UK leads Europe on superfast broadband, but uptake still low

The UK leads Europe superfast broadband, according to new figures, but experts argue not enough of us know about our speedy options.

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Great Britain leads Europe on the number of people enjoying superfast broadband, according to new figures, but experts argue not enough of us know about our speedy options.

Nearly three quarters of the UK population now has access to a superfast Internet connection equal to or greater than 30Mbps, seeing Britain leapfrog into first place when both coverage and take-up are compared with France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. That's the good news.

The not-so-good news: UK telecoms regulator Ofcom's latest European Broadband Scorecard reveals that as superfast broadband spreads across the country, just 9 in every 100 people in Britain have opted to take advantage of faster speeds. With 4.8m people enjoying faster speeds it's the highest take-up of superfast broadband in Europe -- followed by Spain where 6 out of 100 people enjoy el broadband rápido -- but it's still not a huge number compared to the number of people in Britain who are online.

'Worrying lack of awareness'

"There seems to be a worrying lack of awareness concerning superfast broadband," says telecoms expert Ernest Doku of uSwitch.com. "Our own research showed that only a quarter of consumers were aware they could receive it in their area. Price also looks to remain a major barrier, with almost half of those consulted who didn't have super-fast broadband citing it as being too costly."

"We need to burst the price illusion bubble surrounding fibre," concurs expert Dominic Baliszewski of broadbandchoices.co.uk. "Prices have come down considerably in the last 18 months and superfast does not mean super-expensive anymore.

"Momentum needs to be maintained if the UK is to become a truly digital nation, which means neglected rural communities and notspots must be connected to this vital part of UK infrastructure. Broadband has become a utility in its own right... If gas, electricity and water supplies to rural areas were weak or non-existent simply due to distance issues there would be a national outcry."

Internet-savvy

Despite those notspots, when it comes to broadband of all speeds, Britain has the highest number of households enjoying going online (83 per cent) and the highest proportion of people shopping online over a year (77 per cent). Just 8 percent of people in Britain have never used the Internet, making Britons the most widely Internet-savvy folk in Europe.

'Er Majesty's government has committed to having the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, including the fastest broadband of any major European country. However, Ofcom hasn't worked out how to accurately and fairly compare national fixed-line and mobile download and upload speeds, so has left speed out of the equation.

 

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