Full-fibre broadband now available to over half UK homes, reports Ofcom


Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations report shines a light on mobile coverage and broadband availability across the UK – revealing full-fibre broadband is now on offer to the majority of UK homes.

Based on findings from April and May 2023, it shows the extent to which people in the UK are able to access the broadband and mobile phone services that they rely on.

Availability of gigabit-capable broadband continues to improve at a rapid pace, with nearly 22.4 million UK homes (75%) now able to access them. This is up from 21.9 million (73%) and has been driven by the continued rollout of full-fibre broadband.

Over half of UK homes (52%), equating to 15.4 million households, now have access to full-fibre services. This has been driven mainly by the larger fibre operators but also supported by a number of smaller providers across the UK serving individual communities and regions.

Availability of superfast broadband, offering download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s, remains at 97% of UK homes. The final 3% of properties are likely to be in harder-to-reach areas, which more recent publicly-funded schemes could help.

The vast majority of UK properties can access decent broadband – defined as offering at least 10 Mbit/s download and 1 Mbit/s upload speed.

Mobile coverage stable, with network upgrades on the way

While there hasn’t been a significant increase in coverage since Ofcom’s last update, the mobile industry continues to develop coverage.

Around 93% of the UK is predicted to have good outdoor 4G coverage from at least one operator, and this is expected to rise to 95% by end of 2025 as a result of the Shared Rural Network.

However, the UK has both geographic and road 4G ‘not-spots’ – areas where good 4G services are not available from any mobile operator. Geographic not-spots have dropped slightly since Ofcom’s last report, 8% to 7%. Road coverage remains largely the same with just 4% of all roads estimated to be an in-vehicle not-spot. This varies significantly across individual nations, however, particularly in Scotland and Wales.

For calls and texts, coverage remains largely unchanged. The range of predicted coverage by mobile operators varies from 85-93% of the UK, depending upon operator, while in addition, 99% of all UK premises are predicted to have coverage for outdoor voice calls from all mobile operators.

Peter Ames, broadband expert at Broadband Genie, comments: 

“While three-quarters of UK households are now able to get gigabit speeds, the current rate of progress suggests that the target of reaching 85% of homes by 2025 will not be met. 

“Project Gigabit was originally billed as a ‘rocket boost’ to the nation’s broadband when launched by Boris Johnson two years ago. Worryingly, the target is now described as an ambition by the regulator, rather than a commitment.

“Fast and reliable broadband is more important than ever and if it’s serious about levelling up, the Government must stop this promise fizzling out. It should also be looking to raise the bar on standards and challenging providers to do the same.

“The increase in full fibre coverage to over half the country is to be welcomed, but more work must be done to bring the thousands of properties without a basic service in from the cold.   

“With our growing digital demands, the 10Mb speed currently defined as ‘decent’ is no longer fit for purpose and superfast downloads of at least 30Mb should become the new minimum. This would also put pressure on the industry to prioritise the areas of the country currently unable to get these speeds.

“Ofcom must ensure that it works with providers to make consumers aware of the speeds available in their area so they can benefit. Faster packages must also be affordable to prevent a growing digital divide.”

For more information and to access the findings, read the full report or use the interactive report.

Chris Price
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