Britain’s broadband ‘postcode lottery’ means people in some areas are forced to wait 21 hours to download a movie – longer than a flight to Australia.
Residents in Thorpe Lane in Suffolk’s Trimley St Martin hold the dubious honour of having the country’s slowest internet. They can’t use video-streaming services such as Skype in high-definition, and even checking Facebook can be frustrating.
Their broadband speeds average just 0.68 megabits per second (mbps) – 53 times slower than for the average household and an incredible 260 times slower than the fastest speeds.
Residents in Benford Avenue, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, however, enjoy speeds of 177.1mbps, meaning they can download a movie in under five minutes.
Benford Avenue resident William Perkins, 73, said: ‘I’m a bit surprised to hear that we’ve got the fastest broadband in the country. I knew we were quick but I didn’t think we were that quick.’
Back in Thorpe Lane, resident Ann Owen, 65, said: ‘I also have a cottage in the Orkney Isles where there is nothing but the sea and me, but the connection there is much better. The broadband here is incredibly slow. You cannot do two or three things on your laptop at once as other people manage to do. In fact, it can be difficult to do anything during the evening.’
Retired youth worker Gillian Hockley, 66, said: ‘I don’t use the internet that much, but when I do it is very slow. Sometimes, I can’t even access it at all.
‘I know it is bad here because my daughter in Ipswich has much higher speeds.
‘She can access something on the internet in a couple of seconds when it might take me ten minutes sometimes. I have an iPad and I tried to do some internet shopping, but couldn’t do it so I told my daughter what I wanted and she did it for me.’
Residents in Thorpe Lane in Suffolk’s Trimley St Martin hold the dubious honour of having the country’s slowest internet
But others said that – although their broadband is slow – it is not quite as slow as the 0.68mbps uSwitch suggests.
Quantity surveyor Andy Lowe, 38, insisted he was happy with the broadband in the lane.
Mr Lowe said: ‘I work from home one or two days a week and use the internet constantly for work as well as for streaming music and connecting to the TV. It’s totally fine.’
Mother-of-two Lizzy Bryatt, 35, said: ‘I am with Sky and I can always get online. My husband works from home in IT and he has no complaints. I am always downloading videos for the kids.’
Others took the view that there are simply more important things to worry about.
Retired chartered accountant Ian Cowan, 70, who lives with wife Wendy, 65, said: ‘I quite happily use the internet for shopping and research while Wendy watches catch up TV. I know things are much better in the centre of the village. People have claimed to get 30 to 40 Mbps there.
Residents in Benford Avenue, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, however, enjoy speeds of 177.1mbps, meaning they can download a movie in under five minutes
‘But there are far greater problems in life, I would rather have mains drainage here. We have got nothing to protest about.’
Thorpe Lane is a considerable distance from the nearest telephone exchange, which is itself connected to the web via old-fashioned copper-based wires. By contrast, Benford Avenue is linked to Virgin Media’s fibre broadband network, which boasts potential speeds of 300mbps.
Consumer website uSwitch, which carried out the research based on more than a million speed tests, said it was shocked by the range – and the sluggish internet access in some parts of the country. Broadband expert Ewan Taylor-Gibson said: ‘It is astonishing to think that you could fly to Sydney in the time it takes to download a film on the UK’s slowest street.
‘Reasons for such sluggish broadband speeds can vary and can include a user’s distance from the nearest exchange.’
Most of the UK’s broadband services run on the BT Openreach network, which offers fibre in some parts of the country but only copper in others.
Thorpe Lane resident Ian Cowan, 70, who lives with wife Wendy, 65, said he does not have many problems with his internet
However, Virgin has its own fibre network which runs all the way to each house where the service is available. Sheskin Gardens in Londonderry and Crosswood Road in Swindon, which took second and third places, are also linked to fibre and enjoy speeds of 158.5mbps and 158.4mbps respectively. Surprisingly, there is not a single London street in the top ten.
Shockingly, uSwitch found that a fifth of homes in Britain have broadband that limps along at less than 10mbps, while nearly one in ten have to make do with less than 5mbps.
Mr Taylor-Gibson said: ‘While cable services offering the fastest broadband speeds aren’t available at any of the UK’s slowest streets, fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband should be accessible at more than two thirds of the most sluggish postcodes – something that might be a surprise to those that have been frustrated enough to run a speed test.’