How does British broadband match up to the rest of the world? header image

Published: 24th Mar 2014

The internet has become a vital part of day-to-day life all over the world. For that reason the quality of broadband services is a now an important means of measuring the economic status of a country and the quality of life of its citizens.

Here in the UK, the government is currently working towards a goal of having the best super-fast broadband network by 2015. But how is the coalition faring in achieving this goal and how does British broadband match up to the rest of the world?

The big five
Along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the UK is considered to be one of Europe's big five economies and the country's progress is often compared to these nations. 

According to Ofcom, Britain is currently leading the big five when it comes to broadband. Its latest European Broadband Scorecard said super-fast availability in the UK now stands at 73 per cent - higher than anywhere else in the top five. 

However, not everyone is impressed with British broadband as German chancellor Angela Merkel recently mocked prime minister David Cameron regarding the length of time the government's rollout of super-fast connections is taking.

The rest of Europe
While the UK is doing fairly well against the rest of the big five, it still has some way to go if it's to have the best broadband in Europe. The latest State of the Internet report from Akamai shows Britain's broadband is currently the ninth fastest on the continent. 

With an average speed of 9.1 Mbps it is a little way behind Europe's fastest countries - the Netherlands (12.5 Mbps), Switzerland (11.6 Mbps) and the Czech Republic (11.3 Mbps). Ireland comes in at fifth with an average connection speed of 9.6 Mbps.

North America
Akamai put the UK slightly behind the US when it comes to broadband speeds, with the latter having an average of 9.8 Mbps, putting it eight in the world overall. It ranks Britain as having the 14th fastest internet in the world. The UK comes in above Canada however, which has an average speed of 8.8 Mbps.

Asia and Australia
The world leaders when it comes to broadband are in Asia. All of the top three nations on Akamai's list are on the continent, with South Korea coming first thanks to its average connection speed of 22.1 Mbps. It is followed by Japan (13.3 Mbps) and Hong Kong (12.5 Mbps).

Australia comes in some way behind however, with an average speed of just 5.5 Mbps, which puts it at 43rd in the world.

Thus it seems that while the UK has a respectable broadband ranking on the global stage there is still a significant gap between the country and a number of other nations. Satellite broadband is one of the ways in which Britain can bridge this gap as it is ideally suited to bringing fast internet access to the country's remote areas. 

Indeed, this has been recognised by the government, which recently set aside £10 million in funding to help satellite and other alternative broadband providers improve connectivity across the nation.