The UK’s Most Connected Cities: London tops the charts as the UK’s best digitally connected city
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The UK’s Most Connected Cities: London tops the charts as the UK’s best digitally connected city

10th June 2019
By Arturo Pizano

Businesses across the UK are increasingly reliant on remaining connected and mobile, with great internet connectivity being the key to maintaining productivity. So, whether conference calling, browsing the web, or working remotely, we’ve looked at where the UK’s savviest digital professionals should head to for the best internet connection – and where they should avoid.

London is the UK’s best connected city

City Index Score Rank Population Mean Download speed (Mbit/s) Mean upload speed (Mbit/s) Full Fibre availability (% premises) % of premises unable to receive 2Mbit/s 4G coverage (indoor, all operators) Data Coverage (indoor all operators)
London 8.5 1        8,173,941 52.5 6.5 11.4 0.0 94.1 100.0
Bristol 8.4 2            428,234 66.6 5.8 6.9 0.0 90.9 100.0
Cardiff 8.4 3            346,090 61.0 6.9 6.8 0.0 83.7 99.7
Coventry 8.3 4            316,960 52.0 6.0 16.4 0.0 77.5 100.0
Nottingham 8.2 5            305,680 66.0 5.9 4.8 0.0 86.9 100.0
Southampton 8.1 6            236,882 56.3 6.1 6.2 0.0 88.9 100.0
Liverpool 8.0 7            466,415 56.6 5.7 3.8 0.0 91.7 100.0
Leicester 7.9 8            329,839 61.4 5.6 3.2 0.0 86.9 100.0
Glasgow City 7.9 9            593,000 46.8 6.1 6.5 0.0 89.8 100.0
Birmingham 7.9 10        1,073,045 59.0 5.5 3.1 0.0 90.0 100.0
Edinburgh 7.9 11            477,000 63.1 5.9 4.7 0.1 89.6 99.9
Newcastle 7.7 12            280,177 49.8 6.0 6.9 0.1 90.6 100.0
Leeds 7.7 13            751,485 52.4 5.9 7.8 0.1 85.2 99.8
Dudley 7.7 14            312,925 60.2 5.8 0.1 0.0 81.3 99.9
Manchester 7.6 15            503,127 45.8 6.0 6.5 0.1 92.8 100.0
Wigan 7.6 16            317,849 61.6 6.2 0.4 0.0 68.0 99.9
Bradford 7.3 17            522,452 51.2 5.5 1.8 0.1 85.4 99.9
Fife 7.2 18            365,000 43.4 6.3 8.1 0.2 77.7 98.6
Sheffield 7.2 19            552,698 43.0 5.9 1.5 0.1 86.8 99.8
Cornwall 6.2 20            532,273 27.6 5.3 31.0 0.6 59.9 90.7

London is officially the UK’s best digitally connected city. A global hub for international business and finance, the capital scored top in our digital connection index that weighs up factors such as internet speed, fibre optic broadband coverage, and mobile data availability. Bristol came second on our list, and Cardiff took third.

Notably, the cities of Coventry, Nottingham, Birmingham, and Leicester all represent the Midlands in the UK’s top 10 most connected cities while, heading further north, only Liverpool and Glasgow rank among the 10 best cities for remaining connected.

The north dominates 4G connectivity

Despite London topping the list, northern cities take the lead when it comes to finding a great 4G connection. Bristol is the only southern city outside of the capital to offer connectivity at more than 90% of premises, whereas Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool all represent the north in offering 4G coverage at 90% or more homes.

Being one of the UK’s top digital hubs, Leeds follows this regional trend but does struggle when it comes to a good overall connection, especially when compared to other northern cities like Newcastle, Nottingham and Liverpool.

Where is the UK’s fastest internet?

In order to find the speediest connections in the UK, we’ve compiled the mean download speed and mean upload speed for the 20 most populated areas in the UK to give an overall speed score.

