Full-fibre broadband now available to 17 million UK homes, claims Ofcom

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Ofcom today publishes its Connected Nations report, which details the availability of broadband and mobile services in the UK, including the rollout of full-fibre and 5G. 

Full-fibre broadband is available to more than 17 million homes across the UK, which equates to 57% of homes and is an increase on last year’s 42%. For the first time, full-fibre broadband is available to over half of homes in all four of the UK nations. Northern Ireland leads the way, with over nine in 10 homes (91%) able to get full fibre. 

Overall, 28% of homes and businesses that can access full-fibre have taken it up, with 4.6 million premises now connected. Take-up in rural areas is nearly double that of urban homes (49% vs. 25%).  

There’s also been a further reduction in the number of homes and businesses unable to access ‘decent’ broadband in the last year, decreasing by over a quarter (27%) to 61,000 premises.  

Rollout of 5G mobile gathers pace  

The availability of 5G continues to grow, with estimated coverage provided outside of UK premises by at least one operator of over 85% – a rise on last year’s 67%. 5G traffic has shown around 140% growth, representing around 17% of total mobile traffic. 

Mobile network operators are starting to switch off their 3G networks, with EE, Vodafone and Three planning on doing so next year followed by Virgin Media O2 in 2025. Ofcom data shows that there are around 2.4 million devices still reliant on 2G or 3G networks, which has more than halved from last year’s estimated 5.5 million.  

Commenting on Ofcom’s full-fibre announcement Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie, says:

“There are positive signs of progress in this announcement. However, while the headline stats may be eye-catching, there are underlying challenges and concerns that are still bubbling on the surface.

“The reported 1.7 million new full-fibre consumer connections suggest growing demand, but take-up rates of 28% are still relatively modest. The industry needs to take a closer look at why that might be and uncover the reasons behind this slow adoption. We know that some full-fibre packages can be expensive, and in a cost-of-living crisis, this is a big factor. There may also be a lack of awareness of the speeds available in different areas. 

“Full-fibre coverage of 57% means we are lagging behind other European countries such as Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Norway and France. Further progress is needed to support the nation’s current and future digital demands.”

You can read more in the full Connected Nations report.  

 
Chris Price
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