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The ultimate guide to broadband in Edinburgh – 2016

Luke Thompson
Friday, April 29th 2016

Like the best highland whisky, the City of Edinburgh is steeped in a rich and heady mixture of vivid history and world-class culture.

This guide represents a complete survey of broadband in Edinburgh in 2016, from the availability of superfast to businesses and residences, to city-wide wi-fi, to broadband in hospitals and universities, to notable Edinburgh e-businesses.

Overview of broadband in Edinburgh

Overview of broadband in Edinburgh

Broadband coverage in Edinburgh is fairly ubiquitous, but some areas have access to a greater variety of broadband providers and services than others. Enter your postcode below and we’ll tell you what broadband is like in your part of the Scottish capital.

Edinburgh superfast broadband availability map

This map provides the current overview of ‘superfast’ fibre broadband both in Edinburgh and indeed across the country as a whole. ‘Superfast’ is currently categorised as any broadband speed over 24Mbps or over 30Mbps, depending whether you ask BDUK (Openreach) or Ofcom, respectively.

Overview of broadband in Edinburgh

For a pinpoint-accurate postcode check, you should scroll down to the bottom of this page, enter your postcode and we will tell you exactly what is available at that location.

The current state of Edinburgh’s fibre broadband network

According to our speed tests the average broadband download speed in Edinburgh is around 23Mbps and the average upload speed is 3Mbps. BT Openreach and Virgin Media run Edinburgh’s two main fibre broadband networks. Over the past few years fibre availability in Edinburgh has improved considerably thanks, in large part, to money from the Broadband Development UK (BDUK) fund. This saw the fibre infrastructure extend into parts of the city that neither BT nor Virgin Media had covered.

Nevertheless, while most of the city now has fibre, some areas are still without high-speed broadband. Generally these areas have been passed over due to external factors, such as the geographical constraints of the topography or areas possessing World Heritage Site status.

There are hundreds of wi-fi hotspots scattered around Edinburgh allowing to you to get online without having to dip into your data allowance. But while being able to get free wi-fi on the bus or in one of Edinburgh’s many museums is beneficial, it can’t compensate for the lack of fibre availability in many equally important locales.

Both individuals and businesses still need fibre broadband. Luckily the Edinburgh-based ISP, Commsworld, may soon meet this demand through the rollout of its own new fibre network.

Commsworld is Edinburgh's most notable local broadband provider

Established in Edinburgh in 1994, Commsworld is a business broadband and phone telecommunications provider with a history of providing top-quality infrastructure to meet the growing demands of Edinburgh’s many businesses and industries.

Commsworld is currently rolling out fibre across Edinburgh

Commsworld is partnering with CityFibre to bring gigabit broadband to Edinburgh as part of a future-proof upgrade to the city’s broadband infrastructure.

In addition to the Gigabit Cities programme, Commsworld is also rolling out an even faster fibre network than its gigabit infrastructure.

This new infrastructure is known as the Edinburgh CORE network, and will provide multi-gigabit broadband to big businesses located in the city centre.

Broadband at Edinburgh’s Universities

Broadband at Edinburgh’s Universities

Edinburgh is renowned for its educational facilities, boasting some of the most illustrious universities and colleges in the UK. There are four universities in the city and, of Edinburgh’s total population, around 20% are students at one of these four institutions.

The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It has been integral to the progress of intellectual development in the western world, boasting such notable alumni as Charles Darwin, David Hume, James Wilson, and Alexander Graham Bell.

In the 2016 University League Table, the University of Edinburgh is ranked as the 20th best UK University.

On campus

The University of Edinburgh has free wi-fi throughout its numerous campuses. In total, there are 2272 wi-fi access points distributed between them, meaning that no matter where you are in the University you’re certain to be close to one.

Nearly all of the University’s wi-fi points are compatible with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz devices. For minimal interference, connect to the 5GHz band (you need a compatible device to do this).

Those visiting the University libraries should move away from any metal stacks when connecting over wireless as these can cause interference.

