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Ofcom Summer 2023 Study – Full Fibre Broadband Covers 52% of UK

Thursday, Sep 7th, 2023 (10:27 am) - Score 3,760
uk map england scotland wales northern ireland

Ofcom’s summer 2023 study of UK fixed broadband and mobile coverage has reported that “full fibre” (FTTP) now reaches 52% of the UK (up from 48% in Jan 2023), while 75% are within reach of a gigabit-capable network (up from 73%) and 76-85% of premises can get an outdoor 5G signal from at least one operator (up from 73-82%).

The regulator’s latest report is based on coverage and service availability information that has been received from both fixed line UK ISPs and mobile network operators as of May 2023, which is thus several months more recent than the January 2023 data in their Spring Connected Nation’s update.

Overall, the UK’s coverage of fixed “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) remains unchanged at 97%, while 15.4 million homes (52%) can now order a Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) service via various networks (up from 48%).

Meanwhile, gigabit-capable (1Gbps+) services are now available to 75% of the UK or 22.4 million homes (up from 73% or 21.9m), which is higher than the FTTP figure because most of the gigabit connectivity has flowed from Virgin Media’s upgrade to their existing Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) network with DOCSIS 3.1 technology – there’s a lot of overbuild between HFC and FTTP in dense urban areas.

All of this work will help to support the UK Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit programme, which aims to further improve the picture for gigabit speed connectivity by using state aid to target connectivity improvements toward the final 20% of hardest to reach premises (i.e. helping to extend gigabit coverage to at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025 and then around 99% “nationwide” by 2030).

However, the number of premises that cannot get a “decent broadband” (10Mbps+) service is currently 428,000 (1.3% of the UK), which shrinks to just 62,000 (down from 68k before) if you include delivery via wireless connections (i.e. 4G, 5G and fixed wireless access). A download of at least 10Mbps (1Mbps upload) also represents the core specification for the UK Government’s broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Speaking of wireless services, 4G mobile networks have seen geographic coverage across all network operators (EE, Three UK, O2 and Vodafone) hold steady at a range of 80-87%. The new £1bn Shared Rural Network (SRN) agreement will eventually start to change that, but it’s a very slow burn.

Finally, on 5G coverage, Ofcom states that some 76-85% of UK premises can now get outdoor coverage by at least one operator (up from 73-82%), but this collapses to just 12-22% when looking at outdoor coverage by all operators combined and that is also unchanged. Suffice to say, there’s a long way to go in order to extend 5G outside larger towns and cities.

Autumn 2023 Coverage Data by Region

The following table summarises the latest mobile and fixed broadband coverage figures for Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland individually, although you can get a bit more detail by downloading the full Summer 2023 Update (PDF).

ofcom-summer-2023-uk-broadband-and-mobile-coverage

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
25 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sam says:

    Only 5 months behind thinkbroadband, well done taxpayer waste government censorship entity

    https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2023/04/half-of-all-uk-homes-now-covered-by-full-fibre-broadband.html

    1. Avatar photo Bib says:

      Some of the comments are getting beyond a joke.

      Many people get abused over the internet and can do little about it.

      Do we have to accept that here, do we have to accept, as in another post, that those who do not check mobile coverage should die?

    2. Avatar photo Phil says:

      How is this comment relevant to a govt entity mandating companies to provide data and STILL be months behind a private company who has to do the legwork themselves but does not waste taxpayer money

      There are already laws against “abuse”. As a matter of fact in 2022 the UK, which pretends to be a free country, arrested people for online speech by a factor of 100x more than the “not free” country of Russia

    3. Avatar photo Winston Smith says:

      Thinkbroadband claimed 50% UK coverage in April, Ofcom are saying 52% in summer. These things aren’t the same.

  2. Avatar photo Cityfibre stopping builds says:

    I keep reading that Cityfibre aim to cover 8 million premises by the end of 2025. However, I’m also seeing reports that they’re stopping, pausing, slowing down builds across the country.

    What’s going on? I’d expect CF to be pushing ahead as quickly as possible.

    Can anyone explain?

    1. Avatar photo Ross says:

      Cityfibre were building in our area, I had all the flyers, I was looking forward to signing up to one of their ISP’s, but then they suddenly stopped.

      I’ve given up now and just signed a new contract with Virgin.

    2. Avatar photo Bib says:

      Some of the comments are getting beyond a joke.

      Many people get abused over the internet and can do little about it.

      Do we have to accept that here, do we have to accept, as in another post, that those who do not check mobile coverage should die?

    3. Avatar photo Bib says:

      Damns, wrong reply…

  3. Avatar photo Spyder Lodge says:

    I reckon that is only 1.2million more homes in the last 6 months which is smaller than ORs build in the period. So a lot of overbuild happening by and to the altnets…

  4. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    How accurate are these figures? I live in small town on the south coast. Zero 5G coverage unless I go to the top of the hill and only 30Mb FTTC (4G is fairly rubbish too). I keep seeing all these really high percentages and wondering if I’m either extremely unlucky, the numbers are wrong or the sheer density of cities makes the numbers so high?
    (We do have a few providers trying to put in fiber but they’ve just done the easy streets and are now over a year behind original estimates they gave with no signs of my street being covered. Not even on Openreach’s FTTP map either).

    1. Avatar photo Country Bumpkin says:

      Not necessarily accurate at all: we carried out a detailed survey of mobile signal in our village and found that whilst 100% of premises in the village officially have a ‘good’ chance of getting a basic mobile signal outside, in reality a whopping 68% of households reported no useable mobile signal outside their premises.

      It’s incredibly frustrating because people – including mast planners, it seems – read the official figures and assume that ‘c.100%’ of premises, ie everyone, can already get a signal: it’s just not true.

