48 hours to download a film – welcome to Suffolk in 2011

The UK’s slowest broadband connections are more than 50 times slower than the national average, a speed survey has shown.

According to website uSwitch’s research – based on speed tests in 1.5m homes in the UK – a residential area called Mount Pleasant in Halesworth in Suffolk suffers download speeds of only 0.128Mbits/seconds, 53 times slower than the UK average of 6.8Mbits/sec.

By contrast, users in Leamington Spa enjoyed speeds of 18.86Mbits/sec in the research, which drilled down to individual street levels where the data provided a sample size of no fewer than 10 houses per postcode.

“While many areas of the country are already benefiting from the considerable investment into super-fast fibre optic networks, our research highlights the plight of households at the other end of the spectrum, struggling with download speeds so poor that in some cases it can hardly be considered a broadband service at all,” said uSwitch’s technology expert Ernest Doku.

Many of the streets that feature in the list aren’t in the far-flung countryside, but rather in more urban areas

The report noted it would take Mount Pleasant residents as long as 48 hours to download a single movie.

Joining Mount Pleasant at the slow end of the broadband Hall of Pain were Forestfield, Horsham, West Sussex (0.134Mbits/sec), Inchkeith Drive, Dunfermline, Fife (0.169Mbits/sec), Faraday Avenue, Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire (0.182Mbits/sec), Baird Avenue, Kilwinning, Ayrshire (0.225Mbits/sec) and Wheatears Drive, Romsey, Hampshire (0.242Mbits/sec).

Not just a rural divide

The research highlighted that slow broadband isn’t only a problem in isolated rural areas such as Cumbria and the wilds of Scotland, as West Sussex and Hampshire accounted for a quarter of the UK’s 20 slowest streets by broadband speed.

“What is particularly interesting is that many of the streets that feature in the list aren’t in the far-flung countryside, but rather in more urban areas, nearer to exchanges and where we would expect to see higher download speeds across the board,” Doku said.

The situation shows how difficult it will be for the Government to ensure the universal service commitment of 2Mbits/sec promised by 2015, with individual addresses, rather than entire regions, needing attention to meet the requirement.

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