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UK sinks down speed league as yet another digital minister goes

dorries gov.uk_profile_pic.jpg

Broadband in the UK is slower than in 34 other countries, mainly in Europe, according to a new study out today.

Analyst company Cable.co.uk says that average speeds in the UK are roughly 73% of the western European average of 99Mbps.

The news comes on the day that Nadine Dorries (pictured), the Cabinet minister responsible for broadband as head of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), handed in her resignation to departing prime minister Boris Johnson.

Only days ago the old administration said about a broadband project in rural Dorset: “This represents a meteoric rise since Prime Minister Boris Johnson took office in 2019 when gigabit coverage stood at just 7%, demonstrating levelling up in action with a total of nearly 20 million premises connected since then and turbocharged progress by industry towards the government’s target of 85% coverage by 2025.”

It will be up to new prime minister Liz Truss, who was economics director at Cable & Wireless for five years from 2000, to appoint a new DCMS minister in the next few days. He or she will be the twelfth person to hold the job in the 12 years the Conservative party has been in power in the UK.

Cable.co.uk’s report sets out the challenge for Truss and her new DCMS minister by starkly showing the lowly position broadband connectivity is in the country.

Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said: “In all cases, those countries ranking highest are those with a strong focus on pure fibre (FTTP) networks, with those countries dawdling too much on FTTC and ADSL solutions slipping further down year-on-year.”

The company said its data are based on over 1.1 billion broadband speed tests conducted across 220 countries. “UK broadband speeds in 35th place globally, behind 34 other – predominantly European – countries,” said the company in its report, released this morning.

Last month Johnson scaled back a 2019 promise to bring gigabit broadband to “every home and business across the UK” by 2025, supported with £5 billion of funding, to only 85% of the country.

Western Europe dominates Cable.co.uk’s global speed table, containing seven of the top ten fastest countries in the world for broadband. The self-governing dependency of Jersey offers the fastest broadband in Europe – and second fastest in the world – with an average speed of 256Mbps. Fastest was special administrative region of Macau, with 262Mbps.

Macau, Taiwan (135Mbps) and Japan (122Mbps) are the only three locations to make it into the top ten fastest in the world outside of western Europe, says the report.

Countries in northern Africa collectively had the lowest average speed in the world, at 7.45Mbps, while western European nations collectively exhibited the highest average speed regionally, at 99Mbps.

The research data were gathered by M-Lab, an open source project with contributors from civil society organisations, educational institutions, and private sector companies.

M-Lab is led by teams based at Code for Science and Society, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Google, Princeton University’s PlanetLab, and other supporting partners.

The report shows that 30 of the top 50 fastest-performing countries are in Europe. By contrast, 29 of the 50 slowest-performing countries are in sub-Saharan or northern Africa.

M-Lab/Cable.co.uk found that 67 countries failed to achieve average speeds of 10Mbps or greater, the speed deemed by UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom to be the minimum required to cope with the needs of a typical family or small business.