Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The spread of broadband speeds across the UK in Q3 2017

As every month passes faster broadband services varying from VDSL2 to full fibre are being rolled out across the UK and while no one minds if companies are spending their own money and no one is buying the faster services with the gap funded roll-outs and various voucher schemes that are using public money keeping an eye on the speeds across the UK is an important one. The Q3 analysis of speed tests for local authorities was published just after the end of Q3 on our statistics site but at that level a lot of the detail is lost and therefore we are publishing a summary for the average speeds per postcode area in Q3 2017.

(Blue area signifies no data)

The map showing the average mean download speeds is a nice see of green and perhaps the scale should be adjusted, as otherwise people viewing the map will get the idea that all is well, but if one looks at the same dataset but plotted using the median download speed you can see a distinct difference and areas like Central London don't look as good. So is the mean map wrong? No, its just that those who have the option and are actually buying the fastest services available to them are skewing the mean.

The link between availability and average speeds is explored after we look at the fastest and slowest 30 postcode areas and with the upload speeds included the asymmetry of consumer broadband services is clearly illustrated.

Fastest 30 and slowest 30 postcode areas across the UK in Q3 2017 based on speed test results

(sorted by descending median download speed)

Postcode AreaDownload SpeedUpload Speed
 MedianMeanMedianMean
KT1451.8 Mbps55.6 Mbps5.7 Mbps6 Mbps
BT1046.3 Mbps55.6 Mbps6 Mbps7.2 Mbps
DN4143.3 Mbps39.6 Mbps6.9 Mbps9.5 Mbps
DE140.6 Mbps45.7 Mbps4.1 Mbps7 Mbps
DN3440 Mbps55 Mbps5.8 Mbps6.8 Mbps
CA2338.5 Mbps34.6 Mbps8.6 Mbps7.7 Mbps
DN137.7 Mbps50.3 Mbps3.8 Mbps5.5 Mbps
ML437.1 Mbps45.7 Mbps6 Mbps8.1 Mbps
LS437 Mbps35.5 Mbps3 Mbps3.9 Mbps
CB536.9 Mbps46.5 Mbps4.1 Mbps5.5 Mbps
BN4136.7 Mbps37.9 Mbps4.9 Mbps6.9 Mbps
TS2336.3 Mbps42 Mbps5.1 Mbps5.3 Mbps
TF336.3 Mbps43.2 Mbps5.2 Mbps8.3 Mbps
NE735.7 Mbps43.2 Mbps5.5 Mbps6.6 Mbps
IG435.5 Mbps43 Mbps5.4 Mbps6.4 Mbps
TF535.3 Mbps42.3 Mbps5.7 Mbps6 Mbps
RM235.1 Mbps42.4 Mbps5.7 Mbps13.2 Mbps
RG535.1 Mbps53.3 Mbps5.7 Mbps6.5 Mbps
SM534.9 Mbps41.5 Mbps4.7 Mbps5.4 Mbps
B1634.8 Mbps39.5 Mbps5.3 Mbps8.1 Mbps
CM1834.7 Mbps45.3 Mbps5.1 Mbps7.2 Mbps
TS1634.6 Mbps48.4 Mbps4.7 Mbps5.8 Mbps
TW1434.4 Mbps35 Mbps5 Mbps5.3 Mbps
BN4234.3 Mbps43.2 Mbps5.7 Mbps6.8 Mbps
RM534.3 Mbps38.3 Mbps5.3 Mbps6.4 Mbps
LE1134.2 Mbps41.3 Mbps4.9 Mbps5.7 Mbps
WD534.2 Mbps47.8 Mbps5.3 Mbps5.6 Mbps
PL334.2 Mbps40.2 Mbps4.6 Mbps5.7 Mbps
SA234 Mbps44.6 Mbps5.1 Mbps5.6 Mbps
L1033.9 Mbps45 Mbps5.8 Mbps6.5 Mbps
Skipping over 3,400 other areas to now showcase the slowest 30 areas
LA105.9 Mbps15.1 Mbps0.6 Mbps10.9 Mbps
CA175.7 Mbps15.9 Mbps0.4 Mbps2.9 Mbps
NG335.7 Mbps17.4 Mbps0.7 Mbps4.4 Mbps
NR165.7 Mbps14.4 Mbps0.6 Mbps2.6 Mbps
SA195.6 Mbps11.1 Mbps0.5 Mbps2.7 Mbps
PO415.6 Mbps10.5 Mbps0.9 Mbps2.5 Mbps
SY185.5 Mbps11.1 Mbps0.5 Mbps1.7 Mbps
WR65.5 Mbps13.3 Mbps0.6 Mbps2.8 Mbps
MK95.4 Mbps23.1 Mbps0.7 Mbps9.6 Mbps
CA65.2 Mbps12.5 Mbps0.7 Mbps2 Mbps
TD115.2 Mbps10.7 Mbps0.5 Mbps2.1 Mbps
IV45.1 Mbps12.1 Mbps0.6 Mbps2.8 Mbps
LL205 Mbps12.2 Mbps0.5 Mbps1.7 Mbps
OX274.9 Mbps16.9 Mbps1.2 Mbps3.8 Mbps
SA444.8 Mbps11.4 Mbps0.6 Mbps2 Mbps
AB304.8 Mbps9.9 Mbps0.7 Mbps1.8 Mbps
IV544.6 Mbps9.3 Mbps0.3 Mbps1.2 Mbps
IV224.5 Mbps8.1 Mbps0.3 Mbps1 Mbps
CA54.4 Mbps13.8 Mbps0.8 Mbps2.6 Mbps
PA354.4 Mbps12.3 Mbps0.4 Mbps1.5 Mbps
LL244.2 Mbps11.3 Mbps0.7 Mbps2.4 Mbps
AB534.1 Mbps10.4 Mbps0.3 Mbps2.1 Mbps
LL214 Mbps12 Mbps0.3 Mbps2.1 Mbps
SA343.9 Mbps9.8 Mbps0.7 Mbps1.8 Mbps
PH153.9 Mbps8.4 Mbps0.3 Mbps1.3 Mbps
SA483.8 Mbps15.5 Mbps0.5 Mbps2.5 Mbps
SA413.4 Mbps19.7 Mbps0.3 Mbps5.4 Mbps
NE673.2 Mbps9.1 Mbps0.3 Mbps1.7 Mbps
LD63 Mbps6.1 Mbps0.4 Mbps0.9 Mbps
SA392.7 Mbps11.5 Mbps0.3 Mbps1.6 Mbps

