Words by Natalie Paris
The internet connections at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and City, were all tested recently by an independent broadband advice website thinkbroadband.com. The results were compared to a Government commitment to reach a stage where 90 per cent of British premises have access to superfast broadband by 2016.
Superfast is defined as a speed in excess of 24 Mbps but the lowest rated connection on the list, at Gatwick Airport, put could only manage a meagre 0.5Mbps – just two per cent of the required speed to be considered superfast.
Stansted was the airport with the fastest internet speeds, with 8.1 Mbps recorded, though even this figure shows that the internet offered at our airports lags behind that already available on the Tube.
“It is quite shocking just how slow our major airports are. As hubs for businesspeople and holidaymakers all looking to connect to Wi-Fi, these speeds will continue to cause frustration,” said Andrew Ferguson, editor of thinkbroadband.com .
In contrast to the airport results, he said the company also recently tested speeds on the capital’s Tube network and found that the fastest speed – measured at Holborn – far exceeded the ‘superfast’ threshold at 122.4 Mbs.
“Our airports will have to look at themselves and assess what they can do improve these dismal speeds,” he added. “Consumers will demand it.”
Heathrow Airport’s Wi-Fi speed was also found to be lacking, recording just 1 Mbps during peak times between August and September this year. The survey found that London’s two busiest airports provided the slowest service.
The amount of free internet use offered by UK airports varies also. London City Airport offers unlimited access, while Heathrow provides four hours of web time. Luton Airport, fifth busiest in the UK, is the least generous, allowing its customers just 30 minutes of precious browsing time.
UK airports were criticised last year for the charges they were applying to Wi-Fi. While none of the UK’s six busiest airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Stansted, Edinburgh and Luton – offer unlimited free internet access, almost half (24) of Europe’s 50 busiest airports – including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Munich, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Prague and Rome – do.
This article was written by Natalie Paris from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.