For most people, a reliable internet connection in their home is an essential service and requirement. But a continuous effort is needed by councils to ensure speed requirements are met in their respective areas. Broadband experts at Uswitch.com have discovered whether having more options for broadband providers available per region means better internet speeds for households.
The amount of available broadband providers per region varies widely. Most people will be aware of the big names such as BT, Sky, Virgin Media and Plusnet for example, but there are many smaller firms that many may not be aware of.
Greater London has the most choice for broadband with 72 internet providers, while the Western Isles only has five. Greater London also has significantly more internet suppliers than the next most populous regions for providers, which is Hampshire with 40, and then Surrey with 38.
Although Greater London has almost double that of Surrey, Surrey trumps Greater London in terms of average internet speed achieved, boasting a typical speed range of 46 – 206 Mbps.
All the regions with the most providers are within England. This is in stark contrast to regions with the lowest number of providers where only two of the bottom 10 are in England. Unfortunately, within the bottom 10, Scotland has six regions, and Wales has two.
Regions with the most broadband providers and their average internet speeds:
|Region||Country||Median broadband speed||Providers|
|Greater London||England||60.4 Mbps||72|
|West Sussex||England||47.25 Mbps||31|
Regions with the least broadband providers and their average internet speeds:
|Region||Country||Median broadband speed||Providers|
|Western Isles||Scotland||27.57 Mbps||5|
|Shetland Islands||Scotland||20.33 Mbps||6|
|West Dunbartonshire||Scotland||69.4 Mbps||8|
|Blaenau Gwent||Wales||35.18 Mbps||8|
|Torfaen County Borough||Wales||34.78 Mbps||8|
|North Ayrshire||Scotland||35.84 Mbps||9|
On average, the regions with the most providers have a faster average internet speed of 55.17 Mbps, in comparison to regions with the least providers at 38.65 Mbps.
However, this is not true for all regions. Kingston upon Hull takes the crown having the fastest average internet speed out of 183 regions. Its average speed of 93.49 Mbps cannot be due to its range of providers as the region only has ten. A similar result can be found for East Dunbartonshire and North East Lincolnshire who came second and third for speed results, but only have 11 providers each.
The difference with Kingston upon Hull is that it remains independent from BT, with the provider KCOM holding a monopoly. KCOM is a broadband and general telephony provider only available in Hull and surrounds. It also offers some of the fastest broadband in the UK, which is a relief to residents who cannot access the likes of Openreach or Virgin Media networks there.
Having more providers does seem to correlate with regions having achieved higher maximum download speeds however. Essex, with its 36 internet providers, has achieved the highest download speed of any region, with a whopping 6329.36 Mbps from Virgin Media. Greater London follows closely behind with a speed of 5794.21 Mbps from one of its 72 providers. The 10 regions with the most providers all fall within the top quarter for maximum download speeds achieved.
A particular anomaly within this is Luton, which only has 8 providers, and the slowest typical broadband speed range, but has the 9th highest maximum download speed.
The population of a region also correlates with how many providers are available in the area. Out of the ten most populous regions, six feature in the top ten for number of providers. For the regions with a million residents or more, they are receiving an average of 54.2Mbps compared to 38.2Mbps for regions with 100,000 residents or less.
Max Beckett, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, says: “Broadband is recognised as an essential service, so it can be frustrating when the area you live in has very few options.
“Some hard-to-reach areas have to rely on a limited number of broadband providers, which puts more pressure on that provider to offer good speeds and reliable performance – which is crucial to keep up with the current needs of most households.
“The latest Ofcom data shows over a third of households can now get full fibre connections, offering speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, so if you’re struggling with sluggish broadband, check to see whether there are faster packages you can move to.
“If you’re in an area with little or no choice for broadband, make sure you’re getting what you pay for. If you don’t think your router is performing as it should, run a speed test and speak to your provider about the service you are receiving.
“If you are regularly falling below the minimum guaranteed speed, you could be entitled to compensation and your provider should look to solve your slow connection.”
Max Beckett, broadband expert at Uswitch.com, offers tips on how to improve broadband performance.
- Reboot your router — the classic ‘unplug it, leave it 30 seconds and plug it back in’.
- Location, location, location — if your router is located further away than it needs to be, try moving it to the room you’re most active in or the centre of your home.
- Disconnect unnecessary devices — turn the Wi-Fi off on gadgets you’re not using, even if they’re in a drawer. They may be using bandwidth in the background.
- Run a speed test — this will determine whether your router is running at the speeds you signed up for.
- Purchase a Wi-Fi extender or ‘booster’ — this will optimise your broadband for faster and stronger connections.