The UK’s access to super/ultra/mega/hyper fast broadband has been the focus of much attention in recent weeks. DIGIT has covered the topic several times. However, the reality of the UK’s current Internet speeds has been more difficult to uncover.
Ookla, the company behind one of the most popular online speed checkers recently published it’s global speedtest index, giving a breakdown of every country in the world in terms of fixed and mobile broadband speeds. However, the UK was treated as a single country and didn’t provide any insight into how each of the countries within the UK fared.
DIGIT reached out to Ookla and asked nicely. The company very kindly took a closer look. The results are not what we were expecting:
Fixed Broadband Speeds – Scotland Out In Front
Remarkably, Scotland’s fixed broadband speeds are 36.8% faster than the UK average, hitting an mean of 66.77Mbps. England receives just under 50Mbps (49.31Mbps), while Wales just creeps over the Ofcom definition of ‘superfast’ (30Mbps) with a mean of 31.44Mbps. Northern Ireland however falls well below the superfast definition with a poor 26.20Mbps.
Looking at the median (average) speeds reveals much the same:
The median reveals the most commonly occurring speeds. Again Scotland is ahead of the pack by quite a large margin with a median speed of 45.78Mbps. Wales and Northern Ireland again lag behind the UK average with Northern Irish users receiving an average speed of only 17.77Mbps.
Ookla notes that there is some correlation between the percentage of population living in areas classified as ‘rural’. In Northern Ireland 33.2% of the population are classed as living rurally, while in Wales (which the report notes is harder to classify) approximately 32% of the population are in rural locations. In comparison only 18% of the population of Scotland and 17.6% of England’s population are classified as rural.
Mobile Broadband – All Things Being Equal
In terms of average mobile broadband speeds, the four countries of the UK are more equal. Downloads across all four countries are generally good, though England is 2.5% faster than the rest of the UK as a whole. Scotland’s download speeds lag behind, 10.5% slower then the UK average, lagging behind the Northern Ireland (6.9% slower) and Wales (8.7% slower). Ookla points out that this does not mean all users within the nations are getting these speeds and cites Ofcom’s report from June 2017 stating that only 56% of rural mobile users were satisfied with their service, in comparison to 72% of urban users.
As the UK government and Openreach continue to debate how the nations of the UK will improve broadband speeds and how to bring ‘superfast’ broadband to the whole population, the report from Ookla provides stark evidence that not all countries in the UK are equal and more work is required to bring every part of the country up to speed, let alone improve the UK’s global ranking as a digitally capable and future-proofed nation.
You can find the whole report on the speedtest.net website.