Living in the centre of towns and cities is no guarantee of fast broadband speeds, according to a new study.

Research conducted by price comparison service uSwitch.com over three months has revealed that the postcode district EC2Y, which covers the Barbican, has the slowest broadband speed in London, with an average of 5.3Mbps.

By contrast, those in SE7, which covers Charlton in Greenwich, enjoy the fastest online surfing in the capital, with speeds of 22.46Mbps – a difference of 76 percent.

It is a similar story in Liverpool, where the L1 postcode area, home to the city's cathedral, concert halls and theatres, gets just under 8Mbps, while those living in L38 get some of the fastest broadband in the country, with an average of 26Mbps.

In general, the study found massive speed discrepancies between locations that are, in many cases, just a few miles apart.

Birmingham has the greatest disparity, with average download speeds of 20.9Mbps in postcode district B42, which covers the areas of Perry Barr, Great Barr and Hamstead, and 2.2Mbps just a mile and a half away in B35 (Castle Vale). At this speed it would take 11 hours to download a BluRay film, according to uSwitch.

“Although a recent Ofcom report revealed that the UK’s average broadband speed has increased by a third in the last year, our data suggests that this isn’t the whole picture,” said Marie-Louise Abretti, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com.

Abretti said that sluggish broadband could be due to the device someone is using to get online, or their router. Plugging in instead of surfing wirelessly can help to boost speeds, as well as relocating the router so that it is away from TV monitors, stereo speakers and halogen lights.

“If you’re still stuck suffering from slow or inconsistent speeds, check to see what service you could be getting with another provider,” she added. “Signing up to a fibre service is a sure fire way of speeding up your broadband – and almost two thirds of the country now has this option.”

uSwitch noted 65% of UK households can now benefit from superfast broadband, but many don’t know it is available in their area. Even those who are aware are simply not making the leap to fibre, with the biggest concern being the additional financial strain it could put on household budgets.

The research is based on 900,000 speed tests conducted in UK's 30 most densely populated post towns between 1 December 2012 and 28 February 2013. Data collected includes speeds from both ADSL and fibre optic connections.

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