Thursday, 24 March 2016 06:36

Rural broadband languishes behind cities

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural broadband languishes behind cities

RURAL broadband is less than one third the speed of connections in towns and cities, says the government's communications watchdog.

Published by Ofcom, UK Home Broadband Performance, compares the performance of popular broadband packages from BT, EE, KC, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.

It shows how different services compare on three key measurements: download speeds, upload speeds and video streaming quality.

The report also includes data showing broadband performance across the UK, including how speeds differ between rural and urban areas.

Ofcom currently states that a connected speed of at least 10Mbit/s is necessary to deliver an acceptable user experience of broadband.

The average broadband download speed in rural areas is 13.7Mbit/s compared to 50.5Mbit/s in towns and cities. The average suburban download speed is 30.7Mbit/s.

But the report says the way Ofcom calculates the urban and rural speeds mean they are not directly comparable to the UK national average download speed of 28.9Mbit/s.

Of the packages compared, Virgin Media's 'up to 200Mbit/s' package achieved the fastest download speeds (averaging 174.0Mbit/s over a 24-hour period).

The average actual UK broadband speed reached 28.9Mbit/s in November 2015 - 6.1Mbit/s (27%) higher than a year previously.

The average actual UK upload speed was 3.7Mbit/s in November 2015, a year on year increase of 0.8Mbit/s (28%).

Superfast products – cable and fibre-to-the-cabinet services with advertised speeds of 30Mbit/s or more – now account for more than two in five broadband connections (42%).

Average speeds for these services increased to 56.8Mbit/s in the year to November 2015.

A number of factors affect the performance of fixed-line broadband, including location, says the report.

In some parts of the UK, people can choose between ADSL, fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and cable broadband services, but in other areas, many homes have limited choice.

"Rural areas are less likely than urban areas to have access to FTTC and cable services," says the report.

The distance of your home from your telephone exchange affects the speed of the ADSL services that are available to you, as does the distance from the street cabinet to your home."

It adds: "For both technologies, broadband speed declines as these distances increase."

This means that the further a premises is from the exchange or street cabinet, the lower the broadband speed – although this is not the case for cable services.

Some online activities need faster connection speeds than others to work well, says the report. Streaming an HD film requires a faster speed than surfing the web or accessing emails.

Similarly, as the number of connected devices – PCs, laptops, tablet computers, games consoles, mobiles – and people per household increases, so will the speed required.



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