Cardiff is the best city for internet speed

City Speed Score Rank Population Mean Download speed (Mbit/s) Mean upload speed (Mbit/s)
Cardiff 9.6 1            346,090 61.0 6.9
Nottingham 9.2 2            305,680 66.0 5.9
Bristol 9.2 3            428,234 66.6 5.8
Wigan 9.1 4            317,849 61.6 6.2
Edinburgh 9.0 5            477,000 63.1 5.9
Dudley 8.7 6            312,925 60.2 5.8
London 8.7 7        8,173,941 52.5 6.5
Leicester 8.7 8            329,839 61.4 5.6
Southampton 8.6 9            236,882 56.3 6.1
Birmingham 8.4 10        1,073,045 59.0 5.5
Liverpool 8.4 11            466,415 56.6 5.7
Coventry 8.3 12            316,960 52.0 6.0
Leeds 8.2 13            751,485 52.4 5.9
Newcastle 8.1 14            280,177 49.8 6.0
Glasgow City 7.9 15            593,000 46.8 6.1
Bradford 7.8 16            522,452 51.2 5.5
Fife 7.8 17            365,000 43.4 6.3
Manchester 7.8 18            503,127 45.8 6.0
Sheffield 7.5 19            552,698 43.0 5.9
Cornwall 5.9 20            532,273 27.6 5.3

Surprisingly London isn’t the best place for a quick connection. In fact, Cardiff has the fastest internet, with Nottingham, Bristol, Wigan and Edinburgh the only other cities with a speed score of nine out of 10 or more.

Manchester has the lowest speed score in the North West, behind Wigan and Liverpool, while Leeds has the quickest internet connection in Yorkshire. Nottingham, Dudley, Leicester, and Birmingham all occupy a spot in the top 10 cities for internet speed, suggesting the Midlands is a hotspot for quick internet.

Southwark is London’s best borough for connectivity

City Index Score Rank Population Mean Download speed (Mbit/s) Mean upload speed (Mbit/s) Full Fibre availability (% premises) % of premises unable to receive 2Mbit/s 4G coverage (indoor, all operators) Data Coverage (indoor all operators)
Southwark 9.0 1            288,283 42.0 5.5 45.5 0.0 99.0 100.0
Wandsworth 8.6 2            306,995 47.7 7.0 22.1 0.0 99.7 100.0
Hammersmith and Fulham 8.5 3            182,493 40.4 7.0 25.9 0.0 100.0 100.0
Waltham Forest 8.5 4            258,249 60.2 6.0 21.2 0.0 92.6 100.0
Richmond upon Thames 8.4 5            186,990 65.8 7.3 6.5 0.0 92.9 100.0
Tower Hamlets 8.3 6            254,096 31.5 5.5 34.5 0.0 99.6 100.0
Brent 8.3 7            311,215 48.1 6.7 16.3 0.0 97.9 100.0
Newham 8.3 8            307,984 47.9 6.6 16.5 0.0 98.8 100.0
Kensington and Chelsea 8.3 9            158,649 56.6 7.0 7.4 0.0 100.0 100.0
Hounslow 8.2 10            253,957 61.0 6.8 7.3 0.0 93.7 100.0
Redbridge 8.2 11            278,970 59.6 6.5 8.5 0.0 96.8 100.0
Merton 8.2 12            199,693 62.6 7.2 2.2 0.0 96.2 100.0
Kingston upon Thames 8.2 13            160,060 65.3 7.2 2.2 0.0 89.7 100.0
Camden 8.2 14            220,338 56.7 6.2 9.1 0.0 99.4 100.0
Sutton 8.1 15            190,146 63.3 7.0 1.6 0.0 94.3 100.0
Harrow 8.1 16            239,056 57.8 7.2 3.3 0.0 95.9 100.0
Ealing 8.1 17            338,449 51.8 7.2 7.6 0.0 94.2 100.0
Greenwich 8.1 18            254,557 49.7 6.6 10.9 0.0 95.7 100.0
Enfield 8.1 19            312,466 60.7 6.6 2.6 0.0 96.3 100.0
Haringey 8.0 20            254,926 58.3 6.5 3.5 0.0 98.9 100.0
Hillingdon 8.0 21            273,936 59.2 6.9 3.4 0.0 92.3 100.0
Hackney 8.0 22            246,270 48.8 6.2 11.0 0.0 99.7 100.0
Barnet 8.0 23            356,386 43.0 7.4 10.5 0.0 93.1 100.0
Barking and Dagenham 8.0 24            185,911 58.6 6.3 5.5 0.0 93.5 100.0
Lambeth 8.0 25            303,086 46.3 6.1 12.3 0.0 99.8 100.0
Islington 8.0 26            206,125 55.0 5.7 8.3 0.0 100.0 100.0
Lewisham 7.9 27            275,885 44.4 5.9 13.0 0.0 98.7 100.0
Croydon 7.9 28            363,378 55.5 6.0 6.6 0.0 93.1 99.9
Westminster 7.7 29            219,396 28.5 5.1 22.9 0.0 100.0 100.0
Bexley 7.7 30            231,997 51.8 6.4 2.4 0.0 89.8 100.0
City of London 6.8 31                 7,375 17.1 1.9 25.1 0.0 100.0 100.0
Havering 6.3 32            237,232 59.4 7.0 2.9 0.1 89.6 100.0
Bromley 6.1 33            309,392 59.5 6.6 0.6 0.1 87.3 99.9

