UK connectivity speeds ‘still lagging’, survey finds

Connectivity
The UK continues to lag behind many of its EU neighbours when it comes to broadband download speeds, with a lack of urgency in fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) investment being one of the main reasons for this.

That’s the finding of a new study by Cable.co.uk and M-Lab, which revealed the UK currently ranks 34th out of 207 countries and territories around the world for broadband performance. This means its position has barely changed from last year – when it ranked 35th – despite average speeds increasing by 20.48 per cent over the last 12 months.

According to the survey, the UK recorded an average download speed of 22.37Mbps for the year to May 2019, placing it behind two-thirds of other EU countries. By comparison, other major European economies including Germany (24.64Mbps), France (25.62Mbps) and Spain (36.06Mbps) all outpaced the UK.

Commenting on the figures, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said there is a clear correlation in the results between countries that have made FTTP technology a priority and those that have enjoyed significant speed increases.

For example, he noted Ireland invested heavily in FTTP, and it has seen its average speeds rise far faster than the average this year, lifting it a “highly respectable” seven spots up the table.

The UK, by contrast, remains in the “experimental stage” of FTTP provision, which has resulted in it only gaining one spot and remaining behind countries such as Madagascar.

Mr Howdle said: “The UK has few excuses here. There is nothing especially challenging about UK geography when compared to that of our EU counterparts. The UK is simply arriving later to FTTP than many of those doing better in the global league.”

He added that if the UK wants to remain a competitive digital economy as Brexit looms, it must therefore accelerate its rollout of full fibre broadband.

A focus on fibre has helped other countries climb to the top of the table. For example, Cable.co.uk noted that in Sweden, a decision to focus investments on full fibre means around 60 per cent of Swedish homes and businesses now have access to speeds of up to 1Gbps.

This helped it rise to fourth in the table, just behind Jersey, which is the first jurisdiction in the world to make FTTP available to every broadband user. 

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