Ofcom Finds Full Fibre Broadband Now Available to 5% of UK Premises

uk map of england wales scotland and northern ireland

The telecoms regulator has today published their latest Q2 2018 update to last year’s Connected Nations report, which uses more recent data from April 2018 to provide the latest coverage statistics for UK mobile and fixed line broadband networks. For example, “full fibre” (FTTP) coverage has risen to 5% (1.4 million premises).

The original report was published in December 2017, although it was largely based off data that had been captured in May 2017 (fixed broadband coverage) and June 2017 (mobile coverage). Thankfully a more recent update was posted during the Spring (here), although this still used data from January 2018. By comparison today’s report has jumped forward another quarter and is based on data captured during April 2018.

All this is very useful because fixed line broadband and 4G mobile networks are still being deployed and this report helps to reflect that on-going progress. The Government also tends to make use of Ofcom’s data to support their assessments of the market, which is another reason to keep a close eye on what the regulator observes.

The key changes since Ofcom’s Spring report are that “ultrafast broadband” coverage (defined by the regulator as speeds of 300Mbps+) has risen from 45% to 48% of the UK (14 million premises), while “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage remains on 93% after only increasing slightly to cover 27.3 million premises.

Most of the ultrafast coverage will be coming from the expansion of Virgin Media’s cable network, although Openreach has also been very busy deploying both G.fast and FTTP technology. Not to mention that a growing number of alternative network providers are also spreading FTTP at an increasingly rapid pace (see our ‘UK Summary of Full Fibre Broadband Plans and Investment‘).

The improved fixed line broadband coverage also means that the number of premises that cannot get a decent broadband service has continued to fall. Around 860,000 UK premises (3%) cannot get broadband with a download speed of at least 10Mbps and an upload of at least 1Mbps (a fall of 70,000 since the last report), which is the specification for the UK Government’s proposed broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO).

April 2018 Coverage Figures

The following table summarises the latest mobile and fixed broadband coverage figures for the United Kingdom, although you can get a similar report for each of the UK’s primary regions (England, Scotland, N.Ireland and Wales) by downloading the full October 2018 Update (PDF) and scrolling toward the bottom.

NOTE: Ofcom use a much stricter definition for geographic coverage of mobile networks (e.g. they measure by coverage provided by all operators rather than only one with the best cover), which is why their figure is so much lower than those put out by Three UK, Vodafone, O2 and EE.

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Take note that that UK government defines “superfast broadband” as starting at the slightly slower speed of 24Mbps+, which is partly why their own statistics for the national Broadband Delivery UK programme have already been able to achieve the 95% coverage target in January 2018 (here).

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