Off campus

If you’re on campus, you’re never far away from a wi-fi hotspot, but even beyond the University’s boundaries it’s still easy to find a hotspot and get online. Places near the University of Edinburgh that offer wi-fi internet include:

  • National Library
  • Café Hub
  • Caffè Nero
  • Starbucks
  • Heineken Meadow Bar
  • Any BT Payphone
  • Kilimanjaro Coffee
  • Grind House
  • Black Medicine Coffee
  • Hula Juice Bar
  • Beehive
  • Banshee Labyrinth

Student accommodation

All the University’s official student halls come with free fixed-line broadband in every study-bedroom and free wi-fi in the majority of common areas.

If you’re moving into private rented accommodation, your landlord may provide you with broadband as part of the overall utility bill. If not, use our broadband availability checker and we’ll tell you what broadband providers and packages you can get.

A handful of broadband providers offer student deals for broadband. Generally, these student deals are tied to nine-month contracts (rather than 12-month or 18-month), and last from the beginning of the student year to its end.

Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University was named after both the 16th-century philanthropist George Heriot and the Scottish inventor and engineer James Watt. It was established in 1821 and attained official University status in 1966. The University’s main campus is set in 380 acres of parkland in the rural west of the city.

The University has seen several notable alumni pass through its halls, including the author Irvine Welsh; television executive Adam Crozier; novelist Dame Muriel Spark; and James Nasmyth, the inventor of the steam hammer.

In the 2016 University League Table, Heriot-Watt University ranked as the 37th best University in the UK.

On campus

Heriot-Watt University has free wi-fi throughout the Edinburgh campus, though signal strength will vary depending on your location.

Rather than operate its own wi-fi system, the University is served by the ‘eduroam initiative’, which is a cross-University wi-fi service permitting wi-fi access at multiple institutions throughout the world.

Off campus

Due to its placement in the more rural west of Edinburgh, there are few places to get free wi-fi outside of the University. However, if you head a little further afield to areas such as Currie, Juniper Green, or Sighthill, you will find wi-fi access in several notable locations, including:

  • The Riccarton Inn
  • Kinleith Arms
  • Wester Hailes Library
  • Sighthill Library
  • Liberty’s
  • Currie Library

Student accommodation

All of the University’s official Edinburgh-based student halls of residence have broadband. This is included in your standard student rental bill. Those who have questions or problems with their broadband connection should contact their hall warden for assistance.

Those moving into a shared student property will, most likely, have to pay for broadband privately.

To find out what’s available, you can enter your postcode into our availability checker at the bottom of this page, and we’ll tell you exactly what you can get in your new property.

Some broadband providers offer deals specifically for students. These deals are usually subject to nine-month contracts lasting from the start of the student year to the end. That’s in contrast to most other broadband contracts that tend to last at least 12 months, but usually 18 or 24 months.

Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier University takes its name from the prominent mathematician John Napier, and is one of the leading UK universities for business courses and journalism. It attained full University status in 1992, evolving from its previous status as a technical college.

In the 2016 University League Table, Edinburgh Napier University is ranked as the 92nd best University in the UK.

On campus

Like many UK universities, Edinburgh Napier University’s on-campus wi-fi service is provided by eduroam. This means that once you’ve logged in to the eduroam system for the first time, you can get online via eduroam at any other University or educational facility included in the eduroam network.

The University’s wi-fi is available throughout all three campuses (Sighthill, Craiglockhart, and Merchiston). It relies on the 2.4GHz band, so you may experience interference at busy times of the day.

Off campus

There are numerous places to get online outside of the University. Mostly, these places consist of coffee shops and public amenities, such as libraries. Here’s a short list of some possibilities:

  • Caffè Nero
  • Dominion Cinema
  • Black Medicine Coffee Company
  • Morningside Library
  • Starbucks
  • Oxgangs Library

Student accommodation

Halls of residence at Edinburgh Napier University all include free internet access through fixed-line broadband and wi-fi. Achievable speeds vary depending on whether you take standard or superior accommodation, with the former maxing out at 25Mbps, and the latter reaching 50Mbps.

If you’re planning to stay in private rented accommodation either alone or with friends, you may be responsible for installing and paying for your own private broadband connection. Use our availability checker to see what’s available.

Some broadband providers offer specific deals for student broadband. Generally, these deals are subject to nine-month contracts, and last from the start of the student year to the end.

