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UK’s worst areas for Internet connection revealed

Scotland is poorly served for broadband speeds, making it the poor relation in the UK.

A man shopping online. Image by © Tim Sandle
A man shopping online. Image by © Tim Sandle

Internet access is widely regarded as a basic human right, yet even in one of the world’s richest countries there are pockets of poor service. Take the case of the U.K., placed as the world’s fifth wealthiest nation, there are areas that are poorly served in terms of Internet connection.

A new study finds that the Orkney Islands has the worst Internet connection in Scotland and throughout  the U.K., with the lowest access to decent broadband and slowest download speeds. Overall, Scotland suffers the most. Of the U.K.’s top ten areas for poor Internet connection, half are in Scotland. In relation to this geographical problem, the Shetland Islands, Argyll and Bute and Na H’Eilenan Siar also have some of the worst internet access in the U.K.

In terms of data, the Orkney Islands has the lowest percentage of premises connected to Superfast Broadband (64.3 percent compared to the UK average of 94 percent) and has just 1 percent of households with Ultrafast Broadband (compared to the UK average of 59 percent).

Furthermore, residents of Orkney Islands also face the slowest download speeds in the UK, at just 34.8 megabits per second, in the context of the U.K. standard being 58.2 megabits per second.

The research was performed by digital literacy firm, who analysed new Ofcom data on download speeds and access to Superfast and Ultrafast broadband in the UK’s 376 local authorities, and created an index to discover which areas had the worst Internet connection of all.

The outcome of the index is, in terms of areas with the worst Internet connection:

AreaRankMedian download speed (Mbit/s)SFBB availability (%)UFBB availability (%)Overall index score
ORKNEY ISLANDS137.464.31.18.8
ARGYLL AND BUTE342.778.11.810.3
NA H-EILEANAN SIAR444.875.74.510.6
MID DEVON743.578.210.911.2
NORTH NORFOLK1046.590.66.311.6

At the other end of the scale, Kingston Upon Hull boasts the best Internet connection in the U.K., with the best combined download speed (171.4 megabits per minute), and wide-ranging Superfast and Ultrafast broadband coverage.

The place with the second-best internet access in the U.K. oddly falls in Scotland, given the general low rating across the country. This is West Dunbartonshire, which boasts a download speed of 127.4 megabits a minute, and 89.6 percent of its households have access to Ultrafast broadband.

These data points provide gives an insight into the extent of the digital divide is across the U.K., and what should be the focal points for government action.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, 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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