YORKSHIRE’S information superhighway is like the actual highway: the further east you go, the slower it gets.
A traffic-light map of the region’s relative broadband speed shows a sea of green around the densely-populated areas of the West Riding, giving way to yellow in the hillier parts around Harrogate and Wetherby, and a swathe of red covering much of the county’s north and east.
There are exceptions – Hull, York and Grimsby, for instance, are relatively well-served. But as a rule of thumb, the smaller the population of a given area, the less likely you are to be able to connect at a reasonable speed.
This is even more true of high-speed fibre broadband – no longer tech-exotica but a day-to-day necessity for hard-core users and those who run businesses – which is often not available at all away from the biggest towns and cities. However, BT’s wholesale arm is gradually (too gradually, say critics) rolling out fibre to other areas – which makes a periodic check of your postcode and landline number a few minutes well spent.
Fibre, which offers speeds up to nine times faster than copper wire-based (ADSL) broadband, is less expensive than it was especially if you go for a service capped at around 38Mb, which is still much faster than copper. But avoid deals which cap the amount of data.
Fibre has other advantages, too. You can do away with those little microfilters and you’ll benefit from a hard-wired internet connection to your main socket. An engineer will need to visit your home.
Plusnet and Sky are among the most competitive fibre suppliers, and you’ll find plenty of introductory deals if you sign up to a 12 or 18-month contract. Currently £15 a month is a target price for unlimited, 38Mb fibre broadband. If your telephone exchange has yet to be upgraded from copper, you can take your chances with TalkTalk – one of the more complained-about suppliers – and reduce that to just £5 a month. With any deal you will probably be required to move your phone line rental to your new supplier, so check the cost.
Though BT’s fibre rollout speed is slower than you may like, they have produced an interactive map showing how long you may have to wait. You can find it at www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when.