The range of speeds is very wide and the median speeds at the foot of the table look like ADSL speeds from a decade ago and that is perhaps no suprise when SA39 has no ultrafast coverage and only 54.7% of premises with access to a superfast option, some people are clearly buying and testing the superfast option as reflected in the mean figures, but while some people will be on the phone ordering better broadband options the minute a service is available, others take time to spot that a faster option is available and may be put off by some of the upgrade costs, though we should highlight that for people in rural areas on older up to 8 Mbps ADSL only services the monthly price of VDSL2 services can be less so don't just rely on a quote from your existing provider. On some of the other slowest areas, LD6 47.2% superfast coverage, NE67 58.4%, SA41 59.9%, SA48 57.6%, PH15 21.8%.

A number of studies and spreadsheet re-ordering exercises in 2017 have published name and shame tables on broadband speeds, but none have published charts (that we know of) showing how the speeds observed from consumer speed tests correlates to the levels of superfast coverage and with our wealth of consumer speed test data and tracking the path to 95% superfast coverage and beyond that is pretty easy for us.

The chart conveys two messages that there is a link between superfast coverage and the median download, this is of course not rocket science but there are some areas such as PO41 with 83.6% superfast coverage recording median download speeds of just 5.6 Mbps suggesting that maybe the area has only just seen coverage increase significantly or take-up is lagging and if public money has been used to boost coverage increasing take-up is important as the higher the take-up the greater the gainshare money available to take coverage ever closer to 100%. The big cluster of postcode areas in 98% to 100% area is a reflection of the superfast roll-outs, and the broad spread of speeds down to the popularity of the ultrafast broadband options.

The chart of ultrafast coverage against download speeds has three main areas, those with no ultrafast broadband coverage on the 0% line with the spread showing the variations from take-up and observations, through to those areas with over 90% ultrafast availability which unsurprisingly are faster. The middle ground shows a slow but steady trend towards higher speeds, what is interesting is that the postcode areas with ultrafast coverage below the 10% mark tend to be those with Openreach GEA-FTTP coverage and one observation we will make is that two years ago it seemed as if more people were buying the faster 200 Mbps and 300 Mbps variants whereas in the last few months the number buying the fastest FTTP options has reduced, we suspect that poor visibility for these faster services on many comparison websites and pressures on utility spending for many, leading to people buying something sufficient for their needs, i.e. with full fibre if you buy a 38 Mbps or 50 Mbps product with distance having no impact you will be able to stream multiple HD streams (assuming the provider does not have massive congestion issues at peak time).

As for the list of over 3,400 postcode areas we have data for, the full list is not available but if you want to see some more information on your specific postcode you can search for your postcode code on our statistics site which updates coverage percentages weekly, area speeds every quarter and the 12 months of history for a postcode and its immediate area updates each month. For the local authority areas, the speed analysis is broken down by technology so you can see the relative speeds of ADSL, FTTC, cable and FTTH services in an area.

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