The finding comes from Ofcom’s annual Connected Nations report, which analyses the availability of broadband and mobile services across the UK.
The report shows that 750,000 homes upgraded to faster, more reliable full-fibre services in the last year, taking the number of properties connected to nearly two million. But these homes still represent less than a quarter of those to which full-fibre upgrades are available.
Meanwhile, around 123,000 homes still do not have access to a ‘decent’ broadband connection – defined as offering download speeds of 10 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 1 Mbit/s. However, orders have been placed under the Government’s universal broadband service that will result in around 6,500 households being connected to full-fibre broadband, and thousands more are expected to benefit from this scheme and others.
5G coverage in the UK is also revealed for the first time. Ofcom estimates that around half of UK properties are in areas where 5G is available outside from at least one mobile network operator.
Says Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Network and Communications Group Director:
“Many families now have multiple devices on the go at the same time for work, learning and entertainment – and the festive holidays can see a particular battle for bandwidth.
“Full fibre is helping meet those demands, with millions more benefitting from faster speeds and more reliable connections. But some homes in hard-to-reach areas still struggle to get decent broadband, so there’s more work to do to make sure these communities get the connections they need.”
Adds Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch.com:
“Lightning-quick connections made a giant leap forward in 2021, with full-fibre doubling its footprint and 5G now available outdoors for half of the UK’s homes.
“Taking full fibre infrastructure to eight million households is an impressive achievement, but it’s sobering to think that fewer than two million are actually taking advantage of these connections.
“The lack of awareness about what speeds consumers could be getting is a constant problem, highlighted by the fact that nine of the UK’s slowest streets for broadband could be enjoying superfast or ultrafast speed.
“With more than seven million people out of contract and potentially overpaying for their broadband deals, it’s time for consumers to check what price they’re paying for the speeds they’re getting and see if they can do better.”
Bridging the digital divide
Despite 8 million UK homes now having access to high-speed full-fibre broadband, around 123,000 homes (0.4% of the UK) still do not have access to a ‘decent’ broadband connection – defined as offering download speeds of 10 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 1 Mbit/s. At this speed, it could take up to an hour and a half to download an HD film.
The UK Government and governments in each of the UK nations continue to deliver projects aimed at making sure people in the hardest-to-reach areas can get the connections they need.
Since its launch in March 2020, orders have been placed under the Government’s universal broadband service that will result in around 6,500 households being connected to full-fibre broadband, and thousands more are expected to benefit from this scheme and others.