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Virgin Offers Home Broadband Speeds of 152 Mbps But Rural Britain Languishes in Slow Lane

03/03/2014 16:04 GMT | Updated 30/04/2014 10:59 BST

Today, Virgin Media announced entry-level broadband speeds of 50 Mbps for all its customers, and top speeds of 152 Mbps. Given that the average UK speed is 14.7Mbps it's easy to see why that's made the headlines.

 

At Virgin's top speed of 152Mbps it would take just four minutes to download an HD-quality film - or 11 minutes if you're downloading at Virgin's new entry-level speed of 50 Mbps. It would take considerably longer - 37 minutes - to download the same film at the UK average speed of 14.7Mbps.

No longer is a home PC the sole portal to the internet in British households. A typical home now has multiple devices accessing the web at any one time - as tablets, smartphones, laptops and games consoles make families all the more hungry for faster speeds and more generous download limits. 

British households increasingly crave broadband connections that can cope with their huge demand for the web at peak times of day, when everyone's at home and trying to stream their favourite TV shows, download films for the next day's commute, surf the internet for homework, or Skype friends and family.

However, Virgin's fibre-optic network only reaches around half of UK homes. And, while some consumers will be enjoying three-figure speeds, there are remote rural areas of the UK still stuck in the broadband slow lane.

As home connections get faster, the great broadband divide is getting wider. More than ever, the government needs to focus on bringing the slowest areas for broadband in Britain up to speed.

The days of dial up might be over, but sluggish speeds and patchy connections are still a reality for plenty of Brits.

 

This week, the government announced how £250 million set aside to improve broadband in local areas will be divvied up across Britain. Although this is a step in the right direction there are some concerns about the way in which local councils have dished out broadband funds so far. 

 

Local councils are being given their portion of the fund and left to deal with it as they see fit. This means they are being left in charge of the entire process for their area without any guidance or checks about how the money is being spent.

 

However, there's no doubt that £250m will provide a huge boost. Improving broadband infrastructure will help rural businesses and allow more people to work from home. The Government reckons it'll also create an additional 56,000 jobs by 2024.  

 

The predicted stats are hugely impressive, which is why this cash injection needs to be put to immediate use. 

Making broadband speeds in major cities faster should not be the only priority - it should as important as hauling remote, digitally isolated areas in line with the rest of the country.