Working from home? Here are the best UK towns and cities for fast broadband
Over two-fifths (44%) of people in the UK now work remotely some or all of the week, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics. Where they live, however, has a big impact on their access to fast and reliable internet services – with many remote and hybrid workers still having to contend with the stress of poor connectivity at times.
A new analysis of Ofcom’s Connected Nations data, by HR software provider Ciphr, has revealed significant regional variations in the connectivity available across the UK. While Hull is the city to beat – by some margin – thanks to its average (median) download speeds of 185 megabits per second (Mbps) and significant 98.2% full-fibre broadband coverage, there are numerous locations with speeds well below the UK’s average of 65.3 Mbps.
Ciphr’s broadband index ranks 100 major UK towns and cities, with a combined working age population of around 22.9 million people, against five different metrics. For each location, Ciphr compared the percentage of residential homes with access to superfast, ultrafast and full fibre connections (capable of delivering speeds of over 30 Mbps, over 100 Mbps and up to a Gigabit respectively), as well as the area’s average (median) fixed download and upload speeds – which help ensure buffer-free virtual meetings and fast file-sharing.
The towns and cities ranked the highest in the index for all five criteria are Hull, Belfast, Coventry, Milton Keynes, and Peterborough, with residents in these areas enjoying some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK.
After Hull, Coventry and Portsmouth are two of the best cities for accessibility, with around 97% of homes having access to ultrafast broadband. Over 90% of residents in Coventry, Milton Keynes and Belfast can also get full fibre.
Workers in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Middlesbrough, Nottingham and Stockton-on-Tees benefit from typical median download speeds of 100 Mbps, although the mean average is actually over 140 Mbps for many in these areas.
Belfast and St Albans take second and third place, after Hull, for the fastest median upload speeds of 20 Mbps. Ofcom puts the UK average upload speed at around 15.5 Mbps, although 80% of the towns and cities in Ciphr’s study come in below this figure.
The bottom five towns and cities in Ciphr’s index are Chichester – where just a third (34.4%) of people working from home have access to ultrafast broadband of at least 100Mbps, and the top median download speed is 47.4 Mbps – followed by Winchester, Canterbury, Caerphilly, and Gateshead.
Based solely on Ciphr’s broadband index, the top 20 UK towns and cities for working from home are:
Sion Lewis, CEO of Ciphr, says: “With more people working from home than ever before, it’s vital for the nation’s infrastructure that people have access to fast and reliable internet services to enable them to do so. Organisations are increasingly reliant on ensuring that their people have the right digital skills and mindset to meet the challenges of the changing workplace, and that starts at home with access to decent broadband.
“What this research highlights, is that while there has been significant progress since the start of the pandemic three years ago, there are still workers in many areas that can’t even access speeds of 30 Mbps, which makes working from home more stressful – or sometimes impossible – due to bad connectivity. So, there is still a long way to go to eradicate digital exclusion and inequality in the UK.”
Ciphr ranked 100 of the UK’s largest towns and cities (in terms of total population size) across five metrics – the proportion of residential premises with access to superfast broadband, the proportion of residential premises with access to ultrafast broadband, the proportion of residential premises with access to full-fibre internet, median download speed (Mbps), and median upload speed (Mbps) – to determine the best and worst locations for hybrid and remote working, based on access to fast broadband.
The full results are available to view at: www.ciphr.com/revealed-the-best-uk-towns-and-cities-for-fast-broadband.
More than 600 organisations use Ciphr’s integrated HR and people management solutions to help manage, retain and engage staff more effectively – while reducing the admin burden on busy HR teams.
For more information about Ciphr’s people management solutions, please visit www.ciphr.com.
Emma-Louise Jones, digital PR manager at Ciphr
e: [email protected]
t: 01628 244206
Chris Boddice, interim chief marketing officer at Ciphr
e: [email protected]
Ofcom Connected Nations 2022: Fixed coverage local and unitary authority data – snapshot of data in September 2022, and Fixed performance local and unitary authority data – snapshot of data in May 2022 (published December 2022 and revised 8 February 2023): http://bit.ly/3ZZ0NEd
Characteristics of homeworkers, Great Britain: September 2022 to January 2023 (published 13 February 2023): http://bit.ly/3Julele
Ciphr is a specialist provider of SaaS HR, payroll, recruitment and learning software through its HCM platform, Ciphr Connect. Ciphr’s cloud-based solutions help busy HR teams to streamline their processes across the entire employee lifecycle and spend more time working strategically.
Ciphr Connect enables seamless integration, not only across Ciphr’s own solutions but also with an ecosystem of specialist, third-party tools using its modern API technology.
Ciphr is a privately held company, headquartered in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Over 200 employees work across the group, which includes Ciphr, Digits Industries and Payroll Business Solutions (PBS).
Ciphr spokespeople are available to provide expert media comment on a broad range of topics, including HR strategy, people management, employee experience and wellbeing, learning and development, the future of work, tech trends, business and leadership, marketing, and more.