Constituency data on broadband speeds, superfast broadband coverage, availability of full fibre services, and lines that can't get decent broadband.Jump to full report >>
Ofcom releases annual data on broadband connectivity and speeds for fixed lines at postcode level as part of its Connected Nations report. We have analysed this data to produce estimates of connectivity in the UK's constituencies and wards.
You can download a data file at the bottom of this page featuring full data for each constituency and ward in the UK. For more information on the UK Government's proposed Universal Service Obligation, see our briefing paper.
According to our analysis of Ofcom's data, the average download speed for fixed broadband lines in the UK was 44.6 Mbps in May 2017 - up from 37.8 Mbps in 2016. However, there is a wide range of speeds being received across the country. For those with superfast lines (over 30 Mbps), the average download speed is 77.3 Mbps. But for those without superfast lines, the average is 11.8 Mbps - 74% lower than the overall average. Meanwhile 2.3% of lines are receiving speeds under 2 Mbps, 24% of lines are receiving speeds under 10 Mbps, and 49% are receieving superfast speeds (over 30 Mbps).
Speeds also vary in different parts of the UK. The table below shows the ten constituencies with the highest speeds. Note that York has the highest take-up of 'ultrafast' lines (those capable of delivering speeds over 300 Mbps) in the UK, which helps to explain why its two constituencies rank highest here. The lowest average speeds are found in Ross, Skye & Lochaber (19.1 Mbps), Orkney & Shetland (19.3 Mbps), Arfon (20 Mbps), and the Cities of London and Westminster (20 Mbps).
The average download speed being received in a constituency depends on a number of different factors. Higher superfast availability can lead to higher average speeds. However, speeds are also dependent on take-up of superfast services - some consumers choose not to subscribe to superfast packages, which may result in lower averages in some areas. 49% of lines are receiving superfast speeds, compared with availability of 91%.
Differences in average speeds don't just depend on superfast availability and takeup. For example, Ilford South and Sleaford constituencies have approximately the same percentage of lines receiving superfast speeds - but the average download speed in Ilford South is 53 Mbps, 36% higher than the 39 Mbps average in Sleaford. Other factors, such as the distance between the premises and the cabinet, can have an effect.
Around 3% of premises can't receive 'decent' download speeds - defined by Ofcom as 10 Mbps. The inability to receive 10 Mbps is an eligibility criterion for the planned Universal Service Obligation.
In the majority of constituencies, less than 2% of lines are unable to receive 10 Mbps. However, there are parts of the UK where the figure is much higher. The table below shows our estimate of the ten constituencies with the highest proportion of lines unable to receive decent download speeds.
The example map below shows an example of how, even in areas with generally good connectivity, there are still some postcodes where all lines are unable to receive 10 Mbps.
Ofcom defines 'superfast' speeds as over 30 Mbps, in contrast to the UK Government's definition of 24 Mbps. On Ofcom's definition, around 91.4% of premises in the UK had a line capable of delivering superfast download speeds in May 2017. This is up from 88.0% in 2016.
In 255 of 650 UK constituencies, superfast availability is above 95% of premises. 57 constituencies have availability below 80%. The table below shows the ten constituencies with the lowest estimated availability in 2017.
Around 2% of premises can recieve fibre direct to the property. Also known as "full fibre", this technology can deliver ultrafast speeds in excess of 300 Mbps. 35 of 650 constituencies have full fibre availability over 10%, with the highest being 64% in Hull West & Hessle. Two-thirds of constituencies have less than 1% availability of full-fibre services.
As one would expect, urban areas have better connectivity on average than rural areas. The table below shows our analysis of Ofcom's data at LSOA level in England and Wales. Urban areas have superfast availability of 95%, compared with 66% for rural villages. Average download speeds in villages & hamlets are only just over half those in urban areas.
The urban/rural pattern is not quite so simple as it may seem above. City centres, especially in large cities, often have poorer connectivity than surrounding suburban areas. The example map below shows Manchester. Orange areas in the city centre are receiving slower average speeds, and purple areas in the suburbs are receiving higher average speeds.
Manchester is not unusual in this regard - the same effect can also be seen in London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds and Glasgow, among other places.
This map shows which parts of the UK can't receive superfast broadband. A PDF version is available to download below.
Ofcom notes that its superfast availability estimates are lower than those reported by some other sources (such as thinkbroadband). Ofcom says its estimates are "based on analysis of speeds available to every residential and small business property in the UK", while other sources are based on analysis of consumer tests from a smaller number of lines (Connected Nations p12). So the sources are not directly comparable with one another.
This means that comparing Ofcom's figures with more recent data from other sources may exaggerate the extent of any improvements since May 2017, when Ofcom's data was gathered.
Note that some sources use the lower 24 Mbps measure of superfast broadband, rather than the 30 Mbps used by Ofcom, which can lead to apparent differences in local areas.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-8200
Author: Carl Baker