The availability of ultrafast broadband has grown to over half of British properties for the first time, according to Ofcom’s ‘Connected Nations’ report.
Ultrafast broadband, which offers download speeds of at least 300Mbps, was available to 53% of properties in the UK as of January 2019. This is higher than the 49% availability recorded in September 2018.
The availability of superfast broadband and full-fibre broadband has also increased. Superfast broadband, which offers download speeds of at least 30Mbps, is available to 95% of homes in the country, up from 94% in the previous report. And full-fibre broadband, which delivers a broadband connection via fibre cables from the telephone exchange directly to the home, is now available to 7% of British homes, up from 6%. More than 300,000 homes have gained access to full-fibre broadband in the last 4 months, taking the total to almost 1.8 million.
The number of people who don’t have any access to decent broadband in their homes – defined as having download speeds of at least 10Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps – is also falling. 2% of the country, or 619,000 homes, do not yet have access to a decent broadband connection, down by a third since last year. Under the government’s Universal Service Obligation, every property in the UK should be able to request a decent broadband connection by 2020.
The majority of the ultrafast broadband coverage in the UK is provided by Virgin Media’s cable network, which has long been a market leader of the technology. But BT-owned Openreach is also contributing to the expansion, investing heavily in its deployment of G.fast and Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology. Smaller broadband providers such as Hyperoptic, CityFibre and Gigaclear have also been working hard to expand the reach of their own FTTP networks.
“This is great news for the UK and we’re proud to be leading the build of faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband networks across the country,” said Kim Mears, MD Strategic Infrastructure Development at Openreach. “We want to be the national full fibre provider and we’re convinced our technology can be a huge catalyst for productivity and prosperity post-Brexit.
“We’re investing heavily in our network and people; in communities all over the UK, and we’re on track to hit our target of reaching three million premises by the end of 2020. But we want to go much further, and we will do if the conditions are right to invest.”
The Ofcom report also looked into mobile data coverage and revealed that 4G coverage across the UK is also increasing. Indoor 4G coverage from the four major providers (EE, O2, Three UK and Vodafone) is at 78%, up from 77% in September last year. Meanwhile, geographic 4G coverage is up from 66% in September to 67%. Areas not covered by any network, known as ‘not-spots’, are also decreasing. Around 8% of the UK’s land area is currently not covered, down from 9% last year.