Milton Keynes has slowest mobile broadband in UK

Milton Keynes has the slowest 3G mobile broadband speeds in the UK, according to research conducted by mobile and broadband comparison website, Top10.com.

Businesses, locals and visitors to the Buckinghamshire town, which is less than an hour outside of London, have to endure an average 3G mobile broadband speed of just 1.73 megabits per second (Mbps), which is around 45% slower than the average speeds in Britain’s 3G hotspot towns and cities.

At this speed it would take up to 10 seconds to load a webpage on a smartphone, an hour to start watching a streamed movie and well over two minutes to download a popular app such as the game Angry Birds.

The 3G landscape is not much better for smartphone users in the Midlands city of Leicester and the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield. Both have large populations and both suffer from 3G mobile broadband speeds slower than the national average of 2.62Mbps. The average 3G mobile broadband speed in Leicester is 2.01Mbps and Huddersfield 2.17Mbps.

Stephen Rayment, CTO at BelAir Networks, commented: “It’s no surprise that mobile broadband speeds vary significantly across the UK. However, as mobile broadband connectivity comes at a premium, this report is likely to raise concerns among subscribers. The low download speeds in places such as Milton Keynes comes down to a lack of mobile data capacity. This is because macro-cellular networks deployed by operators in these areas simply aren’t able to cope with the demand for data.

“In macro-cellular networks, the wireless equipment is deployed on towers and rooftops and the focus in on delivering broad coverage rather than ample capacity. While the Government’s planned 4G auctions to make more licensed spectrum available will add some capacity, addressing the ongoing demand for mobile data will require operators to deploy picocell networks to augment the macrocells in high traffic areas.”

Rayment continued: “Interestingly, if you were to look at the use of Wi-Fi in places where speeds are low, you’d probably find that use of these networks in place of 3G is relatively high. As licensed spectrum is a finite resource, operators will also need to leverage unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum to augment their licensed band spectrum in order to ensure good capacity well into the future.”

Top10.com has analysed thousands of 3G speed tests carried out by smartphone users, via Top10’s innovative 3G mobile broadband speed test tool. The results reveal a significant variation in mobile broadband download speeds across the UK’s major towns and cities.

The evidence suggests that not only do smartphone users have to put up with frustratingly sporadic 3G signals that can drop off several times during any one day, but many are also living or working in towns and cities where 3G download speeds are at unacceptable levels.

From a national perspective, half of the ten slowest towns/cities for 3G mobile broadband speeds are in the north of England, with an average download speed of 2.21Mbps recorded in Liverpool and 2.35Mbps in Hull. Whilst Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city with a population in excess of one million and a thriving business community, sits at 10th in the list of slowest major UK towns/cities, with an average download speed of 2.43Mbps.

At the other end of the spectrum, smartphone users in Peterborough are lucky enough to have access to the UK’s fastest 3G mobile broadband speeds, with an average download speed of 3.86Mbps.

Alex Buttle, director, mobile and broadband comparison website Top10.com, comments: “There’s clearly quite a disparity when it comes to 3G connectivity across the UK. Despite the Government and mobile operators tirelessly working to increase the coverage and speed of the 3G service, there is evidently still a long way to go. Across large swathes of the UK, and worryingly in some of the country’s largest towns and cities, such as Birmingham and Liverpool, 3G broadband speeds are simply not up to scratch.

“Ofcom recently unveiled its plans for 4G, the next generation mobile communications technology, with the telecoms regulator announcing that an auction would take place for the right to provide high-speed services to consumers and businesses. Judging by the results of our mobile broadband tests carried out by smartphone users, the networks should probably be trying to ensure their 3G house is in order before they start promoting 4G services.

“Advancements in mobile communications technology will be crucial if Britain hopes to remain a economic force on the world stage and compete in the global marketplace. More and more businesses are reliant on mobile broadband, but without adequate investment in the telecoms infrastructure, aspirations of mobile broadband speeds 16 to 20 times faster than are currently achieved will be just pipe dreams.”