Wi-Fi at airports has got worse, says study

Good luck checking Facebook before you get on a plane - a new study from Thinkbroadband has found that Wi-Fi in London airports is worse than it was last year.

The fastest Wi-Fi in town is at Stansted Airport, which boasts download speeds of 6.4Mb. In 2015, however, those speeds were much faster at 8.1Mb… which still isn't exactly superfast, but far more impressive than 2016's speeds.

The biggest drop in speed was found in Luton Airport: while 2015's recorded speed was 4.5Mb, these days it's a piddling 0.9Mb. That could be down to the fact that it extended its free Wi-Fi time from 90 minutes to four hours between Thinkbroadband's visits - more people are probably connected at any one time, hogging the bandwidth and dragging it down for everyone. Pesky flyers.

The only airport where reporters didn't see a drop in speed was Heathrow, which has kept at a steady (and snail-paced) 1Mb all year.

Slowest of all, however, is the Wi-Fi at Gatwick - 0.4Mb, down from 0.5 in 2015.

On the other hand, Heathrow and London City Airports both get points for not having a time limit on their free Wi-Fi. Once you're connected, you can stay online as long as you like.

Here are the speeds it recorded in London's airports, in September 2015 and November 2016:

Airport 2015 speed 2016 speed Time you can use it for
Stansted 8.1Mb 6.4Mb 1 hour
London City 4.5Mb 2.7Mb Unlimited
Heathrow 1.0Mb 1.0Mb Unlimited
Luton 4.5Mb 0.9Mb 4 hours
Gatwick 0.5Mb 0.4Mb 1 hour 30 min

Thinkbroadband emphasises that these are the speeds you'll find on the general, free Wi-Fi service offered by each airport. It doesn't include faster, more premium tiers of broadband that you can access by paying more, nor has it measured the speeds of Wi-Fi offered by shops and cafes in the airports.

Source: Thinkbroadband

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