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Why are UK broadband speeds trailing behind?

Posted by Anthony Karibian on Aug 23, 2017 9:46:00 AM

A new report shows that across the UK the average broadband download speed is 16.5Mbps, meaning we rank 31st in the world, and trail behind most of Europe.

Putting this into perspective, at 16.5Mbps it will take roughly an hour to download a long film, such as The Hobbit, or a box set, such as Lost. The fastest speeds, 55Mbps, in Singapore will be 3 times quicker to download the same film or box set.

Mr Shapps, MP, said: "It is unacceptable that there are still no minimum standards in the UK telecoms sector to protect customers from protracted complaints procedures, and ensure that broadband providers are fully accountable to their customers." And to an extent I fully agree with this. Broadband is now a utility in the UK, and standards need to be created and maintained to ensure we don’t slip further behind in global broadband speeds.

Why are speeds so slow?

BT have dominated the market since broadband came into existence, and to this day BT owns the whole ADSL infrastructure, and other companies, like Talk Talk or Sky just rent the space from BT.

BT launched its Openreach division over 10 years ago which is responsible for building and maintaining the tens of millions of copper and fibre lines. But the story was the same, they dominate the market. There has been no competition in the broadband market! No wonder our speeds are slower than most of Europe!

Current high speed options in the UK, including FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) can provide speeds up to 80 mbps yet BT have not invested sufficiently over the years to make this more widely available to many businesses.

Because I am a critic of BT, I’d like to see them investing more into the broadband infrastructure, replacing slow copper wires, with optical fibre wires to give the UK faster speeds.

But in March of this year, after a 2 year debate, BT has agreed to separate from Openreach. I think it is important to add here, that they have been forced to split by Ofcom, in order to improve competition and encourage a healthy market to provide the best speeds for customers.

Openreach are the suppliers of FTTC and super fast fibre broadband is thought to be the future of internet. It is hoped that this split will in turn encourage more investment into strengthening the fibre network in the UK and lead to increasing speeds for both households and businesses.

Although BT is separating from Openreach, they’re not fully split, and BT still controls the budget and makes the executive decisions. So despite the split, it seems BT are still pulling the strings.

I find it outrageous that one company has been able to dominate the market for so long, without putting in the proper investment.  It is also shocking that this domination has allowed the UK to have fallen so far behind in broadband speeds in the UK.

So what does this mean for businesses in the UK?

At bOnline, we provide broadband to many customers, as well as providing a number of other digital services. One of the common comments we receive is about the speed of our line. With the UK crawling behind most other large cities, including Germany, Canada, USA, the speed is a problem.

The reality of it is, slow internet is a real time waster. For small businesses in the UK, you have more to worry about than slow broadband, however in the UK speeds are extremely under developed. Stats have shown that poor internet speeds mean employees lose 44 minutes of work each week due to slow internet speeds. This cost the UK economy £11 Billion in 2016. This is a colossal sum for a ‘utility’ and frankly, in 2017, it’s unacceptable.

But, the fact the BT is splitting from Openreach is a ray of hope for customers, healthy competition will encourage faster speeds and lower prices - not only this, but better customer service too. This, along with the news of the UK ranking 31st in the world’s broadband speeds, should mean faster solutions soon!

I’d like to reassure our customers that, although the UK speeds are limiting, we are working with the best suppliers to ensure your business gets the best speeds possible. We also have a fibre broadband package, for even faster speeds. We are working as hard as we can to ensure you don’t lose time or money due to poor speeds.

Topics: Broadband, CEO's blog

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