The love of broadband speed is an odd one, as if everyone ordered the Virgin Media 100 Mbps service where available or picked a FTTC 80/20 package from BT, Sky, TalkTalk or one of the other 70 or providers who offer it the UK standing in speed test tables would improve dramatically. The changes we made to our web based speed test back in February 2013 have so far let us look at the speeds for various services and show that FTTC products are giving impressive speeds, but by looking at all the speed tests where people shared a post code in April 2013 we can actually get an idea of which areas of the UK are the fastest.

Broadband speeds across the UK

Broadband speeds across the UK

A lot of the time people just publish an average speed and do not dare to show much more information, but the graph above beyond telling us that BR (Bromley) area has am impressive median speed of around 32 Mbps, also reveals that 25% have a download speed below 8.5 Mbps but 25% got a speed test result above 52 Mbps. This is a very wide range of speeds and will reflect the variety of products available across the Bromley area in Greater London, a pattern repeated as you go down the scale.

The bottom end of the scale has Shrewsbury (SY) with a median speed of 4.3 Mbps, but while it is at the bottom of the graph, the area to avoid appears to be the Inverness area (IV) where the median speed is 4.7 Meg, but range bar is very narrow suggesting that super fast services are very thin on the ground in the area.

There are some unusual postcode group results, mainly E (East London) W (West London), LU (Luton), LA (Lancashire) and TF (Telford). Looking back at the raw data, the off the graph value for the mean speed is because of Hyperoptic who are based at a W12 postcode and the result for East London is down to their customers opting for a Gigabit solution. Luton seems to be popular with Virgin Media 100 and 120 Mbps connection users across varying postcodes, and Lancashire sees a high mean because of B4RN with their rural FTTP (full fibre) network that runs at Gigabit speeds. Telford is not an area normally associated with fast broadband, but yet again it is an area with a big Virgin Media community.

To avoid a single user skewing the results we do aggregate the results for a postcode into a single value before doing the analysis for the postcode group, and additionally we are only showing areas where we have results from at least 30 postcodes. Even so the high mean results, show the value in using a median result for this sort of analysis particularly when you have some people with access to connections at 1000 Mbps which is many times faster than the UK wide average.

A further level of analysis allows us look at the results for the 12 UK regions and to those in Scotland and Wales it is probably no surprise to find themselves at the bottom of the table.

UK Region Median Download Speed
London 13.7 Mbps
Northern Ireland 12.9 Mbps
South East England 12.4 Mbps
North East England 11.7 Mbps
East Midlands 10.9 Mbps
Yorkshire and Humber 10.9 Mbps
North West England 9.8 Mbps
West Midlands 9.7 Mbps
South West England 9.3 Mbps
East of England 8.8 Mbps
Scotland 7.1 Mbps
Wales 6.5 Mbps

With the BDUK projects now starting to deliver it will be interesting to see if the speeds improve over time and we will revisit the same analysis periodically to let people see whether the money their county council or administration is spending with BT is actually producing a measurable result beyond ticking some political boxes.

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4 Responses

  1. Somerset on 23 May 2013

    It’s not ‘areas that are fastest’. It’s areas where people have available, and have chosen, faster products.

    • PhilT on 24 May 2013

      and chosen to run the TBB speed test :-)

      • andrew on 24 May 2013

        What should be the minimum number of unique postcodes for an area to be mentioned?

        We have a baseline of 30 unique postcodes to appear on the chart at present.

  2. camieabz on 23 May 2013

    Availability is key. My speeds are 50% faster than the median, and about 75% of the mean, but in my own exchange VM is available to only certain areas of the exchange.

    No surprise that Scotland and Wales are slowest (areas of Northern Ireland are poorly provided for too). The providers only go where the money is, while the politicians only go where the votes are. Either they already have them, or won’t get them, so it’s not politically worthwhile, and not financially worthwhile (in their minds).

    Yet another infrastructure cop-out.

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