Broadband services slow and costly in rural areas
Broadband is twice as expensive in some rural areas despite offering lower speeds than in urban areas, research shows.
Figures from price comparison site simplifydigital.co.uk reveal that customers in the best served areas pay around £8 monthly broadband fees compared to the average £14-16 price customers pay in poor broadband spots, which tend to be in rural areas.
Charlie Ponsonby, head of simplifydigtal.co.uk, says customers in rural locations are getting stung twice by having to pay more money for slower broadband speeds.
He adds: "Our research starts to quantify what many of us already know, namely that the price of broadband varies depending on where you live."
"The variations are very significant, with those of us unlucky enough to live in the poorest served postcodes faced with bills over twice as high as those in the best served areas."
Creating a broadband postcode lottery, customers in Leicester pay the lowest on average for their broadband service, paying £8.40, while Cornwall residents have to cough up £16.26 on average.
The main cause of slow service in rural areas is lengthy copper telephone lines; as copper lines increase in length the speed of service decreases.
Conversely, customers in urban areas benefit from shorter distances and broadband providers installing their own equipment in telephone exchanges.
The findings come the same day that Ofcom publishes its interactive broadband map.
Using real data supplied by broadband providers, the map shows consumers the average speed for places across the UK.
Edinburgh has the fastest average maximum speeds, delivering 10.1 mbps, followed by Bristol’s average of 9.9mbps. This compares to the average UK minimum speed of 7 mega bits per second (mbps), excluding superfast connections.
Ofcom calculations show that 14% of customers with fixed broadband connections are currently receiving speeds below 2mbps.
Industry insiders welcome the map but argue Ofcom’s findings should be a call to the government to step up its broadband campaign for the country:
"The real question is whether by submitting this kind of information, politicians will really be encouraged to act to improve broadband services as there are clearly many areas that continue to get a raw deal," says Michael Phillips, product director at comparison website Broadbandchoices.co.uk.
He adds: "Ofcom’s map demonstrates that huge swathes of the country are receiving a below par broadband connection which is extremely disappointing given that the UK is supposed to be a leading light in business and technology services and the clock is ticking on the government’s commitment to digital Britain."
To view the map go to http://maps.ofcom.org.uk/broadband/