News & Insight

Study links low internet usage with slow broadband speeds

Jack Stratten

The study examined the online habits of half of the British population

Researchers at King's College London have found very clear links between areas of the UK that receive slow broadband speeds, and areas that aren’t utilising online services.

The far-reaching study examined the online habits of half of the UK’s population, and specifically, how much people were using BBC iPlayer. It then also used data from Ofcom on broadband speeds, and found a positive correlation between low usage and slow speeds.

There is, therefore, a strong suggestion among the researchers that slow broadband speeds are preventing people in certain parts of the UK from doing what they want to online.

Clear evidence that supports long-held theories

Critics of BT’s stagnating attempts to roll out superfast fibre broadband across the UK have suggested that slow broadband is holding people back. But this research puts some evidence behind those suggestions.

In areas like the Isle of Wight, Midlothian and South Ayrshire, slow speeds and low usage were common. The researchers also pointed out that bandwidth-intensive applications like the BBC iPlayer will become ever-more essential, and not just for residential customers. Businesses too will see their daily functions move online, and the lack of a fast internet connection could be crippling.

BT recently stated its intention to not automatically roll out broadband to every part of the UK, deeming some rural areas non-essential. These rural areas will instead get broadband ‘on request’, and could face a four-year wait to get adequate broadband coverage.

This study adds fuel to the arguments of BT’s critics, many of whom view BT’s rural plans as short-sighted.