Telecoms regulator Ofcom has said that although broadband is now available to the vast majority of British households, a significant number are still below an acceptable speed threshold.
97% of residential properties can receive speeds of at least 2 Megabytes per second (Mbps), which is the minimum speed targeted by the British government.
However, Ofcom believes that in these days of always online, music and video streaming and digital downloads, a connection speed of 10 Mbps is a far more appropriate minimum requirement for most broadband customers.
According to the regulator, 15% of UK homes cannot achieve speeds of 10 Mbps, with 3% unable to achieve even 2 Mbps.
Yet according to their report ‘there is emerging evidence that a typical household requires a download speed of around 10 Mbps. Below this level, demand is likely to be constrained’.
The current minimum standard of 2 Mbps was set by the government back in 2009, and Ofcom suggested that this may need to be reconsidered in light of recent advancements in superfast technology.
The Ofcom report also revealed that a quarter of British homes still do not have fixed line broadband at all, although some of these properties will be served by mobile broadband.
In addition, 18% or so do not have any internet at all, though in many cases this seems to be the result of choice rather than necessity.
Andrew Ferguson, editor of the Think Broadband website, believes that while the overall picture is one of improvement, ‘there is still a huge gap between the haves and the have nots’.
Mr Ferguson points out that ‘three to four million households still don’t have access to superfast broadband, while others don’t realise it is available in their area’.
75% of UK premises are capable of receiving superfast (30 Mbps minimum) broadband, but so far a mere 21% of the population has taken advantage.
Additional issues include poor service in rural areas, and the fact that the further away from your local cabinet you live, the slower your broadband speed will be, even in superfast-connected areas.