back to article UK shamed in high-speed broadband study

The Netherlands have the fastest internet connections in Europe according to a State of the Internet report by Akamai, with more than 68 per cent of Dutch broadband lines clocking in at 5Mbit/s or more. That compares to only 30 per cent of UK connections at least hitting this high-speed broadband mark, leaving the UK in 15th …


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  1. Greg 16

    "Brno in the Czech Republic has the fastest connection speeds of any city in Europe at an average of 8.3Mbit/s."

    Is our average through choice or through whats available? I'm pretty certain that in many UK towns an average 10Mbit connection is available - but some people just check e-mails, so don't mind going for cheap 2Mbit packages. Same with "Super high speed connections" I would consider myself to be a very heavy internet user, and even I can't justify the extra cost to increase my current 12Mbit connection - theres just no need right now (though that may change in future with things like YouView etc)

    1. Andrew Waite


      I had the same question.

      My connection (and that of most I know) is significantly faster than the poor speeds mentioned in the report. I haven't read the full report (registration required), does it just look at download speeds or all attributable factors for a quality connection? i.e. up/down speeds, latency, ISP peering/transit provisions etc.

    2. Mark 65

      I have another question on this front - how is it measured? Are Akamai measuring it through sync speed on the line or the rate at which the user can suck up data? If it is the latter then perhaps UK ISP networks are the problem i.e. I may have a 12Mbit/s connection but my oversubscribed ISP is only giving me 2Mbit/s most of the time etc. Although this reflects real world speeds it doesn't necessarily tell you where the problem sits. In fact, as faster connections roll out could this become common place because the fault is with the ISPs overselling and under-investing?

  2. TheManCalledStan

    Not surprising with OFCOMs dithering...

    Whilst the rest of Europe allowed the rest of their incumbent telecoms companies to begin domestic fibre, OFCOM dithered until 2009 until allowing BT to begin domestic fibre roll-out.

    VM burdened by debt has limited capacity to increase it's footprint.

    And smaller ISPs don't have the capital for larger roll-outs necessary.

    So, the blame is clear OFCOM and UKgov dithering...

  3. Tom_


    5Mb might have been high speed about ten years ago.

    I recently moved out of London and had to come down to 11Mb and I felt like crying.

    1. Haku

      quiet you!

      I only have around 4.5Mb (5Mb) sync speeds on a good day, but I have no throttling (port or day/evening/whatever) and no download limits so that's at least a positive, keeping an eye on the clock and download amount was a real pain in the arse on other ISPs.

      Though I have been kicked off 3 different ISPs many years ago for overuse of accounts that were actually called unlimited... including dialup!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      You should be so lucky.


      ADSL 1.2M

      ADSL2 Not available

      FTTC 9Mb for lots and lots of money and a cap

      One of my work conns

      ADSL 97K

      ADSL2 200K

      FTTC 2014

      FTTB You are joking??

    3. Marvin the Martian

      "moved out of London and had to come down"

      There you go.

      Strange that geography isn't mentioned at all: Holland is a flat roundish country where 75% of the population lives in a London-sized central area (with a london-sized population), so it's a no-brainer why they'd top this list.

  4. Monkey Bob

    I'm loving the Digital Region FTTC/VDSL thing in South Yorkshire, I'm on the cheapest package, the usual advertised 24 down 2 up. On test during an evening I've got an average of 23.5 down & 1.9 up. Line rental sorted through them too so I never have to deal with BT any more.

    All through a small friendly local company with no call centre, unlimited, no traffic shaping that I've noticed (though my testing only consisted of turning off all the encryption on torrent program & trying something big).

  5. Chris Miller

    Genuinely intrigued

    What are you doing that needs more than 11Mb? If (like the majority of UK citizens) you've chosen to live in your own (semi-)detached pile of bricks, you shouldn't be surprised that data rates are less than if (like many citizens of Japan, S Korea, etc.) you choose to live in large apartment blocks, where a single fibre connection and a bit of UTP can deliver 1Gb to every occupant (as long as they don't all try to use them at once).

    1. Tom 38

      I live in one of those aforementioned large apartment blocks. BT have fibred up the entire area, and whilst every single typical 2 up/2 down terrace in Newham has fibre available, the ostensibly simpler apartment blocks are being ignored - I'm stuck with 'rubbish' 17Mb/s.

    2. Mark 65

      I'm guessing that faster connections help for when people live in houses that share their connections with other occupants - parents watching HD iPlayer feed, kids doing the same and/or gaming etc, it all adds up. I don't see speed requirements coming down any time soon especially with more VOD services coming along.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        An HD iPlayer feed is currently only 3.5Mb/s. Your typical family all watching a different HD feed is still going to give you change out of a 20Mb/s connection. Even if iPlayer is ramped up closer to broadcast rates it's still unlikely to be higher than 10Mb/s.

