low as 0.15mbps. Virgin Media have basically said they can't be bothered to do anything as essentially not enough people have complained, because they're all apathetic students.

  46. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Re: Virgin Media - Insulting advertising

    Perhaps Virgin's current speed is due to apathetic students in the area. They're not bothered, they'll just leave BitTorrent 24/7.

  47. dotdavid

    Superfast, ultrafast, super-ultrafast, ultra-super-mega-fast...

    Given the presumed ever-increasing speeds of internet-connection technologies, do you think it's wise to use terms like "superfast" and "ultra-fast" to describe your broadband services?

    Or has the Marketing Department taken over completely?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Much ado about nothing?

    33% with less than 5Mbs and 25% with less than 4Mbs and the mean is 6.742Mbs? Even though I didn't pay much attention in my GCE Statistics course 35 years ago, that sounds similar to a Gaussian distribution to me.

    When you think about the population distribution across the UK, we do not live uniformly grey cities, with not a soul living in between. We live in a mixture of cities, large and small towns, large and small villages and isolated communities.

    Judging by the broadband statistics, we can assume that almost as many people live outside large towns and cities as those who live in them. No surprise there then.

    Whoever wrote the report either has a lot of time on their hands or is tying to justify their existence. We all know the only way to increase the mean and tighten the variance of the distribution is to spend a lot of money upgrading infrastructure or to move all those living in the sticks into the towns.

  49. StrictlySocial

    OK, how about East Finchley (not on BT 'not quite so infinity' and no VM) getting 3.5. That is 3.5MB in London!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "That is 3.5MB in London"

    Why should London be special ?


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