Glacial broadband speeds continue to be huge issue for thousands of Brits – especially with many of us now working from home. Once a nice luxury, a speedy home internet connection has now become vital as we spend the day on Zoom calls, uploading documents to collaborate on, and replying to endless emails from the home office. Studying remotely is also tough with a sluggish connection.
Streaming services and smart home gadgets only add to the strain and most homes now need faster internet to keep things connected. Sadly, it seems that Brits are not getting the speeds they need or deserve.
The latest tests have revealed just how far behind Britain is when compared to other parts of the world. According to the latest report from cable.co.uk, the UK is now 47th when it comes to downloads with an average speed of 37.82Mbps. At that rate, it should take roughly 15 minutes to download a feature-length movie in High Definition (HD).
The UK manages to trump 174 other countries globally, but falls way behind 46 other nations in the speed league, including 21 in Western Europe. This puts the UK among the slowest in Europe when it comes to average broadband speed. To make matters worse, Britain has lost ground since the last measurements were taken back in 2019.
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The 2020 test confirms that the UK has now fallen behind Jersey (218Mbps), Gibraltar (183Mbps), Iceland (116Mbps), Switzerland (110Mbps), Norway (67Mbps), France (51Mbps) and Estonia (70Mbps). The Government has pledged to bring full-fibre broadband – with speeds comparable to these European nations – to more households soon, but these speedy new connections aren’t expected to be plugged in until the mid 2020s.
If you want the very best speeds right now, moving to Liechtenstein could be the answer as this country is ranked top for downloads with an average speed of 229Mbps. At that rate, it takes just 2 minutes 30 seconds to download an HD blockbuster – six times quicker than in the UK.
Commenting on the UK specifically, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said: “While around 60% of the UK has access to the Virgin Media network and can get speeds of up to 516Mbps, and there is limited availability of smaller networks such as Hyperoptic offering gigabit speeds, the Openreach network remains the anchor that keeps average speeds in the UK comparatively low.
“Entry-level fibre packages and ‘fast’ fibre packages on Openreach have been set at around 30-35Mbps and 60-70Mbps respectively for more than five years now with no significant changes beyond how those speeds are advertised. As shown by the domination of smaller countries and regions at the top of the table – Liechtenstein, Jersey, Andorra, Gibraltar – it is obviously far easier to upgrade a country or territory to full fibre the smaller it happens to be.
“However, the UK still finds itself a long way behind many nations of equal or greater size. Ultimately, the UK, specifically Openreach, is comparatively late in its rollout of pure fibre networks, which is causing the UK to stagnate, while other nations gain ground.”
In response to the findings, Catherine Colloms, MD for Corporate Affairs at Openreach said: “It’s well-known that over the last decade, the UK prioritised delivering decent broadband to the vast majority of people over getting ultrafast full fibre technology to a smaller minority in towns and cities. Today though, we’re investing £12bn in the next big build and taking ultrafast, ultra-reliable full fibre broadband to 20m premises by the mid-to-late 2020s – and it’s the largest investment of its kind in the country.
“When looking at data like this, it’s important to understand the difference between current speeds – which this survey focuses on – and available speeds, which it ignores. Experts at Thinkbroadband have calculated that if everyone bought the fastest product available to them, the UK’s national average broadband speed would be a whopping 385Mbps. That said, we’d always recommend considering a range of measures like pricing and quality of service – and not just speeds – when comparing the UK to other countries.”