Average UK broadband speed up but rural divide widens

Biannual report from Ofcom shows superfast connections driving average speed upwards

The latest reports from Ofcom on broadband speeds in the UK give a mixed message: although average speeds continue to rise across the country there is a growing divide between rural and urban areas.

From May 2012 to May 2013 the average speed of fixed-line residential broadband in the UK has risen from 2.7Mbit/s to 5.7Mbit/s, an increase of 64 per cent. Since records of speeds began in November 2008, the average speed had more than quadrupled – an increase of 309 per cent.

This increase is partly due to the rising popularity of superfast connections – those with a download speed of 30Mbit/s. Over the course of the last year the number of superfast connections has doubled to 19 per cent.

Average speeds in urban, suburban and rural areas have all increased with rural speeds improving at the quickest rate. From 2011 to 2013 they jumped from 4.1 to 9.9 Mbit/s – an increase of 141 per cent.

Despite this, the gap in terms of actual speeds between rural and urban areas actually widened: from 9.5 Mbit/s in 2011 to 16.5Mbit/s in May 2013. Ofcom blamed this on poor availability of superfast connections in rural areas, as well as a greater average distance between homes and telephone exchanges.