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The UK’s Least Connected City Is…

Coventry, Leicester, Southampton make the Top 10. At rock bottom is...

By CBR Staff Writer

We won’t tease.

It’s Exeter.

That’s according to a new report from GoCompare today.

The company sampled the connectivity of 57 “business hubs” (known to most of us as “towns”) across the UK, taking into account an array of digital infrastructure such as wifi availability, broadband speed and mobile/4G coverage.

The results were collated into an interactive visualisation where you can see the overall ranking or sort cities by the three connectivity criteria. The cathedral city in Devon faired worst, nabbing the nadir from Carlisle and Hereford. .

London: Best connected

The 10 Best-Connected Cities

Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest cities in the UK are also the most connected.

However, there are some surprises in the top 10.

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Here they are (columns show rank, city, 4G coverage, average download speed and number of people per public hotspot).

1 London 60.92% 31.70Mbps 698
2 Manchester 60.92% 30.44Mbps 395
3 Nottingham 60.92% 31.24Mbps 904
4 Salford 59.54% 33.02Mbps 1,560
5 Birmingham 60.77% 30.82Mbps 650
6 Glasgow 60.92% 31.02Mbps 756
7 Southampton 38.08% 32.86Mbps 1,179
8 Leicester 60.92% 30.62Mbps 1,285
9 Coventry 60.92% 30.90Mbps 1,406
10 Brighton and Hove 44.69% 33.90Mbps 1,446

Exeter: good for cathedrals; bad for broadband

The Worst-Connected Cities

The worst-connected UK cities are spread across the South of England, Midlands and Wales. Where these cities fail in mobile and broadband connectivity, some make up for it by offering a higher number of public wifi hotspots per person.

The full breakdown of the bottom 10 is:

48 Ripon 13.15% 27.58Mbps 1,856
49 Gloucester 11.31% 29.30Mbps 1,205
50 Swansea 24.31% 31.14Mbps 2,043
51 Salisbury 3.00% 28.72Mbps 746
52 Lincoln 6.38% 27.48Mbps 624
53 Wells 0.62% 26.08Mbps 1,171
54 Norwich 5.62% 27.16Mbps 908
55 Hereford 0.00% 25.14Mbps 1,732
56 Carlisle 6.00% 25.92Mbps 2,068
57 Exeter 6.31% 26.84Mbps 1,166


The government is pushing for ambitious full fibre plans across the country, but network providers face significant capex constraints and progress – like that of 5G – has been slow, with many areas facing large signal dead zones.

In April the UK government turned to an unlikely source of help – the Church of England – inking a three-page agreement that will see church spires used to host aerials and other equipment that can improve connectivity.

Whether that can help the country climb back up the rankings for mobile connectivity remains an open question. A report by network performance monitor OpenSignal  last month found that the UK’s 4G availability (77.2 percent) lags that of Macedonia, India, Thailand and average speed (23.11Mbps) lags that of Ecuador, Albania and Armenia.

The firm’s international survey placed the UK in 39th spot internationally, four behind the mountainous Transcaucasian Republic. With an average 4G speed of 23.11Mbps, the UK also found itself two places behind Mexico.

Martyn John, from GoCompare, commented: As a technologically advanced nation, the UK could be expected to provide its population with equal access to high-quality internet. However, this study goes to show that more needs to be invested in some cities to offer their inhabitants the same online opportunities that people in London or Manchester receive.”


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