Ofcom’s annual Connected Nations report, which measures the availability of broadband and mobile services across the UK, found that full-fibre connections are now available to 12.4 million households (42%) – an increase of 4.3 million from last year.
Full-fibre connections – along with upgraded cable networks – can deliver download speeds of one gigabit per second (Gbit/s) or higher. In total, gigabit-capable broadband through a range of technologies is now available to 70% of the UK (nearly 21 million homes), up from 47% last year.
With households now using 482 GB of data a month on average, full fibre can better support families who need to stream, work, game, video-call and study online all at the same time.
But still only around 25% of households are taking it up where it is available to them. Customers who are out of contract could potentially upgrade to a discounted full fibre package without paying more than they currently do.
Connecting hard-to-reach areas
The vast majority (97%) of UK homes can now get superfast broadband, which provides download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s; although more than a quarter (27%) who have access to it have not taken it up.
However, nearly 80,000 homes and businesses (0.3%) do not have access to ‘decent’ broadband, defined by the Government as offering download speeds of 10 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 1 Mbit/s. Many of these are in the hardest-to-reach parts of the UK.
This figure has fallen from 123,000 last year, and we estimate that a further 15,000 of these premises will be covered by publicly-funded rollout schemes in the next 12 months.
Satellite broadband can also be an alternative for people who do not have access to traditional broadband services.
Thousands of customers in the UK are now taking low earth orbit satellite broadband services, and the Government recently announced a new trial to deliver high-speed internet to more than a dozen very hard-to-reach locations across the country using satellite.
Says Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Network and Communications Group Director:
“Millions more people are benefitting from faster, more reliable internet as the rapid rollout of full-fibre broadband continues. That can be particularly important at this time of year, as online shopping peaks and people stream festive favourites.
It’s also encouraging to see more people in hard-to-reach areas get access to decent broadband, as work continues to connect rural communities.”
The rollout of 5G has also rapidly increased in the last year. Ofcom estimates that around seven in ten UK properties are in areas where 5G is available from at least one mobile network operator, up from about half last year.
Around one in five mobile handsets are now 5G-capable, a figure that has doubled over the past 12 months, while 5G traffic has trebled over the same period and now makes up almost 10% of all mobile traffic.