Ofcom’s Connected Nations shows improving picture of superfast broadband coverage and take-up though 1.4 million premises are still falling behindsamiragazzane
Ofcom published today its annual Connected Nations report, showing progress on the availability and performance of fixed broadband and mobile services received by UK households and businesses. On the basis of data collected in June 2016, Ofcom found that coverage of broadband networks for households and businesses has improved across the UK. However, Ofcom emphasised those premises located in rural areas (including SMEs) are lacking access to “acceptable broadband speeds”.
Ofcom found that the Government’s target of 95% of UK premises’ coverage of superfast broadband services by the end of 2017 is progressing well; superfast broadband coverage (download speed of at least 30Mbit/s) is now available to 89% of premises – 25.5million premises (83% in 2015). And almost 2% of premises (498,000 premises) can receive ultrafast fibre speeds of 300Mbit/s.
However, 1.4million premises (5% of all premises) are not yet able to receive superfast broadband services, with those located in rural areas suffering the most (though the figure is significant, this represents a decrease from 2.4million premises in 2015). Ofcom estimated that, if implemented today, between 1.4 and 3.5 million premises could benefit from the proposed Government Broadband Universal Service Obligation depending on the specification.
Small and medium businesses (SMEs) are however still experiencing poorer availability of superfast broadband compared to residential consumers, with 480,000 SMEs are without access to superfast speeds and nearly 192,000 without access to speeds above 110Mbit/s.
Ofcom also found that the increase of take-up of superfast services is driving greater data consumption, with the average monthly data consumption progressing from 97GB in 2015 to 132GB in 2016.
With regards to mobile services, Ofcom found that indoor coverage has increased from 85% of UK premises to 89% in 2016, with coverage of data services rising from 77% of UK premises in 2015 to 80% in 2016. Ofcom noted however that outdoor coverage for voice and data services (despite progressing from 58% to 66% for voice and from 38% to 52% for data) is “still relatively low”, particularly in Welsh and Scottish rural areas. Ofcom noted that future commercial deployments are not likely to address the needs of consumers in this context.
Ofcom noted the significant improvement of the geographic rollout of 4G services, progressing from 8% in 2015 to 40% of UK landmass, though urban areas were being prioritised by operators.