Rural broadband nearly three times as slow as urban connections header image

Published: 15th Apr 2014

The average broadband connection in rural areas is nearly three times as slow as in urban locations. 

This is according to the latest statistics from Ofcom, which show the typical rural download speed in November 2013 was 11.3 Mbps, compared to 31.9 Mbps in urban areas. For suburban regions the figure was 21.8 Mbps, meaning the national average was 17.8 Mbps. 

An Ofcom statement said: "One key reason for the slower speeds in rural areas is the limited availability of super-fast broadband services. In addition, broadband speeds over ADSL, a technology that uses the copper wire telephone network, are generally slower in rural areas because of the longer distances to the telephone exchange."

One way rural residents can avoid these problems is by turning to satellite broadband, which can provide speeds of up to 20 Mbps regardless of location. The government has acknowledged the potential of the technology, highlighting it as a means of improving connectivity in the UK's hardest-to-reach areas earlier this year.

Ofcom said that while broadband speeds are improving, more work is needed, especially in rural areas. It also claimed problems can occur in urban locations and said a report into the issue will be released later in the year. 

Dominic Baliszewski of Broadband Choices stated there are a few factors that should be considered when reviewing Ofcom's figures. He claimed the 17.8 Mbps national average is likely to be skewed by the very high speeds delivered by fibre connections and the 69 per cent of the population using ADSL services will be unlikely to have a connection faster than ten Mbps.

Meanwhile, he said the 11.3 Mbps average for rural areas will be "dismissed as fantasy" by many of the people who live in the countryside and struggle to get a connection any faster than two Mbps.

Mr Baliszewski pointed to Somerset mechanical engineer David Blower, whose connection rarely exceeds 2.5 Mbps despite only being 30 miles away from Bristol, as an example of this.