Broadband speeds rise but mainly in urban areas

Superfast broadband Image copyright BT
Image caption BT has been criticised for its rural broadband roll-out

The latest report from Ofcom on UK broadband speeds suggests that there is still a wide disparity between urban and rural areas.

The average broadband speed in the UK stands at 28.9Mbps (megabits per second), a 27% increase on the average speed last year, the study indicates.

But it was weighted towards urban areas, where users enjoy services three times faster than in rural areas.

Speeds in the countryside had "not improved" said one expert.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: "Most people's broadband is getting faster, but too many people still can't get a good, reliable service."

Dan Howdle, editor-in-chief of broadband comparison site Cable told the BBC: "Ofcom's report is quick to highlight the increase in UK broadband speeds as an overall average and goes as far as to split things down into urban, semi-urban and rural contexts.

"However, digging into the report it becomes clear that, though never specifically stated, the headline increase is heavily weighted by urban roll-out and uptake.

"In fact, the average speed offered to those living in rural areas, by contrast, has not changed since 2014 and barely since 2013. In other words, for those who live rurally the situation has simply not improved."

The Countryside and Landowners Association's director of policy Christopher Price said that the report shone a light "on the shocking inequality in broadband provision".

"The figures from Ofcom indicate that a massive 75% of fixed broadband connections in rural areas are receiving an average actual speed of less than 10Mbps," he said.

"The government's commitment to a universal service obligation for broadband of 10Mbps by 2020 is a positive step, but these figures show how far we still have to go to reach this crucial milestone."

The report indicated that 42% of homes are now signed up to superfast services.

Users of such services - defined as offering speeds up to 30Mbps or more - get actual average speeds of 56.8Mbps, suggesting that paying more for a faster service is worth it.

The study also looked at average upload speeds - important for people sharing large files or using real-time two-way video communication - and found that they stood at an average of 3.7Mbps, a 0.8Mbps increase compared to 2014.

The data, collected from over 2,000 volunteers using a hardware measurement unit on their broadband router, measured speeds in November 2015.

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