According to a study from connection comparison website Uswitch, the gap between London’s haves and have nots in the world of internet speed is profound. Ranging from modern high-quality standards to speeds that would have frustrated a decade ago, this disparity raises questions about the digital divide, and its implications on work and home life.
As taken from the testing methodology, the results from this test weren’t based entirely on infrastructure, instead, they reflected the real-world speeds experienced by households within London. For this reason, the speed results were averaged out over an entire street. This means that the results don’t represent maximum theoretical capacity, rather they illustrate how involved each street is with various internet speeds. For reference, the top three fastest streets from this test include:
- Junction Road in Enfield: 143 Mbps
- Franche Court Road in Wandsworth: 118.7 Mbps
- Central Park Road, Newham: 107.1 Mbps
The slowest three streets in London include:
- Dufferin Street in Islington: 3.2 Mbps
- Roundwood Terrace in Haringey: 3.3 Mbps
- Rookstone Road in Upminster: 6 Mbps
What Accounts for the Difference?
As noted above, the disparity of London’s different speeds doesn’t necessarily tie into London’s high-speed internet infrastructure. While there are points still lacking, London, and the entire UK, offer speeds far higher than the lower speeds illustrated above. According to modern statistics, which can be seen here, over 95% of all UK premises have access to internet capable of at least 30 Mbps. These stats will likely be much higher in London than the rest of the UK, owing to its position as the UK’s most important city.
What’s more likely is that it’s the demographics of each street that more closely relate to internet speed. This isn’t as simple as the commonly accepted divides between the city’s quadrants either, as these streets seem to have little relationship to income levels.
Instead, speeds likely reflect the age of each street’s citizens, where the older the average person is, the less they are likely to rely on high-speed solutions. This is supported by research into general internet adoption rates, which shows senior citizens lagging behind their younger counterparts. Combine this with a different cultural level of reliance on the internet, and the extremes as listed above likely represent coincidental groupings of less demanding demographics. In other words, the faster streets are more likely to contain younger people who rely heavily on the internet, whereas the opposite will be true for the slower areas.
Will Low Speeds Suffer?
Ultimately, the ability of lower-speed streets to participate with the modern internet could be compromised, though not in all cases. Take, for example, the online casinos found in this link here. Despite being modern with a wide range of experiences, online casinos are not especially data-heavy. This means that everything from browsing comparison sites for data on bonuses and free spins to playing the games themselves will rarely result in slowing down.
On the other hand, slower speeds would mean that other popular uses like video streaming could suffer. Hulu, for example, requires a bare minimum of 3 Mbps for access, where multiple users streaming simultaneously or streaming high-quality video is essentially impossible. Really, it’s a matter of use-case.
Looking further into the 2020s, it’s unlikely that these low speeds will remain for long. When the older demographics are replaced by more tech-savvy usurpers, average speeds will eventually see a significant increase. As for how long it could be before the new standards of 5G and fibre become the status-quo, that much remains to be seen.