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Millions penalised by broadband location lottery

5th July 2013 Print

Nearly three million UK households are forced to spend an extra £170m a year for broadband - simply because of where they live according to new research.
The in-depth study of over 1.7 million British postcodes (97% of UK households) by found that some broadband customers are condemned to pay more than twice as much as their neighbours living less than 50 yards away.
This postcode lottery means 13% of internet users are being penalised as they don't have the choice of cheaper deals due to their address - adding over £60 to annual broadband connection bills. Millions of broadband users are also suffering from reduced download speeds and limits.
The research reveals that whilst in some areas customers can choose from ten providers, others have just five options. This means that although some could pay as little as £2.99 per month for their broadband package, others are being forced to spend £8.15 or more.
The difference in availability doesn't only vary from county to county - some users in the same towns and even the same street can get better deals than their neighbours.
Those living on Bartons Place in Newmarket, Suffolk could find themselves paying over twice as much for their broadband than other houses less than 50 yards away - but getting just a third of the download speed that their neighbours receive.
Residents of Scarrowhill Road in Hornsby Gate, Cumbria, find themselves forced to pay an extra £5 per month as well as receiving inferior download speeds and having two fewer providers to pick from when compared with neighbours just half a mile away on the same street.
The survey revealed a divide in the number of providers available between those living in the North and South of the country. Those in the South have an average of 10 while those in the North of England have a pool of 11 to choose from.
Herefordshire was revealed as the county with the worst overall broadband choices, where users have the narrowest choice of providers at an average of eight, the slowest advertised download speeds of just 12.3Mbps and pay the second highest minimum costs in the country of £5.47, second only to Rutland who have to pay a minimum of £5.99 a month.
Greater Manchester topped the study with the lowest broadband costs at just £2.99 per month, average advertised download speeds of up to 28Mbps and an average choice of 12 providers.
Those in the South can take some solace in the fact they just nudge the North when it comes to average advertised download speeds with 22Mbps compared to 21Mbps.
The difference in download speeds between counties ranges from 8.5Mbps to 40Mbps, which means that in some homes it could take films fans  as little as 10 minutes (at 40Mbps) to download a 2-hour HD movie, whilst others will have to wait nearly an hour (48 minutes at 8.5Mbps) to do the same thing.
Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert from says, "Broadband has become an essential utility for people in the UK and it's madness that in 2013 people are being penalised simply due to where they live. The government has a responsibility along with providers to ensure a consistent standard of broadband service for every household in the UK. However with the recent announcement that the government will now roll out superfast services to 95% of homes by 2017, it seems the goalposts are being repeatedly pushed back.
"Most customers will not even be aware that they are at a digital disadvantage. These discrepancies in speed and price occur when different broadband providers install their technology in different exchanges located around the country.
"If your local exchange has been ‘enabled' by lot of different providers, you will have a great selection of broadband services to choose from. However, if you only have a handful of providers enabled at your local exchange, your choice will be extremely limited - this is a particular problem in locations with fewer households that are less commercially viable for broadband providers.
"Strong broadband competition is vital to ensuring that customers get the best possible service at the best possible price, but even if you live in an area with limited options you should still regularly shop around. Use an Ofcom-accredited comparison site to check if you are still on the best deal available in your postcode and switch providers if you find you could save money or get a better speed."