Which is the best connected city in the UK?

By Ellen Daniel

With the rise of remote working, plus an ever-increasing number of IoT devices, both businesses and individuals expect constant internet access. But where in the UK can the best digital connectivity be found?

New data from PowWowNow reveals the best connected city in the UK, leading digital connectivity for mobile data coverage, internet speed and full fibre availability.

According to the BBC, the UK government has promised that homes and businesses will have a legal right to demand faster broadband speeds by 2020, but many parts of the UK have a way to go.

The research reveals the top 20 UK cities, with London crowned as the best connected city. As a hub for both finance and tech, the capital came up on top on the digital connection index, which weighed up internet speed, fibre optic broadband coverage, and mobile data availability. Bristol came second on the list, and Cardiff third.

However, the north offers the most reliable 4G connectivity, reaching 90% of homes. Bristol is the only southern city outside of the capital to offer connectivity at more than 90% of premises, whereas several cities in the north, namely Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool all offer this.

In the midlands, Coventry, Nottingham, Birmingham, and Leicester all featured in the top ten.

At the other end of the spectrum, Cornwall is the UK’s most unconnected county with 40% of residents unable to receive 4G coverage indoors. Yet despite this, the county ranks first on the list for full fibre availability in the UK.

Leading the way in London

Looking more closely at London, Southwark is the best connected borough, whereas Bromley is the least connected. Surprisingly, the City of London and Westminster are among the worst in terms of connectivity despite being key locations for business. However, the centre of the city is best for 4G connectivity offering 99% coverage.

The fasted internet can be found further afield to Richmond upon Thames, which has a connection speed score of 9.9. Notably, the business districts of Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Westminster and City of London have the worst internet speeds across the capital.

The UK as a whole is lagging behind many other countries when it comes to internet speed, coming in at 35th in the global ranking of internet speeds, and in the bottom third for EU countries.

Jason Downes, MD of PowWowNow, believes that cities not offering fast and reliable connectivity risk falling behind in terms of attracting business:

“For the quickest internet in London head over to Richmond upon Thames, which has an impressive connection speed score of 9.9. Notably the business districts of Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Westminster and City of London all register the worst internet speeds across the entire capital, each with an index score below 7. Similarly, the boroughs of Westminster and the City of London all offer 100% 4G coverage but rank as the two poorest areas in the country for internet speed.

“Businesses across the UK are becoming increasingly reliant on remaining connected, with great internet connectivity being the driver of productivity. The cities falling behind on internet connectivity risk jeopardising their attraction for businesses looking to remain competitive in our digitally reliant society. With the growth of remote working rising too, it’s essential cities across the UK are aware of the digital gaps they present when trying to attract the UK’s savviest digital professionals.”

Read more: Siemens names London most digitally ready city, despite Brexit