UK Falls Behind in Global Broadband Speeds Table

The UK has fallen from 31st to 35th place in the global rankings of broadband speed, with Bulgaria, Poland, Canada and Iceland leapfrogging the United Kingdom. It was UK broadband comparison site Cable that compiled data from M-Lab, a research partnership between Princeton University’s PlantLab and Google Open Source Research, coming up with a ranked list of 200 countries from fastest broadband speeds to the slowest.

While last year’s ranking placed the UK at 31st, many expected a slight rise as this year saw global broadband speeds rise. The UK’s disappointing drop has been attributed to the poor rolling out of full-fibre connections across the UK.

Global Broadband Speeds on the Rise

While the UK performed disappointingly this year, on average the world has seen a rise in broadband speeds from 7.40Mbps up to 9.10Mbps. Cable noted that while the 23% rise in average global broadband speeds was considerable and a positive sign, they noted that the improvement mainly comes from the rollout of fibre technology in the first half of the table.

This means that there’s comparatively very little development in the bottom half of the table, widening the gap between the countries with the fastest and slowest broadband speeds. While the top 100 nations gained an average of 5.43Mbps this past year, the bottom 100 in the table only gained an average of 0.41Mbps.

UK Households Struggling with Broadband Problems

This isn’t the only poor piece of broadband news the UK has received recently, as more than half of UK households reported broadband problems in April of 2018. More than 1,900 customers across 12 providers contributed to the polling, with approximately 20% of customers having experienced slow broadband speeds in the past year.

It isn’t just broadband speeds that are causing complaints, many polled customers were dissatisfied with rising broadband prices. Price was the top complaint about BT and Virgin Media’s service, with 30% of BT customers reporting an increase in costs and 47% of Virgin Media customers suffering from price rises.

UK Broadband Advertising Regulation Changes

Continuing on with UK’s slow start to 2018’s broadband speeds, it was revealed in May that UK households were getting half of the broadband speed they pay for. With customers on a 38Mbps service actually having average speeds of 19Mbps, regulation was put in place issuing that broadband providers are no longer able to advertise their speeds as “up to” unless over 50% of their customers receive that speed at peak times.

No longer will customers on super-fast packages advertised as “up to 200Mbps” be getting actual speeds of 52Mbps. This regulation was a significant step forward but also showed how far behind the UK truly is in broadband speeds.

UK Coming Late to the Fibre Party

The UK’s lack of broadband speeds is primarily due to the poor full-fibre rollout across the kingdom, leaving many rural residents without the previously-promised superfast broadband. Some rural communities have even reportedly abandoned by BT operators meant to be installing superfast broadband, leaving fibre hanging from telegraph poles rather than finishing the job. 

If all of this wasn’t enough, it was found that certain providers in the UK were using the word “fibre” in advertising connections which also relied on copper connections. While the Advertising Standards Authority is doing their best to regulate broadband advertisements, there are still fears that the general public can be easily misled regarding fibre broadband services.

A Full-Fibre Future by 2033

Despite all the lousy broadband news for the UK, the government’s National Infrastructure Commission (Nic) has put out a report calling for full-fire broadband to be deployed across the UK by the year 2033. Various company roadmaps have between one to three million urban premises receiving broadband by 2022; however the Nic has said that full-fibre will be available to 15 million homes in the UK by 2025.

Once the UK has received a full-fibre rollout it’s likely we’ll see it jump back up in the global broadband speeds rankings. However, we’ll have to see if the service manages to reach rural areas and if it indeed is “full-fibre” as advertised.  

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