Within London, Southwark in the centre is the best connected borough, with Bromley in south London proving to be the least connected.

Interestingly, Lambeth lies immediately west of Southwark but sits in the bottom third of London boroughs for digital connectivity.

The boroughs of Southwark, Westminster and the City of London are all among the main financial districts in the city, however, while Southwark is the capital’s best connected borough, the City of London and Westminster are among the worst, overall.

The two underperforming locales, though, are both in the top five areas of London for a full fibre connection, joined by Tower Hamlets, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Southwark. The latter offers a full connection at almost 50% of premises, better than anywhere else in the UK.

For the best 4G connection in London head to the centre of the city, with each of the central boroughs all offering 99% coverage, or better. Hammersmith and Fulham is the only borough outside the centre to offer full 4G coverage, with the City of London, Kensington and Chelsea, Islington, and Westminster all offering 100% coverage, too.

Richmond upon Thames ranks best for internet speed in London

City Index Score Rank Population Mean Download speed (Mbit/s) Mean upload speed (Mbit/s)
Richmond upon Thames 9.9 1            186,990 65.8 7.3
Kingston upon Thames 9.8 2            160,060 65.3 7.2
Merton 9.6 3            199,693 62.6 7.2
Sutton 9.5 4            190,146 63.3 7.0
Harrow 9.3 5            239,056 57.8 7.2
Havering 9.2 6            237,232 59.4 7.0
Hounslow 9.2 7            253,957 61.0 6.8
Hillingdon 9.2 8            273,936 59.2 6.9
Enfield 9.1 9            312,466 60.7 6.6
Kensington and Chelsea 9.0 10            158,649 56.6 7.0
Bromley 9.0 11            309,392 59.5 6.6
Redbridge 8.9 12            278,970 59.6 6.5
Haringey 8.8 13            254,926 58.3 6.5
Ealing 8.8 14            338,449 51.8 7.2
Barking and Dagenham 8.7 15            185,911 58.6 6.3
Waltham Forest 8.6 16            258,249 60.2 6.0
Camden 8.5 17            220,338 56.7 6.2
Wandsworth 8.4 18            306,995 47.7 7.0
Croydon 8.3 19            363,378 55.5 6.0
Barnet 8.3 20            356,386 43.0 7.4
Bexley 8.3 21            231,997 51.8 6.4
Greenwich 8.2 22            254,557 49.7 6.6
Brent 8.2 23            311,215 48.1 6.7
Newham 8.1 24            307,984 47.9 6.6
Islington 8.0 25            206,125 55.0 5.7
Hackney 7.9 26            246,270 48.8 6.2
Hammersmith and Fulham 7.8 27            182,493 40.4 7.0
Lambeth 7.6 28            303,086 46.3 6.1
Lewisham 7.4 29            275,885 44.4 5.9
Southwark 6.9 30            288,283 42.0 5.5
Tower Hamlets 6.1 31            254,096 31.5 5.5
Westminster 5.6 32            219,396 28.5 5.1
City of London 2.6 33                 7,375 17.1 1.9

For the quickest internet in London head over to Richmond upon Thames, which has an impressive connection speed score of 9.9. Notably, however, 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 of below seven. 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.

Methodology

To create our index of the UK’s Most Connected Cities, we combined data based on internet speed, fibre optic broadband coverage and mobile data availability around the UK.

We gathered these statistics from the Connected Nations 2018 report.