This week Ofcom released the data sitting behind their recent broadband study. The dataset contains over 1.5m postcodes from across Britain, summarizing the local broadband experience.
The file is far too big to play win in Excel but when loaded into a spatial database it becomes a fantastic resource that will take some time to properly exploit. Given last year’s data was in a similar format it means we may soon be able to build up a picture of the evolution of broadband over time as well, empirically showing the advances that the UK is making.
With the data loaded, I wanted to have a quick look to see what it might show. The map below is a snapshot of West Oxfordshire, the focus of the Cotswolds Broadband project I’m helping.
The goal of the project is to turn West Oxfordshire into the first district with universal superfast broadband by filling in the areas between BT’s, Virgin’s and Gigaclear’s networks, and what the map shows is the distribution of the mean download speeds.
Its important to understand what this map is saying.
What it doesn’t say that broadband in West Oxfordshire is exceptionally poor; just like any rural district there are pockets of very poor and non-existent broadband but most have access to something and some access to very good broadband.
Instead what its highlighting is that the gap between the best and worst is now very wide.
Those people in the brightest green areas typically average more than 30 Mbps with 10% of postcodes across the district containing premises receiving more than 100 Mbps, with 150 Mbps far from unique.
In contrast, a third of postcodes average less than 10 Mbps, the speed increasingly considered the minimum to be properly functional on the Internet today, while 90% of postcodes contain at least one premise with speeds of less than 10 Mbps.
About 10% of postcodes in West Oxfordshire have neighbours where the gap between the best and worst broadband is more than 100Mbps.
This is a problem fully recognised in West Oxfordshire; that some people may consider an upgrade to 5 or even 10Mbps to be sufficient for their needs, but such an increase wouldn’t amount to keeping pace with the majority in society.
When all the planned broadband investments are complete, the map above should be universally green with postcode averaging less than 24 Mbps.