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Third of Blighty stuck on snail-speed broadband

UK.gov's uphill battle to get us superfast by 2015 revealed

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The UK government will have a tough time fulfilling its superfast broadband promises for the country with a third of British postcodes still stuck at sloth-like speeds.

The country's average download speed is 6.742Mbit/s, but a third of houses are below 5Mbit/s, a quarter have less than 4Mbit/s and one in ten are crawling along at a pace of less than 3Mbit/s, comparison site uSwitch said.

The slowest place in Britain is the village of Winchelsea in East Sussex, whose inhabitants get an average speed of just 1.11Mbps - but it wasn't just rural areas and small towns that find surfing the net a frustrating nightmare.

There are also towns and cities with populations over 40,000 that are left staring at the progress bar on their screen for far too long.

Lancaster, with more than 133,000 folk, are stuck at 5.479Mbit/s, while at least 55,000 people in Hereford download at just 3.196Mbit/s, according to uSwitch's data, which is based on 1.68 million speed tests in the last six months.

The government has been promising to make the UK a superfast broadband nation by 2015 and has high hopes of being the fastest in Europe by that time. Part of these pledges is that every address in the country will be enjoying download speeds of at least 2Mbit/s, although the minimum data velocity that's generally considered superfast is ten times that.

"These figures bring into sharp focus the challenge the government faces if it is to fulfil the pledge made back in December 2010 that everyone in the UK would have access to superfast broadband by 2015," uSwitch said.

"More than 12 months down the line and that target appears to be a long way off, with large swathes of Britain still having to make do with broadband speeds that are more snail’s pace than super-fast."

Communications watchdog Ofcom said earlier this month that broadband speeds in the country were on the up, and uSwitch agreed with this, but said that many of the high-speed packages were not available in certain areas or were too expensive for everyone.

Virgin Media's superfast broadband with speeds of up to 100Mbit/s is now available to ten million homes in the UK, while BT pledged earlier in the month that it will offer “ultra-fast” broadband speeds of up 300Mb/s by spring 2013.

"[But] too many people do not appear to be enjoying superfast speeds because faster services are not available in their area yet," Julia Stent, director of telecoms at uSwitch, said.

"It’s also likely that many aren’t aware of what services and packages they can get or simply can’t get it because the prices are out of reach." ®

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