Speed tests reveal the worst areas of the UK for broadband connections

How good is YOUR internet? Map reveals how broadband speeds around the UK vary massively and speed tests reveal some people are living in connection black spots

  • Broadband speeds vary around the UK from less than 6mbps to more than 32 
  • As a rule, rural areas have worse broadband speeds than built-up areas 
  • This is not always true as the slowest included some cities and parts of London  
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Broadband speeds in some busy cities and towns are little better than some of the most remote parts of Britain, it was revealed today.

It is well understood that using broadband in rural areas from the Highlands of Scotland to the valleys of Wales and much of the south west of England is a real chore.

However speed tests by consumer group Which? suggest it can be almost as difficult to surf the web, check emails, stream films and music in parts of London, Tunbridge Wells and Canterbury.

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Broadband speeds in some busy cities and towns are little better than some of the most remote parts of Britain, it was revealed today

The Government has a target for all homes and businesses in the UK to have a minimum broadband connection speed of 10 Megabits per second (Mbps).

However, research found there are some 15 local authority areas which fail to meet even this very modest level of service.

Surprisingly, this includes the City, the nation’s financial hub, while Westminster, which is home to Parliament and the MPs responsible to ensuring Britain is at the cutting edge of broadband technology, is little better.

This may be because the broadband networks are so crowded that they simply cannot cope with the huge amount of traffic sent across the cables.

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The findings of the research will be particularly galling against a background of repeated, inflation-busting, increases in broadband charges from the major players – BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk.

At the same time, Britain’s broadband speeds are generally much slower than many, apparently poorer, countries because most of the traffic is carried over the ageing copper wire telephone system.

This means that the further people are away from the telephone exchange the slower the service.


North-east Derbyshire, new Forest and Canterbury are named as some of the top ten worse urban areas for broadband. Other surprising inclusions include central London locations such as the City, Westminster and Tower Hamlets (pictured)


Much of the UK’s rural areas have a worse connection than that of urban areas. Mid Suffolk, Hertfordshire and the Shetland Islands rank in the top 10 for worst connections. The Orkney islands and Allerdale are considered to be the worst in the British Isles 

The very slowest broadband speeds were recorded in the Orkney islands at 3Mbps, Allerdale in the Lake District at 5.7Mbps, the Shetland Islands at 6.7Mbps, Argyll and Bute at 7Mbps, Moray at 7.1Mbps and Ceredigion in Wales at 7.5 Mbps.

Which? said: ‘Broadband users in some of these areas might find it hard to carry out online banking or to use streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer due to slow internet.’

Areas that fall below the Government speed target of 10Mbps include the City of London at 9.9Mbps, which puts it in the same slowcoach category as many parts of Devon and behind parts of rural Carmarthenshire and Aberdeenshire.


Downloading a film in Canterbury will take around three times longer than it would in Broxbourne.  The Government has a target for all homes and businesses in the UK to have a minimum broadband connection speed of 10 Megabits per second (Mbps)


Wales and Northern Island had a relatively poor connection in these five areas. The median score was 16mbps for the UK as a whole 

Westminster and Tower Hamlets in the capital score little better with speed readings of just 10.1Mbps, which is about the same as those achieved in cottages in the Malvern Hills.

Other highly populated areas which suffer buffering and bugs when using broadband include Stroud with a speed of 11.4Mbps, Tunbridge Wells at 11.4Mbps, North East Derbyshire at 11.5Mbps, and the cathedral city of Canterbury, which is home to two universities, at 11.5Mbps.

The research, which uses data from Which?’s own broadband speed checker, shows how people face a lottery when it comes to broadband connectivity.


Broadband speeds vary around the UK from less than 6mbps to more than 32mbps and as a rule, rural areas have worse broadband speeds than built-up areas. This is not always true as the slowest included some cities and parts of London

Researchers found that the fastest local authority area was the London commuter borough of Broxbourne with an average speed of 32.5Mbps, which puts it in the superfast category.

To put this into context, this means that downloading a film in Canterbury will take around three times longer than it would in Broxbourne.

Other urban areas benefiting from fast internet include Crawley at 32.3Mbps, West Dunbartonshire in Scotland at 29.6Mbps, Watford at 29.5Mbps), Rushmore at 28.9 Mbps, Nottingham at 27.6Mbps and Cambridge with 27.3Mbps.

The fastest broadband in London was found in the borough of Harrow at 26Mbps, followed by Barking and Dagenham at 25.7Mbps and Greenwich with 23.6Mbps.

Alex Neill, of Which?, said: ‘Having a good broadband connection is a basic requirement for many important everyday tasks, so it is unacceptable that millions of people around the country are still struggling to get what they need.

‘The Government and the regulator must now press ahead with plans to provide a bare minimum connection speed of 10 Megabits in every household and make sure that no one is at a disadvantage because of where they live.

WHAT IS 5G? 

The evolution of the G system started in 1980 with the invention of the mobile phone which allowed for analogue data to be transmitted via phone calls.   

Digital came into play in 1991 with 2G and SMS and MMS capabilities were launched. 

Since then, the capabilities and carrying capacity for the mobile network has increased massively. 

More data can be transferred from one point to another via the mobile network quicker than ever.

5G is expected to be launched in 2020 and will be up to 1,000 times faster than the currently used 4G. 

Whilst the jump from 3G to 4G was most beneficial for mobile browsing and working, the step to 5G will be so fast they become almost real-time. 

That means mobile operations will be just as fast as office-based internet connections.

Potential uses for 5g include: 

  • Simultaneous translation of several languages in a party conference call 
  • Self-driving cars can stream movies, music and navigation information from the cloud
  • A full length 8GB film can be downloaded in six seconds. 

5G is expected to be so quick and efficient it is possible it could start the end of wired connections.  

By the end of 2020, industry estimates claim 50 billion devices will be connected to 5G.


The evolution of from 1G to 5G. The predicted speed of 5G is more than 1Gbps – 1,000 times greater than the existing speed of 4G and could be implemented in laptops of the future 

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