Queen Margaret University

Queen Margaret University is the youngest University in Edinburgh, only achieving full University status in 2007. It was established in 1875 as The Edinburgh School of Cookery and Domestic Economy, and part of that original focus continues to be expressed at the University through its recent launch of a Master’s degree in Gastronomy.

In the 2016 University League Table, Queen Margaret University is ranked as the 78th best University in the UK.

On campus

Two wireless internet networks serve Queen Margaret University: the eduroam network (which is shared with many other universities), and the QM_Wireless network. Wi-fi access is available throughout the University, including the café areas of the Students’ Union and in student residences.

Off campus

As rural fields and residential areas surround the University, wi-fi access outside of the University walls is fairly scarce. However, if you head into Musselburgh proper, you’ll find a number of cafés and services that provide wi-fi access.

  • Musselburgh Library
  • The David Macbeth Moir
  • Musselburgh Racecourse
  • Costa
  • Subway
  • The Café Quay

Student accommodation

All Queen Margaret University halls of residence come with wi-fi as standard. The cost of this internet connection is included in your student rental payment.

With private accommodation, the situation is a little different. Some landlords may include an internet connection as part of the general rental agreement but, usually, students are responsible for setting up (and paying for) their own broadband services.

To see what’s available in the region surrounding the University, you should enter the street’s postcode into the availability checker at the bottom of this page.

Broadband providers such as Virgin Media and BT often offer deals for student broadband. Usually, these deals are subject to nine-month contracts, making them a perfect option for those planning to return home during the summer months.

Broadband and wi-fi in Edinburgh’s hospitals

Broadband and wi-fi in Edinburgh’s hospitals

The Scottish capital has some of the oldest and most admired public hospitals in the UK, many of which are ‘teaching hospitals’ that serve to educate doctors and nurses from all over the world in modern healthcare techniques in addition to regular care of patients.

Along with many smaller healthcare facilities, there are four main hospitals in Edinburgh: The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.

If you have to spend a spell in hospital, it’s nice to know you can keep in touch with those outside. Here’s what internet access is like in the four Edinburgh hospitals outlined above.

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh is one of the oldest hospitals in Edinburgh. It was established in 1729, and over the decades has been the originator of much technological and philosophical advancement in the field of medicine and patient care.

Internet access

Internet access at The Royal Infirmary is supplied by Hospedia: a private company that provides bedside communication and entertainment units to many UK hospitals. You have to pay to use Hospedia (generally around the £10 per 24 hours mark), and some sites and online services may be unavailable through the system.

While we would like to avoid making judgments as much as possible, charging people who do not choose to be where they are around 40 times the going price of a broadband connection is, well... awful, frankly.

Western General Hospital

The Western General Hospital, founded in 1868, contains one of the UK’s foremost cancer research and treatment departments. It is one of the city’s main teaching hospitals and has recently opened a facility for the treatment of young people suffering from cancer.

Internet access

Like the majority of hospitals under the NHS Lothian umbrella, the private company Hospedia – which supplies bedside communication units in wards – provides patient internet facilities. These units can be used to get online, send emails, and other internet activities.

Services provided by Hospedia are generally charged. The usual price is £10 per 24 hours and covers all Hospedia services, including television and internet.

Royal Edinburgh Hospital

A psychiatric hospital based in the heart of the city, the Royal Edinburgh Hospital provides care and treatment for those suffering from psychological disturbances such as addiction, schizophrenia, PTSD, and aphasias.

Doctor Andrew Duncan first opened the hospital in the early 19th century with money from the British Parliament.

Internet access

Like many UK hospitals, there is no wi-fi access in Royal Edinburgh Hospital. However, internet access is available in the Hive, the Patients’ Library, and within the Craiglockhart Centre Resource Room.

Royal Hospital for Sick Children

Located on Sciennes Road in Edinburgh’s south side, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children provides paediatric healthcare for children up to the age of 13 years. The hospital is commonly known as ‘Sick Kids’, and was originally opened in 1860 to deal with Edinburgh’s high child mortality rate.

Internet access

Wi-fi is restricted to the hospital wards and is provided by the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

This lets children stay in contact with friends and family easily and simply, and is a more efficient system than that imposed by Hospedia, which is used by many other Edinburgh hospitals and, relative to a regular broadband deal is verging on the criminally expensive.