    2. Avatar photo Sonic says:

      Not just you. I live in a small city in Hampshire and it’s pretty much the same as you. FTTP coverage is around 13% (Openreach 8%, the remaining I think is Giganet).

      4G coverage is shockingly bad (to the point where you cannot even load simple webpages at times or use a parking app) and there is no 5G whatsoever.

      Around 54% of the premises are connected to Virgin Media’s DOCSIS network. But they will randomly skip certain properties (like mine) on streets where they are live.

      Some places just get ignored from a connectivity pov. There is not a thing you can do to change this. All this while some small towns have FTTP installers tripping over each other. Heck, even some remote villages have more choice than we have.

    3. Avatar photo Alex says:

      “There is not a thing you can do to change this”

      There is. Get the community together, aggregate demand, register everyone’s interest with network providers, look into vouchers and other public funding opportunities, consider crowd funding and self dig options.

    4. Avatar photo CJ says:

      A Project Gigabit contract for Hampshire (Lot 27) was signed on 28 June 2023. Sonic doesn’t need to do anything other than wait for Cityfibre to plan and build their government-subsidised FTTP connection.

    5. Avatar photo James says:

      @CJ – Only problem is Cityfibre seem to be pausing or slowing up their builds.

    6. Avatar photo Greg says:

      If you’re waiting for Cityfibre… I wouldn’t hold your breath!

    7. Avatar photo Bob says:

      The government roll out should be unaffected as unless the government agree to a change as that build us covered by a contract

      which means at least in theory completion in about 4 years(That does not mean a 100% of the UK will be covered through)

    8. Avatar photo Just a thought says:

      Install OpenSignal and start gathering data, you’ll see their maps have many not spots and the data is based on user’s actual readings not just predictions

  5. Avatar photo Chris says:

    As Usual it’s all about the numbers BT Virgin & even project Gigabit are all the same invest in the easy areas where there is already a decent connection to start with to hit their targets. While leaving all the areas with unusable connections till last due to the extra expense. Project Gigabit at least in our area (Lot 4) is now nearly 6 months behind contract sign dates but because we supposedly get 4g we get no help. And because the network keeps getting more and more congested performance just keeps getting worse.
    I won’t be expecting to be in the 85% by the end of 2025 so realistically if you don’t already have a decent connection the best we can hope for is by 2030…

  6. Avatar photo Munehaus says:

    “Fibre covers 52% of the UK”. This sounds like when supermarkets that claim to be “open 24hours” and you always have to check very carefully WHICH 24 hours. I’m guessing they mean 52% of the UK landmass has at least one house that can get fibre.

    1. Avatar photo CJ says:

      You guess wrong. They really do mean 52% of UK homes and it’s over 55% now, independently verified by thinkbroadband.com

      I guess you live in the other 45%.

  7. Avatar photo Mark Smith says:

    I would be great to understand if people re actually talking advantage of all this extra capacity, both in terms of ordering it and in terms of making use of it.
    I suspect the vast majority of people on a decent super fast connection will see no difference migrating to a full fibre connection at this time.

    Would be great to see cellular operators take advantage of all the fibre on telegraph poles to mount small cells on them.
    That would make a bigger difference to everyone in my view.

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      From what I have read in different articles, talking to people, both locally and in other parts of the country, the amount of people changing to FTTP is not that high. what do you mean by decent superfast? FTTC even at the top speed is not superfast, Gfast is a bit faster if it is available and also if the cabinet is close. Saying that there are people more than what Openreach or other network providers want that say they have no need for the extra speed and are happy where they are.

      As I have said a few times on here, I changed to FTTP because of price, It was cheaper to change to an alt net than stay on FTTC.

      As for making use of it, it depends on what people do with it and how many people are in the household. People who are downloading a lot, large files like games or just a lot of files will notice the difference. If there are a few people in the house watching 4K streaming, playing games and doing other stuff together at the same time, then again it may make a difference. But how fast do you go?

      Some people go for very high speeds because they think they need it and then realise they don’t. My other half thought that, went for 1Gb/s, now realise it was a waste of money and have now gone right down to 200Mb/s.

      I have 500Mb/s, but only because it was cheap, I thought that it was specific offer for 500Mb.s, never realised all the packages was reduced, I would have gone to 150Mb/s to save even more money.

      Do I find a difference than when I was on 36Mb/s? Not really, streaming is the same, all my smart home stuff works the same, the only difference I find is when I download files, which is not very often these days. It did come in useful to upload some files to a mate’s computer a couple of weeks ago as my upload speed is also 500Mb/s, at long last I can upload as fast as he can download.

      I don’t know where they would fit cells on the poles here, the top of it is full, they would have to go higher, they would also need power and to be honest, I don’t really want them that close to me.

    2. Avatar photo Ardac says:

      With some of the Government funded contract builds, I have seen figures which sit around the 20% figure for uptake of a full-fibre service within the first full year of deployment of FTTP connections.

      Local research has shown me that there are a whole range of problems: issues with marketing (people dont know they now have an FTTP option); issues with trust (“I’ve heard it all before, I’m not wasting my time looking into it”); issues with demand (rural residents have survived on <30Mbps for years, and some of them are content to remain with what they have); issues with suppliers (I know of a handful of people who have been told they have full-fibre, all the data shows they now have an accessible FTTP connection, and BT are quoting £0000's to 'finish the job.')

      Localised community engagement by the Local Authority is helping work with the more rural communities en masse to work with telcos and Governments to get real improvements in different areas.

  8. Avatar photo LincolnshireLeftOut says:

    Still waiting in Burgh-le-marsh for FTTP.

    Can only get 10Mbps fixed line and 4G speeds are awful.

    Will take any FTTP if it were rolled out but no providers are interested except overbuilding in areas already served with fibre.

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