        In theory at least most families should find BT's FTTC perfectly adequate for all their IPTV needs even without the vaunted doubling in speeds they've announced.

  6. Tim 11

    is it such a big deal?

    for people who aren't doing loads of illegal downloads, a 1Mb connection is probably fine.

    I work for a small IT company and in our office we have a domestic quality DSL broadband connection (5Mb) shared between 8 people. very rarely is downstream access a problem. We could certainly use more upstream bandwidth but as we're an IT company we're not typical in that respect.

    1. Fat Jez

      try streaming BBC HD from iPlayer and you'll realise 1Mbps isn't enough, never mind downloading the odd service pack from MS or OS X update which can take hours.

      1. TonyG

        As Fat Jez says - if you want to stream TV you'll need more than 1Mbps.

        Rough rules of thumb (taken from the BBC) HD requires 3500kbps and SD 1500 kbps so a 1Mbps connection just doesn't cut it these days.

        Through contention into the mix and multiple computers in a household even 5Mbps is looking close to the mark for streaming TV.

    2. HMB

      640K of RAM, I mean 1Mbps of Internet should be enough

      I don't imagine you use iPlayer for watching video, or HD youtube. One wonders if you bother keeping your Windows computers up to date or updates for things like Ubuntu.

      It seems you're not a fan of online hard disk backup services, quality video conferencing or buying music & video online.

      In my work I upload files to remote servers, I use remote desktop across the Internet and I happen to want to be able to do one thing that might use bandwidth (say downloading the latest Ubuntu iso) without it slowing down other users.

      I would agree with you that basic web surfing is acceptable in 1Mbps, but don't you aspire to any technological innovation and progress at all?

    3. Mike H.

      I gather that you've yet to rent an HD movie from the Playstation store then?

    4. Tom 38
      Thumb Down

      Lets see, typical "dont talk to each other modern family" use case:

      1) Mum in lounge, watching 'Enders on iplayer - 1.5Mb/s

      2) Dad in study, watching cricket on Sky Go - 3 Mb/s

      3) Spotty youth #1 in bedroom, watching 'adult educational' films - 1 Mb/s

      4) Spotty youth #2 in (different) bedroom, downloading movies from itunes - 10 Mb/s

      5) Pre-spotty youth in bedroom playing Wow - wants pings below 50ms

      I don't doubt that 2Mb/s is enough for an office of 5 people, who probably rarely stream content over the intertubes, and mainly read email/web pages. 56k was enough once upon a time.

    5. John H Woods Silver badge

      Not typical ...

      Exactly. I have a house which often (if you include nieces, friends etc) has the same population as your IT Company. We could easily have the girls on Youtube, the boys on the PS3s, wife doing IPTV and me doing RDP. whilst listen to IP radio. That's even before updates (to 6 or so devices), offline iPlayer recording, and the occasional bit of Skyping, sometimes with video.

      I'm sure this wouldn't be acceptable in an 8-person company, but it's not that abnormal for a household. A *steady* 2Mb/s each (enough for std def video) would be good, and that puts us at a requirement for 10Mb/s minimum whilst everything is fully legal.

      What actually happens is that the nominal 7Mb/s is progressively traffic managed so that if do a quick speedtest and then think you can start watching something on iPlayer it becomes unwatchable after the first 45 mins.

    6. AndrueC Silver badge

      We're the same. We're actually part of a trans-Atlantic development team working on Exchange and SharePoint back-end stuff. We share just over 4Mb/s and it suffices most of the time. It's only an issue if/when we have to download large datasets but even then most of what the developers use is rarely more than half an hour to an hour to download. If we have an urgent need to access something larger we just remote into one of the machines 'Stateside. Works perfectly well.

      But home use is different. That's the rather sad irony. If a business has a data rate need then it can pay for a fibre connection. There's almost no-where that can't get fibre if you have a business case with business funds to back it up.

      Unfortunately it's the home users by and large with the big bandwidth requirements. But even there it's not as bad as some make out. Broadcast quality HD (even live HD with on the fly compression) works fine at 10Mb/s. That means a typical FTTC connection of >30Mb/s should be good enough for most families.

  7. Jim 59

    Network upgrades

    These other countries are faster becuase they don't have a comfortable monopoly policed by a pointless quango staffed by innefective managers on telephone number salaries, gorging themselves on a torrent of public cash while providing third rate service to the world's most docile consumers.

    1. HMB

      Re: Network upgrades

      Bloody well said!

      I have a supposed 8Mbps connection with a "friendly Yorkshire based broadband company" which operates in London and is owned by BT (they weren't when I signed up). I'd jump ship but in a rural area there is no real choice.

      My 8Mbps connection can't manage the 1.5Mbps low def iPlayer service at 9pm even when I'm still within my bandwidth "allowance".

