Browse By

More Than Slow Loading: The Real Cost of The North West’s Poor Broadband

Internet speed can make or break local quality of life. With Leyland and Blackburn surging ahead, Burnley and Southport are left in the digital slow lane. From job opportunities to education, slow broadband isn’t just an inconvenience; it’s a barrier to essential services.

Leyland and Blackburn are prime examples of towns where good broadband has made a significant difference. In Leyland, with a speed of 85 Mbps, local businesses have thrived, attracting young entrepreneurs and creating a dynamic local economy. Blackburn, clocking in at 75 Mbps, has seen similar effects. The improved connectivity has also had a positive social impact, allowing for better access to online educational resources and healthcare services. This is particularly beneficial in Blackburn, where educational attainment has historically been lower than the national average.

Wilmslow, Burnley, and Southport, all boasting speeds above 70 Mbps, have seen their residents’ quality of life improve substantially. In Wilmslow, a town known for its affluent population, the high broadband speed has enabled seamless remote working, thus promoting a better work-life balance. Burnley and Southport, towns with a more diverse demographic, have also seen increased social equality as their residents get easier access to essential online services and job opportunities.

On the other end of the spectrum, Workington and Kendal struggle with poor broadband speeds of just 36 and 37 Mbps respectively. In Workington, the lack of connectivity has hindered local business growth, making it difficult to rejuvenate an already sluggish economy. Moreover, the town has a larger older population who could benefit from telehealth services, making the poor broadband a significant issue. Kendal faces similar challenges, where a poor educational background is further exacerbated by low internet speeds, restricting access to online learning resources.

Barrow, Thornton-Cleveleys, and Skelmersdale also fall short with subpar broadband services. In Barrow, where the local economy is already fragile, the lack of reliable internet acts as a barrier to new investments and business ventures. Thornton-Cleveleys and Skelmersdale, with speeds of 39 and 43 Mbps, face social inequality challenges. Limited broadband access in these towns disproportionately affects low-income families, limiting their options for healthcare, education, and employment. This creates a cycle of inequality that’s difficult to break, highlighting the urgent need for improved broadband services.

Comments from Thomas Buck, Head of Broadband at Fair Internet Report:

“The divide between towns with good and poor broadband doesn’t just affect download speeds; it shapes futures. Picture a schoolkid, eager to excel, struggling to submit homework on time or unable to access valuable resources like BBC Bitesize. They’re not failing because they lack ambition; they’re being held back by inadequate broadband.

Parents who could be enjoying a better work-life balance are chained to office commutes because their home broadband can’t handle remote work. Even catching up with family over a video call becomes a test of patience, and watching a film without buffering interruptions is a luxury. A dodgy broadband connection affects more than just your online activity; it constrains every aspect of your daily life.”

The full list of analysed towns by broadband download speed is:

North West overall: 53 Mbps

1. Leyland – 85 Mbps

2. Blackburn – 74.93 Mbps

3. Wilmslow – 72.47 Mbps

4. Burnley – 70.32 Mbps

5. Southport – 69.94 Mbps

6. Fleetwood – 65.19 Mbps

7. Winsford – 64.2 Mbps

8. Preston – 63.07 Mbps

9. St Helens – 58.75 Mbps

10. Accrington – 58.61 Mbps

11. Fylde – 57.36 Mbps

12. Blackpool – 55.57 Mbps

13. Congleton – 55.01 Mbps

14. Huyton – 54.33 Mbps

15. Great Sankey – 53.91 Mbps

16. Nelson – 53.15 Mbps

17. Ashton-under-Lyne – 51.18 Mbps

18. Lancaster – 49.54 Mbps

19. Morecambe – 48.17 Mbps

20. Rossendale – 48.17 Mbps

21. Saddleworth – 47.54 Mbps

22. Carlisle – 43.99 Mbps

23. Crewe – 43.52 Mbps

24. Skelmersdale – 43.07 Mbps

25. Saint Anne’s on the Sea – 40.56 Mbps’s-on-the-Sea

26. Thornton-Cleveleys – 38.52 Mbps

27. Barrow – 36.84 Mbps

28. Kendal – 36.55 Mbps

29. Workington – 35.77 Mbps

The speeds listed represent the median download speed in megabits per second (Mbps). Fair Internet Report uses medians (the middle number in a list of numbers sorted from smallest to largest) as it is less affected by extreme values, giving a more balanced snapshot of a dataset. Averages can be skewed by very high or low numbers, making them less reliable for capturing the ‘typical’ value.