The Teenage Cancer Trust Unit within the hotel is also equipped with wireless internet along with gaming facilities, televisions, and other entertainment services.

Broadband and wi-fi in Edinburgh’s cultural and historical scene

Broadband and wi-fi in Edinburgh’s cultural and historical scene

If there’s one thing Edinburgh is best known for, it’s the culture. The city hosts festivals and events throughout the year, but none quite as famous as the annual summer festivals extravaganza, including the Edinburgh International Festival, the Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and three more.

As well as the festival scene, Edinburgh is also home to myriad theatres, museums, galleries, attractions, and historic landmarks that draw people from all over the world to the Scottish capital.

Many of these locations boast free wi-fi, and while free internet shouldn’t be your main reason for visiting these attractions, knowing that you can share your museum or zoo selfies without having to hunt around for an internet connection can be a big bonus.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is the most popular visitor attraction in the city, drawing more than 1.4 million visitors a year through its portcullis gate. The castle perches on the peak of a once-active volcano, giving it commanding views across the whole of Edinburgh, as well as significant defence against charging barbarian hordes.

Wi-fi access

Edinburgh Castle doesn’t have wi-fi itself (those big thick walls keep out more than just English invaders), but that’s not to say wi-fi isn’t available nearby. If you head outside the castle and down Castlehill Street, you can find free wi-fi in several locations, including Café Hub, Jolly Judge, the Central Library, and Hula Juice Bar.

The National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland contains thousands of objects and artefacts relating to periods of history dating from ancient Egypt through to modern-day Scottish culture.

Some of the exhibits on display include Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal; the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex; a coffin shaped like a Mercedes-Benz; and the Millennium Clock.

Wi-fi access

You can get online with your mobile devices and laptops in several areas of the museum: the Entrance Hall, the Museum Brasserie, the Grand Gallery (including the surrounding balconies), Hawthornden Court and the Research Library. Internet access is entirely free of charge.

The National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland has been in existence since 1689, when it was known as the Advocates Library. It has since grown to encompass several buildings and over seven million individual books, including the First Folio of Shakespeare.

The library specialises in Scotland’s knowledge, culture, and history, containing many rare documents and journals that you can peruse when you visit.

Wi-fi access

Free wi-fi is available throughout the library’s reading rooms. However, you will need to request a password from a staff desk to connect. If you’re online, be sure to keep the volume of your device muted – you don’t want to draw the attention of any disappointed librarians.

Edinburgh Zoo

Boasting some of the most impressive collections of animals in the UK (including two incredibly rare giant pandas), Edinburgh Zoo is visited by hundreds of thousands of people every year and is currently rated as the second most popular attraction in the city.

The zoo’s most popular exhibits include Brilliant Birds, which is a walk-through aviary full of exotic birds; Penguins Rock, which is a penguin pool housing several king penguins; and Budongo Trail, which is a facility occupied by a troop of chimpanzees.

Wi-fi access

Wi-fi is available within the zoo grounds and is free of charge. Wi-fi is also available in the Holiday Inn next door, which is useful if you’ve decided to stay for an extended zoo visit.

The Usher Hall

The Usher Hall was opened for the first time back in 1914, and since that day has played host to hundreds of performances from musicians of all stripes and colours.

In its early days the hall was used for political rallies and was equipped for use as an air raid shelter during the Second World War. It also hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1972.

Wi-fi access

Wi-fi was incorporated following the redirection of cash generated through the Superconnected Cities programme. You can now get online in the Usher Hall for free on your mobile devices (tablets and smartphones) and your laptop – though ensure that all your devices are muted when attending a show.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh consists of 70 acres of land just a mile from the centre of the city, and is a hugely popular attraction for nature fans and flower lovers alike. The Garden is world-famous for its conservation work and its scientific research into the maintenance of biodiversity.

The Garden’s collection contains more than 273,000 individual plants representing around 4% of the world’s known plant species. So even if you think you’re green-fingered, there’s bound to be something new for you to discover.