      It doesn't matter what peak rates you get from an HTTP server if your ISP interferes with perfectly legitimate services well within what your product should provide and neuter them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "comfortable monopoly policed by a pointless quango staffed by innefective managers on telephone number salaries, gorging themselves on a torrent of public cash "

      What, you mean France Telecom ?

      1. Jim 59

        France Telecom

        French chief executives! Come to Britain. The regulators are supine, the pay is just awesome, you won't have to achieve anything and you will get a knighthood after 15 years.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still stuck on 2Mbps

    The graphs over at akamai are really rather interesting - and once again South Korea just wipes the floor with us with what looks like an average of 13Mbps.

    Meanwhile I wish someone from BT would come along and tighten the bit of damp string that connects me to the Intertubes.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm lucky if I can get a stuttering 5MB, but then my local ISP in Hull is a monopoly provider.

    Oh well, at least this shows our digital infrastructure is keeping pace with our transport infrastructure. Perhaps we ought to leave Europe after all - then we might not get so embarrassed when we get compared to it.

  10. Johnsz

    Being from the US I found this figure to be of interest... "The overall average (presumably the arithmetic "mean,") broadband access speed for the United States as a whole in the fourth quarter of 2010 was 5.1 Mbps, according to Akamai." It seems that we're lacking in more than one type of infrastructure in the US.

  11. AndrueC Silver badge

    Deep rather than fast. I prefer that model. The Japanese might have the fastest but if you don't live in a city you probably have nothing. They also apparently have low take-up in general. At least in the UK you've got to be unlucky not to have some level of broadband and as the report says most people have at least 2Mb/s.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just recently managed to download a 1.49GB file in 31 seconds. not sure how, as I normally get about 15mb/s.

    And yes, i did check, and i did get the whole file....

    Also, is there a chance that our (UK's) 'average' is being brought down by the masses of people that have crap (or no) connections (by choice), against those who choose to have half way decent connections. As opposed to there being lots of areas with no good connections available.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't believe you

      The El Reg email address list wasn't anywhere near that big

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "I remember when all we had was 56k". Theres a monty python skit rearing its head... And I'm only 34!

    1. Steve Knox

      56k? You were lucky!

      All we had was 300baud -- and we had to squeak the handshaking into phone ourselves!


    2. carter brandon

      You were lucky! I joined Demon in 1992 and was using a 14k modem that cost 200 quid. I'm happy to get 15mb today, with a router I had given. And I'm only 61!

    3. CarlC

      Yea Up

      I remember 300 baud, and then1200/75 (Prestel) . 9600 was sheer bliss. Of course that was after I had eaten a handful of cold poison for breakfast and work'd down mill for 75 hours a day.

      Tell the smartphone enabled kids that these days and they just don't believe ya!!!

      1. stuff and nonesense

        Anyone remember

        50 baud punched tape BT teletype machines?

        70 baud and then 100 baud felt like huge upgrades!

  14. Dinky Carter

    Japanese sky jungles

    One of the reasons that Japan has hugely fast internet speeds is that the cables are simply slung in the air from existing utility posts, which also carry mains electricity. Look above your head in any Japanese street and you'll see an ugly jungle of wires, junction boxes and transformers. It looks a mess, but installation and maintenance are a doddle. Plus Japanese ISP charges are at least 4 times UK charges.

  15. Pavlovs well trained dog


    Most of the comments above that say "why do you ever need more?" simply lack imagination

    I have the middle / average offering from my media supplier (phone, TV and 'net) and a just-ran speedtest gives me 59Mb down and 6Mb up

    would I change it to something lower? Would I hell..

    forget torrents (it's not illegal here, so off that high horse of yours please) - *everything* on the 'net is glorious and pretty darn near instant.

    gotta love Amsterdam :)

    1. Stu_The_Jock

      59/6 ?

      Nice speeds but my last test was 40.1 down and 45.5up . . and that's on my Norwegian ISPs entry level offering if we take phone and TV with web. I "can" upgrade to 400/400 but don't REALLY see the point (Nor do I suspect that my wife would let me spend that much on it)

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    What would you prefer

    A choice of 2Mb for a tenner, 5 for 20quid etc on up

    Or a mandated government minimum of 24Mb which costs 100quid/month or nothing?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      >A choice of 2Mb for a tenner, 5 for 20quid etc on up

      >Or a mandated government minimum of 24Mb which costs 100quid/month or nothing?

      ..and is only available in large towns and cities.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most of the UK market is more interested in cheap rather than good or fast. Hello Sky, TalkTalk, and other bundle vendors (BT Sheffield too, I guess).

    It doesn't leave much room for others who might want to focus on quality rather than price.

