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Broadband ISP Technology

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Broadband is a general term for any telecoms technology that carries a lot of data (high speed internet connectivity), using a wide range (band) of frequencies, over fixed lines or wireless.
network cable snake
  1. Fixed Line Narrowband
  2. Fixed Line Broadband
  3. Wireless Broadband
 Summary - UK Fixed Line Broadband Statistics (Updated Jan 2024)
Gigabit Broadband Coverage
Superfast Broadband Cover
NOTE: The rapid rise in "gigabit" (1Gbps+) coverage is attributed to Virgin Media's DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade that began in 2019 and finished in Q4 2021, plus the roll-out of "full fibre" FTTP.

The graphs on this introductory page are regularly updated and should give you some indication as to the status of national broadband performance, access, uptake and availability in the United Kingdom.

At present home internet access is primarily delivered over fixed lines and through a variety of different technologies, which are explained in the above categories. Ofcom (telecoms regulator) splits these services into two camps based on their performance:

Avg. Peak Time Download Speeds

Broadband Speed Definitions (Ofcom)

Decent Broadband
Services that supply actual internet download speeds of at least 10Mbps (1Mbps uploads), which is generally delivered using ADSL technology over existing copper telephone lines.

Superfast Broadband
Services that supply download speeds of at least 30Mbps (Ofcom and EU definition), which are most commonly provided through fibre optic and or coaxial cables in the form of Hybrid Fibre / Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP / FTTH) or cable (DOCSIS). It's worth noting that most government (BDUK Phase 1 + 2) supported broadband schemes define superfast as 24Mbps+, while later phases adopt the 30Mbps+ definition.

Ultrafast Broadband
Services that supply headline download speeds of at least 300Mbps (Ofcom's definition), which are most commonly provided through pure fibre optic cables (FTTP) or in the form of advanced hybrid fibre solutions (G.fast, XG.Fast, DOCSIS). NOTE: The EU, BT and most others define the starting point as 100Mbps+.

Gigabit Broadband
Services that can supply headline download speeds of up to or beyond 1Gbps (Gigabits per second) or 1000Mbps+ (Megabits per second) if you prefer. Usually supplied via "full fibre" (FTTP) networks but DOCSIS 3.1 (cable) can also deliver it and so can future 5G mobile connections.

As of January 2024 around 99.15% of the country can access a "decent broadband" (10Mbps+) connection and 97.81% can recieve a "superfast" connection (30Mbps+), while "gigabit-capable" (1Gbps+) networks are on 79.86% and pure "full fibre" networks are a long way behind, but gaining fast, on 60.54%.

NOTE: The figures in brackets (%) represent the previous H1 - 2023 result to July 2023.

Fixed Broadband Network Availability H2 - 2023

Area 30Mbps+ Full Fibre Gigabit % Under 10Mbps
England 98.07% (97.90%) 60.06% (52.11%) 80.73% (77.09%) 0.64% (0.69%)
UK 97.81% (97.61%) 60.54% (52.77%) 79.86% (76.22%) 0.85% (0.94%)
Wales 96.90% (96.92%) 59.06% (49.45%) 67.58% (63.21%) 1.65% (1.59%)
Scotland 95.99% (95.61%) 54.82% (47.81%) 73.73% (69.77%) 2.26% (2.49%)
N.Ireland 97.70% (96.64%) 94.09% (92.27%) 94.68% (93.01%) 1.35% (2.10%)
NOTE 1: Nearly all of the gigabit coverage is coming from Virgin Media's existing HFC cable network, although Openreach, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Cityfibre and others all have big "full fibre" (FTTP) expansion plans. But there's a lot of overbuild between HFC and FTTP, so future progress post-2021 is slower now that VM have completed their gigabit upgrade.

NOTE 2: It's very important to remember that Government / political targets reflect a national UK average, which can of course be better or worse for some regions (e.g. a few may achieve universal coverage, while others could be well below that).

NOTE 3: The 10Mbps USO figure above looks at fixed broadband services, but doesn't factor the impact of 4G or 5G based mobile broadband, if that were included then the gap left to fill would be much smaller (example).

We should add that Openreach's (BT) open fixed line telecoms network, which is used by most of the main ISPs, except Virgin Media and many smaller alternative network providers, dominates most of country's national infrastructure and reaches nearly 100% of the population (with ADSL and FTTC). By comparison Virgin Media's closed cable network covers around 55-60% of the country and is primarily focused on urban areas, but they are expanding this via Nexfibre.

Meanwhile Satellite services can reach close to 100% of the population but they are costly and quite restrictive, although SpaceX's Starlink platform is a big improvement. By contrast there are a growing number of fixed wireless networks (FWA), but these are predominantly niche and only cover specific areas. Finally, 4G based Mobile Broadband services are available to most people and can be reasonably affordable (Ofcom found that between 80% to 87% of the UK's landmass can access a 4G network if you look across all operators).

Total Broadband vs Superfast Broadband Lines
Fixed Broadband Technology by Market Share (Customers)
Data Sources (Graphs and Statistics):
* Market Share by Technology (Ofcom Data Tables Q3-2023)
* Broadband Coverage (TBB H2 2023 Data)

* Superfast Broadband Coverage (TBB H2 2023 Data)
* Superfast Broadband Lines (Ofcom Data Tables Q3-2023)
* Total Broadband Lines (Ofcom Data Tables Q3-2023)
* Fixed Line Broadband Speeds (Ofcom 2023 Speeds Report)

Useful Articles:
* The UK Best Broadband ISPs for 2024
* The Definition of UK Superfast Next Generation Broadband
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