News & Insight

British broadband: a Eurovision-style shambles

Max White

Global broadband rankings reveal that Britain is lagging behind most of Europe

Like our chances of winning the Eurovision Song Contest or a major football tournament, UK broadband speeds are officially worse than most of Europe’s.

That's according to the newly published global rankings on average broadband speeds by Cable.co.uk. Singapore tops the leader board, whilst European countries like Germany, Spain and Sweden all rank higher than the UK.

Global average broadband speeds: the top 10

The global league table measured broadband speeds in 189 countries.

World ranking

Country

Average
download
speed

#1

Singapore

50.0Mbps

#2

Sweden

40.0Mbps

#3

Taiwan

34.4Mbps

#4

Denmark

33.5Mbps

#5

Netherlands

33.5Mbps

#6

Latvia

30.3Mbps

#7

Norway

29.0Mbps

#8

Belgium

27.3Mbps

#9

Hong Kong

27.0Mbps

#10

Switzerland

26.9Mbps

#31

United Kingdom

16.5Mbps

To put this into perspective, a 16.5Mbps download speed in the UK means an hour’s wait to download a Lord of the Rings film or an entire TV box set. Someone in Singapore, by comparison, would be able to download the same film in 18 minutes.

What’s going on?

Is it acceptable that the UK lags behind 19 European countries, 17 of them in the European Union? Not really, no. Certainly not for Britons in rural areas who can barely browse the internet, let alone stream or download from it.

Ofcom’s 2017 Communications Market Report states that things are getting better. Apparently, by June 2016, 44% of all fixed broadband connections were able to receive actual download speeds of 30Mbps or more, up from 38% a year previously.

That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Not until you take another look at the league table.

Latvia: connectivity Britain can only dream of

Ofcom says that ‘44% of the UK receiving 30Mpbs of download speeds’ is something we should celebrate. If everyone in the UK had 30Mpbs download speeds, we'd be in a good place.

Well, the Republic of Latvia's average download speed is 30Mpbs. They're already there. But when you compare Latvia as a country with the UK, you start to see how little sense this all makes:

Republic
of Latvia

United
Kingdom

Population

1,965,686

64,430,428

Population
growth rate

-1.07%

0.53%

Urban population

67.4%

82.6%

GDP

$50.65 billion

$2.788 trillion

Number of
internet users

1.573 million

58.961 million

Average
broadband speed
world ranking

6th

31st

Latvia isn't the only surprise European country/state streets ahead on broadband. Lithuania (#11), Estonia (#13), Jersey (#14) and Slovenia (#25) all ranked higher than the UK.

Check your speed

To find out how the speed you receive compares with the UK average, make use of our broadband speed checker.