In its Spring 2022 report, telecoms regulator Ofcom has revealed that 66 per cent of UK homes (19.3 million premises) are now able to connect to a gigabit-capable network. Furthermore, the report has revealed that 33 per cent of UK homes (9.6 million) are now within reach of a full-fibre FTTP connection.
The latest report, based on information from fixed line ISPs and mobile network operators gathered in January 2022, represents considerable progress from Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2021 report. In that report, released in September 2021, gigabit-capable coverage extended to 47 per cent of homes, while 28 per cent were within reach of an FTTP connection.
The increase in gigabit-capable connectivity has been largely attributed to Virgin Media completing the upgrade of its network with DOCSIS 3.1 technology. The increase in FTTP availability (which stood at 21 per cent of premises in a May 2021 update), meanwhile, has been largely driven through deployments by major fibre infrastructure providers, supplemented by the UK’s growing number of smaller, regional providers, Ofcom said.
Despite the increases in FTTP and gigabit coverage, the report also noted that coverage of 30 Mbps+ “superfast” broadband was largely unchanged. England, Northern Ireland and Wales all registered a single percentage point increase in superfast coverage, which remained at 96 per cent overall. According to Ofcom, this may be due to both the growing difficulty of connecting the remaining 4 per cent of properties, as well as focus increasingly moving to FTTP and gigabit rollouts.
Overall, the report found that the vast majority of UK premises are within reach of a “decent” broadband connection, which is defined as having download speeds of at least 10 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 1 Mbps. However, approximately 2 per cent of UK premises (506,000) still do not have access to a decent fixed line broadband service (down from 650,000 in December 2021).
7 per cent of homes were found to be able to access a decent broadband connection through Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), while FWA coverage from mobile networks can provide a decent connection to around 94 per cent of UK homes. Despite there still being a digital divide, Ofcom says that, when factoring in both FWA and fixed line, the total number of premises unable to get a decent connection has fallen from 123,000 in December 2021 to 99,500.