No-one involved in the broadband sector is in any doubt that bringing superfast speeds to 90 per cent of the population and 2Mbit/s to all by 2015 will be tough, but an interactive map from Ofcom really hammers the point home.
The map shows the broadband take up, average speed and penetration of superfast services to all counties in the UK, colour coded to show five levels of access, and highlights just how much of the nation is underserved by quality internet access.
Almost all the outer reaches of the UK, particularly in Scotland and Wales, have little or no superfast coverage, and a high proportion of residents are on speeds under 2Mbit/s, which is next-to-useless for most internet services such as the BBC iPlayer.
The Highlands have 17.2 per cent of residents on speeds below 2Mbit/s and no superfast broadband connections, while Powys, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Flintshire all have over 20 per cent of the population on below 2Mbit/s.
Overall, 14 per cent of all consumers with fixed connections (excluding superfast broadband) receive speeds below 2Mbit/s, although six per cent could upgrade to faster services.
For the majority, however, speeds are better, and 68 per cent of premises enjoy average speeds of 7.5Mbit/s, which also doesn't count superfast speeds.
Residents in Luton are the best placed to receive superfast services, where all exchanges are able to deliver up to 100Mbit/s from the likes of BT and Virgin Media.
Brighton and Hove has the highest take-up of fixed broadband services at 80 per cent, and Edinburgh has the fastest average speeds at 10.1Mbit/s, followed by Bristol on 9.9Mbit/s.
The map shows far more clearly than a list of figures that the UK is struggling to get itself hooked up to superfast internet. The geography of the regions which have been cut off is also telling; they are mostly remote, mountainous or coastal locations that ISPs struggle to serve.
Nevertheless, the government has at least made closing this gap a top priority, promising £830m to help private sector firms work in remote areas.
BT has also received funding from Europe to give all Cornish residents superfast broadband by 2014 and is looking at 4G technology to provide superfast services as well. Virgin Media is also looking at using telegraph poles to deliver broadband.
Ofcom map: Red areas are worst served with broadband, followed by purple, gold, light blue and green.
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