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Ofcom: 3m UK homes can access full-fibre broadband

December 20, 2019

Nearly 3 million UK homes can now access full-fibre broadband, Ofcom’s latest data on broadband and mobile availability shows.

Ofcom’s annual Connected Nations report analyses the availability of broadband and mobile services across the UK and its nations. This year’s report highlights further progress from industry in rolling out their networks, with the availability of full-fibre increasing by 67 per cent and all four mobile networks launching 5G.

The report also reveals more work is needed to improve services in rural areas, where some customers experience slower speeds than those in towns and cities.

The report shows:

Broadband availability

  • Three million homes now have access to full-fibre broadband (10 per cent), offering the fastest, most reliable connections. This is an increase of 67 per cent compared to last year.
  • 95 per cent of homes can access superfast broadband (offering download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s).
  • More than half of homes (53 per cent) can now get ultrafast broadband (offering download speeds of at least 300 Mbit/s).
  • An estimated 155,000 UK properties (0.5 per cent) are unable to receive a decent broadband connection (offering download speeds of at least 10 Mbit/s and upload speeds of at least 1 Mbit/s). This has fallen significantly from 677,000 last year (2 per cent), due to the availability of high-speed, ‘fixed wireless’ broadband services. The majority of these properties are in rural areas.

Mobile coverage

  • 95 per cent of the UK’s landmass is covered by at least one mobile network for basic mobile coverage – which supports calls and texts.
  • Geographic 4G coverage from all four mobile networks remains at 66 pr cent.
  • Geographic 4G coverage from at least one network stands at 91 per cent, leaving 9 per cent of the UK’s landmass without 4G coverage from any operator.
  • All four mobile networks have launched 5G this year, covering more than 40 UK towns and cities.

An Openreach spokesperson said: “This week we made full fibre broadband available to our two-millionth home, meaning we’re still on track to reach four million front doors by the end of March 2021.”

“At the same time, there are still more than 14 million homes and businesses in the UK that could order a better service over our network today, but who haven’t yet upgraded. That means they could be missing out on better connections that would allow them to work from home, stream entertainment, and manage their smart home devices without any interruptions. We’d encourage people to check our online fibre checker  and discover what might be on offer in their area.”

Alex Tofts, Broadband Expert at comparison site Broadband Genie, described the growth in FTTH coverage to 10 per cent as “a positive sign”. “Not only is full fibre capable of providing very fast connectivity right now, it is future-proof infrastructure which will prove to be a valuable asset in years to come. We are still some way off the government’s stated goal of nationwide FTTH coverage by 2033 so continued investment is crucial to ensure the UK can remain competitive in a world where very high speed Internet access is becoming increasingly commonplace.”

“A boost from mobile broadband has made the rural broadband situation rosier, with less than 1 per cent of premises lacking access to connections of 10Mbps+. Consumers that don’t have access to an internet connection of 10Mbps or higher will be able to request a decent connect from March 2020, when the broadband USO is implemented. Internet speeds of 10Mbps may sound underwhelming, but it’s important to remember this is only a minimum target, in most cases users should be able to enjoy higher speeds.”

According to Evan Wienburg, CEO of full fibre infrastructure provider and ISP Truespeed, the report paints a sobering picture. “While it’s encouraging to see that full fibre broadband coverage has risen 4 percentage points over the past 12 months to 10 per cent of UK premises, it’s clear that as a nation we are not moving fast enough to cement our digital economy’s future. There seems to be an even greater gulf between the digital haves and have-nots, with three million premises now able to access a full-fibre connection, but over 600,000 UK homes and businesses still unable to access even a basic fixed broadband service (i.e. one with a download speed of at least 10Mbit/s).”

“There needs to be a greater focus on accelerating full fibre network builds to ensure UK PLC has the digital infrastructure it needs to compete effectively on the world stage. In particular, we look forward to hearing how the new government plans to align with infrastructure providers to meet its ambition of introducing full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025. As a company, we will continue to invest in delivering full fibre services to underserved cities and rural communities in the south west – and play our part in making gigabit-capable connectivity ubiquitous across the UK.”

Categories: 5G, Articles, Broadband, FTTH, Mobile, Research