Which city has the best broadband? New study reveals the answer…

Not all cities are equal when it comes to broadband. That’s according to a new Ofcom report, which reveals the discrepancies between broadband coverage in built-up areas.

We often talk about the 'digital divide' - the marked difference in broadband speed and availability between urban and rural areas. But it's not just the countryside that suffers from inconsistent internet - many people in cities are similarly afflicted.

It's a point highlighted in new research from telecoms regulator Ofcom, which found the speed and availability of broadband varies wildly between different cities. For example, people in Cardiff and Inverness are twice as likely to get a download speed of 2Mb or lower than those in London and Birmingham.

In terms of fibre optic broadband availability, Derry-Londonderry came out on top of the 11 cities looked at, with 99% of the population having access to superfast internet. Glasgow came bottom, with only 57% of the population able to get fibre.

Ofcom looked particularly closely at broadband performance in six cities - Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester and London. It found that many of the areas with the slowest speeds and the worst access are also the poorest. In deprived areas, around 5.9% of the residents could only get 2Mb or less. However, in richer areas, this fell to just 2.2%. Manchester's got it worst, with 7.1% homes in the poorest areas unable to get more than 2Mb.

The results imply that providers are favouring more affluent areas where they have more chance of selling fibre packages. Ofcom concluded that lower incomes are preventing people from choosing packages with higher speeds, although that seems pretty obvious.

It's not all bad news though. It's reassuring to see that the vast majority of city dwellers can get superfast broadband, but it's depressing that availability is more limited in poorer areas, as the assumption that fibre's expensive is increasingly inaccurate.

Fierce competition between providers, combined with special deals, offers and what not, has forced down the price of fibre broadband to the point where some packages actually cost less than some standard broadband ones. What's more, even budget providers like Primus Saver now offer fibre packages, so while the cheapest option will always be standard broadband, superfast isn't exactly unaffordable.

Still, that's not much use if you can't get it, eh?

Live in a city? Can you get fibre? Let us know what in the comments.

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