Wi-fi access

Public wi-fi is available in the Garden’s venue rooms as well as throughout much of the larger indoor areas of the Garden. Wi-fi is free of charge and was rolled out through the Superconnected Cities programme in 2015.

Notable Edinburgh-based e-businesses

Notable Edinburgh-based e-businesses

Edinburgh first major industries included brewing, banking, printing and publishing, and many of these industries are still going strong today. That’s not to say that the city hasn’t diversified however, and now much of Edinburgh’s economy relies on the burgeoning tourism, finance, and education trades.

Dozens of world-famous businesses found their feet in Edinburgh. Some of the most famous and influential include the National Bank of Scotland, Scottish Widows, and McVitie’s. A lot of these businesses now do much of their trading online; and therefore require business broadband.

Royal Bank of Scotland

Established in 1721, the Royal Bank of Scotland (commonly abbreviated to RBS) is one of the oldest banks in Scotland, second only to the Bank of Scotland, a competitor with which RBS is often confused.

The company’s CEO is Ross McEwan, who is also the group chief executive of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. It employs over 141,000 people, many of whom are based in Edinburgh.

Digital banking

Many of its customers depend on the online banking facilities made possible through the RBS website, where they can check their bank balance, transfer money between accounts, apply for mortgages, and take out loans.

Security is tight on the RBS website, so customers know that their details are safe and their account is secure.

Skyscanner

Skyscanner is an online search engine for flights, hotels, and foreign car hire that receives more than 35 million visitors every month, making it one of the most popular websites for arranging your holiday abroad in the UK.

It has won numerous awards over the years (including the Queen’s Award for Enterprise), further cementing its reputation as a great place to book your holidays.

The company’s CEO is sketchbook and doodle addict Gareth Williams, formerly a financial software developer. He is one of the original three founders of the company, the other two being Bonamy Grimes and Barry Smith.

Skyscanner was founded in 2001 and now employs over 180 people in its Edinburgh offices and around 700 worldwide, including offices in Beijing, Shenzhen, Miami and Barcelona.

Rockstar North

Founded in 2002, Rockstar North is a game development studio responsible for the hugely popular Grand Theft Auto series of videogames – the last of which (Grand Theft Auto V) holds many records, including best-selling videogame of all time.

Leslie Benzies is Rockstar North’s president and producer. He has been integral to the development and success of many of the studio’s biggest games from 2001 to the present day.

Rockstar North currently employs around 360 people at its Edinburgh office.

Game development requires broadband

As a premier designer of interactive entertainment, a reliable broadband connection is required to keep Rockstar North’s many designers, developers, programmers and artists working on different elements simultaneously with other Rockstar studios worldwide.

Apex Hotels

With four hotels in Edinburgh, three in London, one in Glasgow, and one in Dundee, this Edinburgh-based hotelier has extended its business all over the UK, providing comfortable, stylish places for travellers to sleep and enjoy hearty breakfasts.

Norman Springford is the executive chairman and original sole founder of Apex Hotels. Before starting his own hotel business, Norman was in charge of the Edinburgh Playhouse: a listed cinema in the centre of Edinburgh that may or may not be haunted by a ghost…

Book Apex Hotel rooms online

As an increasing number of people make their hotel bookings online, reliable business broadband is required to keep the Apex Hotel website up and running.

As well as an online booking system, the Apex Hotel website features an online chat feature, so you can talk with an advisor directly to help make the booking process as smooth and untroubled as possible.

Hunter Boots

Headquartered in Edinburgh, Hunter Boots is famous for being one of the first companies to develop the Wellington boot. While largely renowned for its footwear, the company also develops tyres, conveyor belts, golf balls, and even hot water bottles.

The American entrepreneur Henry Lee Norris founded Hunter Boots way back in 1856. Its present day CEO is James Seuss, and its creative director is Alasdhair Willis. The company employs around 2,000 individuals.

Hunter Boots online

Customers looking to buy Hunter Boots and check out their other fashion items can either pop into a Hunter Boots store or go online and visit the company website. For people without easy access to a store, the website presents an efficient way to order.

Because of the important of the website to the company, Hunter Boots’ Edinburgh office needs a high quality business broadband connections such as that offered by the Edinburgh CORE network, currently being rolled out across the city.

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