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11 March 2015, 07:44
Households are facing a postcode lottery when it comes to getting the fastest broadband speeds, new research shows.
A survey of the UK's average connections has found Norfolk is the worst performing county.
In a list of the 30 streets with the slowests speeds, four from the county are mentioned - Shorthorn Road in Stratton Strawless, Marlingford Road in Easton, Stubb Road in Hickling and North Lopham Road in Kenninghall.
Looking at the very quickest average connections the survery showed the north of England enjoying twice as many speedy streets as the south.
According to uSwitch.com, which collected the data over six months, the fastest average connection can be found in Sandy Lane in Cannock, Staffordshire.
That compares with the UK's slowest speeds, suffered by residents of Williamson Road in Romney Marsh, near Folkestone, Kent, where a home-owner could fly to the Bahamas and back in the time it takes to download an HD movie.
London has three streets among the fastest in the UK but Uxbridge Road in Feltham is a broadband blackspot, where average speeds were recorded at just 1.03Mbps - well below the national average.
The data, sourced from a million speed tests done by broadband users, showed wide variations even within the same areas.
While Staffordshire boasts three of the top 30 fastest streets in the country, it also boasts two of the slowest in Stoke-onTrent, and Burton-upon-Trent.
In further evidence of the post code lottery, the average download speed for residents in Cheadle Road in Alton, Staffordshire, was 54 times slower than Werrington Road in Bucknall, Stoke, which is just 12 miles away.
Data showed the well-served residents of Sandy Lane enjoyed speeds of 72.86Mbps, allowing a two-hour HD movie to download in just eight minutes, and a 20-song album to drop in a mere 22 seconds.
But this compared with broadband users of Williamson Road, in the south, which uSwitch.com found to be 135 times slower at a paltry 0.54Mbps - and 42 times slower than the national average of 22.8Mbps.
A feature-length HD movie download there would take 19 hours to arrive, with an album taking almost an hour.
Generally, a third (34%) of the UK struggles with sub-5Mbps speeds, while just under a quarter (23%) make do with less than 3Mbps.
Meanwhile an emerging north-south divide was uncovered by comparing the top 30 quickest and slowest streets nationally.
For example, Scotland has six of the UK's fastest streets.
However, the number of households enjoying superfast speeds is growing.
More than a fifth (22%) of broadband users are now getting average speeds of 30Mbps or more, up 15% from last year.
The roll-out of superfast broadband, with older copper cable replaced by fibre-optic lines, has seen average speeds increase as it eliminates one of the key culprits of slow connections, which is the distance from homes to the exchanges.
However, despite the availability of quicker broadband in almost four fifths of the UK, public awareness remains low with less than a third of people believing they can access the service, according to the survey.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, said increasing public awareness of what was on offer could help tackle broadband speed deficits, while also calling for the "urgent'' roll-out of superfast services to every corner of the UK.
"On the UK's slowest street broadband speeds are so sluggish you could fly to the Bahamas and back again in the time it takes to download a film,'' he said.
"Likely causes include the user's distance from the nearest exchange or issues within the properties themselves.
"Wireless connections can be affected by the thickness of walls, for example, but your broadband provider can usually offer a solution if that's the case.
He added: "Superfast broadband is now available to more than three quarters of the UK, but nearly a third don't realise they can get it.
"We looked at which of the 30 slowest streets had superfast availability and, interestingly, 37% of them do, but residents have obviously chosen not to take up superfast services.
Mr Taylor-Gibson said: ``More needs to be done to increase awareness of fibre availability and its benefits. Superfast broadband isn't as expensive as some users might think, with prices averaging an extra £9 a month on top of standard broadband costs.
"A recent House of Lords report called for broadband to be defined as a public utility and voiced concerns about the delivery of superfast services.
"Terrible speeds can isolate people and take their toll on businesses, schools, even house prices.
"A nationwide roll-out of fibre broadband to the furthest and most remote corners of the UK has never been more urgent.''
A Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesman said: "The Government's roll-out of superfast broadband is one of the fastest in the world, and we're on track to reach 95% of the UK by 2017.
"Eighty per cent of the UK can already access superfast speeds, and every day our roll-out reaches another 5,000 homes and businesses.''
The DCMS, which has put #1.7 billion into the programme, is running a public awareness campaign telling people about availability of high speed internet connections in their area because take-up in the enabled areas is at less than a third.
Last month, Ofcom said the UK had enjoyed the biggest jump in average broadband speeds on record.
The report, based on data from the major internet service providers, said the average speed across the country was 22.8 Mbps in November, up from 18.7 Mbps last May.