Broadband

4.4 million UK homes have slower broadband than London Underground’s free Wi-Fi, research reveals


While platforms across London’s Underground network are hitting average speeds of 19.8Mbits/sec, 4.4 million homes are struggling to achieve even half of these speeds, according to the latest Uswitch research.  

 The price comparison site’s Tube Surfing Study analysed Virgin Media Wi-Fi speeds across 99 station platforms in Zone 1 of TFL’s underground rail network. This not only revealed where Londoners and people passing through can get the best signal, but how these speeds compare to the state of the UK’s wider broadband network. 

Out of 99 station platforms, 30 in Zone 1 qualify as having superfast fibre broadband, with speeds exceeding 24Mbit/sec. The fastest speeds of 49.7Mbits/sec were found at Edgware, where a one-hour TV show can be downloaded in just 40 seconds, while the fastest tube line is Bakerloo, clocking speeds that are four times faster (24Mbits/sec) than the slowest line, District (5.58Mbits/sec). 

To obtain the average speeds, phones were connected to the Virgin Media Wi-Fi network on the London underground at each station and speeds were recorded using the Uswitch broadband test. Three speeds were recorded at each Zone 1 station platform and an average was taken to give that station’s overall speed. 

Data was recorded and ranked in order of slowest and fastest station overall, and per line. This data was then analysed by USwitch and compared to existing research about broadband speeds across the country. 

4.4 million broadband-connected UK homes still subscribe to an ADSL-based service according to the latest Ofcom research and the average speeds of these homes is 8.8Mbits/sec. 

The average broadband speed in the UK is 54.2Mbits/sec, but research based on more than 122,845 real-world speed tests over the past year, found that a fifth (19%) struggle with speeds of less than 10Mbits/sec, while one in ten (9%) crawl along at less than 5Mbits/sec – 88% of platforms in Zone 1 exceed the slowest of these speeds.

The 4G roll out on the London Underground is due to begin this month. This initial trial will see 4G installed on part of the Jubilee line between Westminster and Canning Town. The Jubilee line currently ranks as the fourth-fastest underground line, with an average of 19.9Mbits/sec, just missing out on superfast status.

Nick Baker, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, said: “It is amazing that the oldest underground network in the world can provide its users with the means to stay connected and download their favourite programmes whilst travelling but the fact the current Wi-Fi on the tube offers faster connections than 30% of broadband-connected homes in the UK receive, just goes to show the extent of the digital divide across the country.”

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