Rural broadband slower and more expensive than in cities


According to a new study, rural households not only pay more for broadband compared to those in urban locations, they are also more likely to receive slower connection speeds. 

Research from Broadband Savvy, carried out by One Poll, reveals that those living in rural areas receive speeds that are on average 28% slower and up to 76% more expensive than in urban locations. In towns and city fringes, broadband costs 22% more on average than it does in urban centres.

And while people living in urban areas receive speeds that are 3% slower than advertised, that figure is 19% in suburban neighbourhoods. 

By region, the North East, Northern Ireland, and Scotland have the UK’s most expensive broadband, paying £0.58, £0.51, and £0.46 respectively per megabit of download speed received. By contrast, London, Wales, and the South East have the cheapest broadband, at £0.23, £0.28, and £0.35 respectively.

Says Tom Paton, founder of Broadband Savvy:

“We expected rural broadband to cost more than in other parts of the UK, but not by this much.

“It’s not just that the quoted prices are higher in rural areas – we also found that ISPs often deliver slower speeds than those they promise consumers who live in the countryside. This reflects decades of infrastructure failings – the ancient copper cabling that many rural households rely on simply isn’t capable of providing a quality, consistent broadband connection.”

He adds:

“The average broadband speed of those surveyed in London is 2.5 times higher than in the North East, but costs half as much on a per-megabit basis. We desperately need the government to accelerate rural broadband infrastructure investments, to bridge the digital divide.”

“The problem is that while gigabit fibre is being rolled out in urban areas that already get superfast speeds, much of rural Britain still relies on sluggish ADSL broadband.”

The study also compared the performance of different technologies that the UK uses to get online at home. Interestingly, across all geographies, those using a 4G or 5G router received speeds 61% faster on average than those using fixed-line connections.

In urban areas, 17% of people use this technology to take advantage of the faster speeds available. However, only 7% of rural households do the same, due to a lack of mobile broadband coverage. 

The research was conducted in April 2021 among 2000 UK adults solely or jointly responsible for purchasing their home broadband. For more information, visit:


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Chris Price
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