Despite living in an age where you can pay for a baguette with your iPhone, some people in the UK remain in “broadband blackspots” where even watching a YouTube video might be a struggle.
While the average Internet speed in the UK is 17.8 Mbsp, many parts of the country suffer from speeds as slow as 4 Mbps to nothing at all.
For perspective, South Korea, which offers the fastest broadband in the world, has an average connection speed of 23.6 Mbps.
Choose, a website that covers broadband, phone, and TV connection services, says around 166,000 people in the UK are “stuck in rural broadband ‘not spots'” and reports a further 2 million in rural areas have “inadequate” connections.
(You can see how fast your broadband is here.)
The website also notes that in these “not spot” communities, broadband deals — whether through a phone line, 3G or 4G, or a satellite — are usually slower than their town and city counterparts. They are probably more expensive, too.
Communications regulator Ofcom says research shows that today many people believe the internet is as vital an amenity as water or heating. It’s certainly a must for businesses and infrastructure as a whole.
But if you live deep in the greener peaks of Wales, a far-reaching tip of Scotland, or even the Oxfordshire village of Sunningwell, only an hour’s drive from London, chances are you will struggle to catch up on your favourite TV show or be able to Skype your relatives in Australia.
And the gulf between urban and rural areas is vast: Urban folk enjoy an average connections speed of 31.9Mb while those in rural regions just 11.3Mb, Choose notes.
This could be changing, though, as this month the Financial Times reported a £1.7 billion ($US2.74 billion) government plan to bring superfast broadband to more of the UK countryside is well underway.
It says the Broadband UK (BDUK) move, led by service provider BT, will bring faster speeds to 95% of UK homes and businesses by 2017.
Until then, however, hundreds of thousands of Brits will have to make do with “standard” broadband, if any at all. Plus, there’s still the issue of the missing 5% who will remain underserved.