Despite ambitious Government targets for boosting broadband speeds, the UK still suffers pockets of desperately poor performance in the low megabits per second, an analysis by Thinkbroadband.com has revealed.
Over the summer, the slowest average throughput was recorded in the Welsh town of Llandrindod Wells, which saw speeds of 2.4Mbps in a poor performance top ten that underlines the extent to which a householder's location affects the broadband they can access.
Other weak performers included Kirwall & Orkney at 3.8Mbps, Hereford at 3.9Mbps, Inverness at 4.4Mbps, Dumfries and Galloway at 4.7Mbps, Shrewsbury at 4.8Mbps, and Wrexham at 4.9Bmps. Upload speeds were just as poor at around the 0.5Mbps mark or even lower.
By comparison, the best average throughputs were found in Sutton at 19.8Mbps, Cleveland at 18.7Mbps, and Watford at 16.8Mbps. The UK as a whole averaged 15.4Mbps.
This overview hides stark contrasts in performance, with city dwellers (35 percent of the population) being offered an average of 26.4Mbps, compared to 17.9 for semi-urban homes (51 percent of the population) and only 9.9 for rural subscribers (14 percent of the population).
The number of UK households with access to super-fast broadband is now 73 percent, according to figures from regulator OFCOM.
The UK broadband market is dominated by BT (which includes Plusnet) with 6.79 million subscribers by July 2013, up from 6.28 million in March 2012. Sky, too, is on the rise with 4.91 million subscribers, up from 3.86 million in the same period, pushing Virgin Media into third place with 4.47 million subscribers. The losers have been TalkTalk and EE/Orange, both static on 4.07 million and 700,000, respectively.
"It is an extremely busy time for broadband in the UK, with criticism around the delayed rollout of superfast broadband, and the recent Government initiative to provide high speed connections for business in cities," commented Thinkbroadband's co-founder, Sebastien Lahtinen.
"As of August 2013, the BDUK [the Government's Broadband Delivery UK] project to improve speeds outside the current commercial footprint in the UK has passed some 100,000 premises. This much criticised BDUK process which delivered its' first active cabinet in December 2012 is starting to deliver, but it is still early days and there is long way to go until the 4 million target is reached," he said.
That strategy does at least promise improvements. Recent research by the ITU has shown that countries that adopt a policy of intervention to improve broadband speeds reap the benefits in terms of more rapid upgrades.