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UK broadband rollout lags in cities

Poor in Glasgow and Inverness worst off
Thu Jun 19 2014, 10:22

UK TELECOMS WATCHDOG Ofcom has published survey data that shows some major cities in the UK are lagging in the rollout of high-speed broadband, despite the perception that it's rural areas that are lagging behind.

Ofcom monitored cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge, Exeter, Glasgow, Inverness, Cardiff, Bangor, Belfast and Londonderry. The table below shows the disparity in NGA rollouts across cities, with Inverness scoring just two percent.

Ofcom NGA coverage chart

Ofcom's data also found an interesting correlation between the availability of broadband in city areas with the lowest average income. For example, in Manchester superfast broadband availability in the lowest-income area is 80.6 percent, compared with 86 percent across the entire city.

In Glasgow 57.8 percent of premises in low-income areas have access to superfast broadband, ten percent below the city average of 67 percent.

The city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland has the best availability of superfast broadband anywhere in the UK, far ahead of other locations such as London, Manchester and Exeter.

Ofcom research found that Londonderry had a 99 percent availability of next generation access (NGA) services from either BT or Virgin Media by the end of 2013.

By contrast, London had just an 88 percent availability of superfast services. This was the same in 2012 and 2013, as both BT and Virgin Media only extended their networks into areas where the other was already available, Ofcom explained.

BT said the report proved that fibre broadband was now well embedded in most major locations, but acknowledged that more work lay ahead.

"BT has identified a further £50m to further extend the availability of fibre across 30 cities. We will reveal which areas will benefit once detailed planning work has been completed."

Virgin Media spokesperson Emma Hutchinson said that the firm is doing all it can to get good broadband servcies to as many people as possible across the UK.

"We are committed to bringing the benefits of superfast connections to more people, from our groundbreaking WiFi on London Underground service and free city centre WiFi in Leeds, Bradford and Birmingham to superfast broadband connecting millions of homes across the UK," she said.

"We continue to invest in our network and look for the right opportunities to grow."

Overall, Ofcom consumer group director Claudio Pollack said the data proved that while access to good broadband is increasing all the time, it is vital to ensure no gaps in coverage are left.

"We know from previous research that rural areas often lack fast broadband coverage, something the government is helping to address with public funding," he said.

"Today's findings suggest that the usage and availability of faster broadband also vary widely between cities. We will carry out further work in this area to help bring faster broadband to UK homes, whether in cities or rural areas." µ


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