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UPD Ofcom Report 73% of the United Kingdom Can Get Superfast Broadband

Thursday, Oct 24th, 2013 (10:26 am) - Score 1,460

The latest annual telecoms Infrastructure Report update from Ofcom has claimed that 73% of UK homes and businesses are now within reach of an NGA superfast broadband (30Mbps+) connection, which is up from 67.9% at the last update in May (here) and 65% in 2012. Uptake has also climbed to around 4.8m customers from 2.1m last year (out of 21.7m total broadband connections).

As a result of the progress some 22% of broadband connections are now superfast (up from 10% in 2012), with most of the take-up being driven by services delivered over BT or Virgin Media’s respective telecoms platforms. Similarly the average modem sync speed over this period has also increased from 12.7Mbps to 17.7Mbps (note: real-world performance usually delivers less than the sync speed).

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said:

Superfast broadband is rolling out fast across the country, and 4G mobile will reach at least 98% of the population. This is really good news but there remain considerable challenges, not least in hard-to-reach areas for mobile and home internet services.

We know consumers increasingly expect superfast speeds, but it’s also important to make sure people can connect over a very wide area. That is why we are doing everything we can to support moves to improve coverage in difficult areas such as roads and train lines.”

However, using the sync speed data, Ofcom also notes that 8% of all broadband connections in the UK currently operate at less than 2Mbps but two thirds of these “slow connections” are apparently in areas where superfast networks exist. In other words, approximately 3% of UK households are currently receiving sub-2Mbps speeds and do not have the option of switching to superfast.

sub 2mbps broadband uk

But remember that superfast networks (e.g. FTTC) don’t always deliver superfast speeds of 30Mbps+. Ofcom’s analysis does however indicate that over 86% of current FTTC/VDSL connections have modem sync speeds of 30Mbps+ and over 90% are more than 24Mbps (the latter is the UK Government’s definition of “superfast“). Here’s a run down of some other interesting coverage stats.

nga broadband coverage uk
fixed broadband takeup uk

The report also found that fixed line broadband customers in the UK gobbled 30GB (GigaBytes) of data per connection, which is up from 24GB last year. But breaking this information down we also find that the average data use for superfast broadband connections rises to 55GB (i.e. the faster you connect the more you eat). It should be said that these figures are fairly steady across the United Kingdom but they do dip a little more in Wales.

Separately the proportion of UK premises with 3G (Mobile Broadband) coverage from all operators increase from 77.3% in 2012 to 79.7% to 2013. Elsewhere the number of public WiFi (wireless Internet) hotspots throughout the UK has doubled over the year to 34,000 (from 16,000) and the amount of data being sent or received by consumers in these hotspots almost trebled to nearly 2 Million Gigabytes in a month (up from 0.75m GB in 2012).

One final thing worth noting is how the report claims that the Government has “committed to ensuring that virtually all households benefit from a speed of at least 2Mbit/s by 2017” (Universal Service Commitment), which appears to confirm that the USC was also delayed from its original 2015 target during the last spending review when an extra £250m was allocated to help fixed line superfast broadband connections extend to 95% of the UK by 2017.

Ofcom’s 2013 Infrastructure Report (PDF)

UPDATE 2:10pm

A comment from BT.

Sean Williams, BT Group’s Director of Strategy, told ISPreview.co.uk:

It’s great to see the country’s digital infrastructure improving so quickly. Superfast broadband is now available to 73 per cent of the UK and, each week, more and more homes and businesses are taking advantage of the faster speeds it brings. Average speeds have risen to 17.7Mbps and competition is keeping prices low, so the UK is already one of the best places for broadband in Europe.

BT is playing a huge part in those improvements. We’re investing more than £3 billion to upgrade our network across the UK, so we expect to see even more progress on these measures in the years ahead.”

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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