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Ofcom Finds Full Fibre Broadband Available to 7% of UK Premises

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 (9:37 am) - Score 2,822
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Ofcom has published a Spring 2019 update to last year’s Connected Nations 2018 report, which uses more recent data to provide the latest coverage statistics for UK mobile and fixed line broadband networks. The key change is that “full fibre” (FTTP) coverage has risen to 7% (i.e. over 300K premises in the last 4 months, nearly 1.8 million total).

Just to clarify, today’s report is actually based on coverage and service availability information received from ISPs and mobile network operators as of January 2019, which is thus four months more current than the data in their previous Connected Nations 2018 study (September 2018).

The other key changes since Ofcom’s previous report are that “ultrafast broadband” coverage (oddly defined by the regulator as speeds of 300Mbps+) has risen from 49% to 53% of UK homes and businesses, while “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) coverage has edged up from 94% to 95%+. Remember that the Government’s original definition of “superfast” is slightly lower at 24Mbps+, which was officially hit over a year ago (here).

As usual most of the ultrafast coverage will be coming from the expansion of Virgin Media’s cable network, although Openreach has also been very busy deploying both G.fast and FTTP technology. Meanwhile a growing number of alternative network ISPs are spreading FTTP at an increasingly rapid pace (see our ‘Summary of Full Fibre Plans‘), with Cityfibre and Hyperoptic being two of the biggest movers in that crowd.

NOTE: In order to meet the Government’s nationwide full fibre ambition for 2033 we need to see the UK adding about 2 million premises a year.

The improved fixed line broadband coverage also means that the number of premises that cannot get a “decent broadband” (10Mbps+) service has continued to fall. Around 619,000 UK premises (2%) cannot get broadband with a download speed of at least 10Mbps and an upload of at least 1Mbps, which is the specification for the UK Government’s proposed broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Kim Mears, Openreach MD of Strategic Infrastructure, said:

“This is great news for the UK and we’re proud to be leading the build of faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband networks across the country.

We want to be the national full fibre provider and we’re convinced our technology can be a huge catalyst for productivity and prosperity post-Brexit.

We’re investing heavily in our network and people; in communities all over the UK, and we’re on track to hit our target of reaching three million premises by the end of 2020. But we want to go much further, and we will do if the conditions are right to invest.”

Meanwhile 4G mobile networks have seen their indoor coverage by all operators rise over the same period from 77% to 78% and geographic coverage from all operators has gone from 66% to 67%.

January 2019 Coverage Data

The following table summarises the latest mobile and fixed broadband coverage figures for the United Kingdom, although you can get a similar report for each of the UK’s primary regions (England, Scotland, N.Ireland and Wales) by downloading the full Spring 2019 Update (PDF) and scrolling toward the bottom.

NOTE: Ofcom use a stricter definition for geographic coverage of mobile networks (e.g. they measure by coverage provided by all operators, rather than only one with the best cover), which is why their figure is so much lower than those put out by Three UK, Vodafone, O2 and EE individually.

ofcom 2019 may broadband and mobile coverage uk data

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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23 Responses
  1. Avatar Gary HILTON

    Worst service lines fell by roughly 677,000 lines to 619,000, not even enough to change the “Only 2%” tagline.

    Excuse me if I’m not joining in the Handshakes and back slapping.

  2. Avatar CarlT

    Think Prozac is required for some.

    Given the low base the country is working from this is great progress. Long may it continue.

    • Avatar Gary HILTON

      And Long it will continue, 6 years to get to 50% and a Target of ‘Everyone’ in 2033 another 8 years.

      While I do appreciate the ‘low base’ and the cost and the sheer labour required to install it all, What that really means for actual people is for example say a Family in the low end of commercial attractiveness for deployment with a pre school child wont see Fibre until long after that child has left school.

      USO and the R100 in Scotland will reduce the numbers but will also impact other deployments by utilising assets.

      I’m neither Depressed nor happy about the progress.

      Your glib Prozac ‘joke/Jibe’ adds nothing to the forum.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @CarlT

      At least there is progress, will and momentum.

      The one thing that is a little off though is that OR are crowing about premises passed. Most of the Alt Nets are talking about premises connected which is a very different beast.

      Personally I am a bit more interested in the premises connected numbers.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @Gary – I’m sure 53% will not care one bit that they do not have or will not get full fibre soon.

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      @TheFacts, I suspect you are correct that many won’t care that they won’t get full fibre soon, but I also suspect that they are the same people that already have superfast broadband available. Those that care that they face a long (up to 14 years) wait are the ones without superfast broadband.

    • Avatar Joe

      Tim,

      The biggest group of non adopters are the >60s regardless of what is on offer.

    • Avatar Jim Weir

      @A_B
      Openreach dont need to talk about the no of connected premises as they are not measured on that front, their customers along care about the coverage scale available to them to resell,
      not being told by a supplier what % of the market they have.

      Alt-Nets talk about customer numbers because they are trying to raise funding or prove their business case – that requires paying customers.

    • Avatar LibDem Dummy

      And here comes CarlT …

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      @Joe, I think saying “The biggest group of non adopters are the >60s” is a bit of an over generalisation. I know many over 60s that make full use of the fastest broadband they can get. However, I also know some that have cancelled their broadband altogether as it wasn’t usable for streaming video or calling family over skype. Their lack of fast broadband isn’t due to their indifference, it is simply due the fact that the only available option is sub-USO ADSL.

    • Avatar Joe

      @Tim: The plural of anecdote isn’t data!

      “Households with one adult aged 65 years and over had the lowest proportion of internet access, at 59% in 2018.” (ONS)

      By contrast: “1 Adult house 16-64” = 91%.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Hi LibDem Dummy / The Facts / CARPETBURN / whatever: how’re you doing?

  3. Avatar Jamie

    Why does the UK always have a mentality the government I mean, to always be punched in the arm and not react much later on. Than other countries do?

  4. Avatar Jigsy

    I am the 2%!

    • Avatar Brian

      I console myself by looking at the area figures, so I’m in the 14% rather than 2%.
      After years of false promises, still waiting to see if R100 will deliver anything, or wether it will be yet another failure.

    • Avatar Joe

      At the rate the SNP are going OR will be build more fttp than r100 if even contemplating.

  5. Avatar ian Cole

    Openreach should be forced to connect to properties as they pass them, OP strung fibre on poles past my bungalow, but they will not connect me to FTTP, even after I offered to pay for the connectorised block terminal or CBT to splice the fibre to bungalow, how does that make sense!!!

    • Avatar Jim Weir

      @Ian

      You can’t think of fibre the same way as a water main or electric supply. It’s not something that can be tapped into at will, it has to be designed out to deliver either GEA or Ethernet Services & originating from the correct location with the correct optic for that service delivery.

      Vast amounts of planning and development take place at Openreach to ensure that building fibre is efficient, but you can’t simply start with a concept of connecting everyone you pass.

  6. Avatar Geoff

    Kim Mears and Openpray are a joke. Where I live in an East Midlands town (not in the sticks) they simply refuse to upgrade my cabinet to fibre so stuck on adsl. To hear her spouting about fttp is a fanciful piece of pie in the sky and probably won’t happen in Kim Mears or even her children’s lifetime suggest they get real!.

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