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The UK’s worst Internet-connected regions

The worst connected locales in the UK have been revealed, along with the government’s latest plan to resolve the issue.

Anything connected to the internet — from smartphones to power plant controllers — can be manipulated. — Photo: © DJC
Anything connected to the internet — from smartphones to power plant controllers — can be manipulated. — Photo: © DJC

Despite the advances with fibre optic cables and the roll-out of so-called superfast broadband, many rural areas suffer with poor Internet activity. This is a multi-country problem and the issue affects the U.K., as an example. In the U.K. the aim is for gigabit-capable broadband, made available to all. This means download speeds of at least 1 gigabit-per-second. As things stand, this remains a little way from realisation.

In the U.K., the most poorly served areas for an Internet connection are:

  • Tees Valley and Durham are the least Internet-connected regions.
  • Lincolnshire and Merseyside come in second and third respectively.
  • Southern Scotland and Cornwall also make the list.

The findings have bene put together by Convertr.org based on regional data compiled by the U.K. Office for National Statistics (ONS).

With the area with the weakest connectivity, Tees Valley and Durham sees only 87 percent of residents using the Internet in the last three months. This is nearly ten percentage points lower than areas like Surrey, South London, and Berkshire.

In early 2021, it was announced by the government that 40,000 homes in the Tees Valley would receive upgraded speeds – up to a gigabit connection for some. This was to be realised through the government’s £5 billion ‘Project Gigabit’ scheme. It remains to be seen if this will deliver.

Lincolnshire comes in second, with only 87.6 percent of residents using the Internet in the last three months. Lincolnshire’s statistics sits at nearly three percentage points lower than other East Midlands regions like Derbyshire and Leicestershire, and almost five percentage points lower than the UK average of 92 percent.

Merseyside is in a very close third place, with 87.7 percent of residents using the Internet in the last three months. Liverpool was the area in the region which was the least connected, with only 84 percent of Liverpool residents regularly using the Internet.

The areas most greatly impacted are:

RegionPercentage of people who used Internet in last 3 months
Tees Valley and Durham87
Lincolnshire87.6
Merseyside87.7
Southern Scotland88.7
Shropshire and Staffordshire89
West Wales and The Valleys89.1
Highlands and Islands89.5
East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire89.5
Northumberland and Tyne and Wear89.9
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly90

Such tables demonstrate why the government needs to accelerate the provision of digital services. Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson from Convertr.org explained to Digital Journal: “With the majority of all regions browsing the web daily, certain people still go months without using it, and it’s clear there is a stark contrast in the quality of broadband in the UK. The government spending billions on superfast speeds shows that there is an incentive to connect the UK through the Internet, and it will be interesting to see how these statistics change throughout the 2020s.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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