  18. Steve X


    This surely isn't much of a surprise. Is there anywhere in the Netherlands where it's even possible to live as far from an exchange as one can in rural England or Scotland? Take any small, modern,homogeneous densely-populated country (NL has 2x population density than UK) and you'll find better availabilitiy of services than in a big equivalent.

  19. SirDigalot

    i feel like crying also...

    we are moving to a different part of the good old USof A and the fastest offering they will be giving us in the new location will be a paultry 16/3, but i guess it is a price to pay for not having to deal with a midwest winter again, so now i am downloading all my downloadable content and games before i join the slowskis... however the bright side it the absolutely pathetic speed offering also means my monthly bill will be chopped by almost 2/3rds I wouldn't really mind but it is not as if we are moving to the arse end of nowhere.

  20. silver fox

    Call me cynical...

    ...but my 8Mbps service, which I've had for years, now only delivers @ 3.5 on a very good day. It's got noticably slower of late. Oh, and I've also been bombarded by mail from BT trying to flog their new Infinity broadband.

    They wouldn't, would they...?

  21. All names Taken

    UK management drivels?

    Is there a pattern here?






    State Benefits



    Why is it that in the UK anything national or nationalised is managed atrociously?

    UK as 15th ranker (in Europe?) is probably a reflection of BT and of its Whitehall overlords no?

    Moral: never let Whitehall influence permeate where it should never, ever reach?

    1. stuff and nonesense






      You missed out Gas, Water and Electricity.

      The common element with the consumer facing companies above is that they overcharge like crazy and give out huge bonusses to their directors.

      The non-consumer facing companies have effectively gone bust (steel has been sold many times).


      State Benefits

      These are services paid for in taxation. Healt and Benefits are necessarily expensive. There must be redundancy in the systems for them to be able to function PROPERLY when STRESSED - that is, when there is a period of high demand such as winter flu.

      NHS wait times came down from 18 months for non-essential consultations (arthritic knees) to 18 weeks over the 13 years from 1997 to 2010. In 1994 I had wisdom teeth removed (NHS), I had waited in pain for 3 years.

      1. All names Taken
        Paris Hilton

        I suppose DVLA and local councils are not too well known for their ruthless efficiencies and customer care (wonder what OFGEM would make of that and pondering why there is no OFX for Whitehall managed services.)

        Trouble is the poor UK subject is often exposed to triple whammies or even n-tuple whammies modelled something like:

        Whammy #1 - central government

        Whammy #2 - the service provider (eg local council)

        Whammy #3 - service providers upper or mid management employees (usually under mistaken belief that if they further cut services beyond levels imposed in Whammies #1 and #2 then they just might attract a pay rise this year (maybe even 3%!)

        Whammy #4 - employees influenced upper or mid management decisions outlined in #3 above (the poor fools?)

  22. Zack Mollusc
    Thumb Down


    My mighty Virgin Media broadband gives me 7/0.4 which I would happily swap for 2/2 as I could then use incredible new technology such as VNC. At the current rate of improvement, cloud computing should be viable in a few decades.

  23. JDEvolutionist

    The UK is not good!!

    From my experiences around the UK, I don't think your findings are that surprising! In general, as soon as you get a few miles outside of a major city it seems that coverage and speed drops significantly. And no, that does not do a lot for downloading data and programmes let alone 'cloud services' !! It's like so many aspects of the UK, we're constantly told we have / are the BEST but it's a LIE - generally we are very second / third rate only in the amount that we are PAY OUT and are TAXED do we excel!,

  24. Paul 135

    Can't complain

    BT just upgraded my relatively rural UK exchange to ADSL2+ today. Went from 8 to 12. Mbit.

  25. BatCat

    Recently upgraded...

    ... to 100MB on Virgin Media and reliably getting 99.25MB/s down and 8.58MB/s up all day long.

    I live in a semi-rural location that just happens to have been cabled up before the cable roll-out hit the buffers. There's no technical reason why just about every location in the UK could have similar speed services. Maybe instead of wasting billions on HS2, the government should invest the money in a fibre-optic network infrastructure to promote business development outside London, rather than ruining what's left of the British countryside.

  26. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    I suppose DVLA and local councils are not well known for their sharp customer focus and ruthless efficiencies.

    On the other hand there is the Passport Service which seems to be a bit f an anomaly in Whitehall managed services.

    But! Beware or triple, quadruple or n-tuple whammies.

    Whammy #1 - central government cuts

    Whammy #2 - local council/service provider cuts

    Whammy #3 - upper or mid management invoked self-interest cuts in addition to those established in #1 and #2 above

    Whammy #4 - council/service provider employees acting under (improper) influence of #3 above (perhaps as a means to obtain a 3% wage increase? poor fools?)

    Incidentally #3 and #4 represent an improper use of public funds by setting them aside for purposes other than what they were intended for.

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