Ofcom: Connected Nations 2019 ReportSophie James
Ofcom’s 2019 Connected Nations report, released today, sets out this year’s developments in broadband and mobile services, availability and coverage.
Leading the data is the nearly three million UK homes that can now access full-fibre broadband – 10% of all homes – and 1.5 million more than last year.
Overall superfast broadband coverage is now around 95%, which means that the vast majority of homes can access download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s. Take-up of superfast packages has increased by 20% in twelve months, but Ofcom suggests millions more could get faster internet by upgrading.
Despite the increases in take-up of high speed broadband services, Ofcom estimates that 610,000 UK premises cannot get a “decent” fixed broadband service of at least 10 Mbit/s download speed. The upcoming USO directive, coming into force in March 2020, is seen by Ofcom as alleviating this number, with eligible premises (155,000) able to request a broadband connection from either BT or KCOM.
The remaining premises benefit from Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) as a solution for connectivity, with Ofcom deducing that 1.6 million premises could receive a wireless broadband service from a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP).
In the mobile market, Ofcom’s figures show that 66% of the UK’s land area is covered by good 4G reception from all four mobile networks, and that 91% of the country can receive reliable 4G from at least one operator. Ofcom highlights that mobile coverage is starkly divided in urban and rural areas: 40 towns and cities received brand new 5G services in 2019—and 96% of urban areas receive 4G—yet just 62% of rural areas receive 4G coverage, and 5% of the UK’s landmass gets no mobile reception at all.
The Shared Rural Network – a Government/Ofcom/Operator scheme – plans to address this disparity, with high-quality 4G reception reaching 95% of the UK by 2025.
And as this week’s Queen Speech outlined, the continued investment in the UK broadband network and telecommunications infrastructure sets the industry on course to deliver gigabit-capable broadband nationwide by 2025.
Finally, we were interested to note the International Broadband Scorecard 2019, where the UK’s fixed and mobile services can be compared with countries in the EU and worldwide, although it should be noted that these are for geographical areas and number of households covered at the end of 2018. Connected Nations uses data collected in May 2019 for fixed broadband internet providers, and September 2019 for mobile operators.