UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has published its annual Infrastructure Report update, in which it has claimed that superfast broadband is now available to almost three quarters of UK homes, while the number of people using such technology is said to have more than doubled in the last year.
According to the watchdog, 73% of UK premises were able to receive superfast broadband at end-June 2013, which it describes as a connection offering downlink rates of at least 30Mbps, while 22% of the country’s broadband connections at that date were superfast, up from 10% a year earlier. Meanwhile, Ofcom noted that in total 650 million gigabytes of data were sent or received by UK internet users over fixed lines in June 2013, representing an increase of 26% against the same month in 2012.
While the launch of 4G networks by the country’s mobile operators is helping to cater for increased demand for faster connections on the move, Ofcom has also highlighted the growth of Wi-Fi hotspots. To that end, it has revealed that the number of public Wi-Fi hotspots doubled in the year to end-June 2013, to 34,000 from 16,000. Further, the amount of data being sent or received using these hotspots has almost trebled, to almost two million gigabytes a month.
Also of note, for the first time Ofcom analysed coverage of mobile voice (2G) and voice-plus-data (3G) services on the UK roads, saying that while coverage for voice calls on motorways was ‘good’, there are gaps in coverage on ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads, particularly for 3G data services. Ofcom estimates that just 35% of the length of the UK’s A and B roads is served by all four 3G networks, while 9% has no 3G coverage at all. Although the regulator expects this shortfall to be partially addressed by the rollout of 4G services, it has, however, said it will carry out further analysis in the coming year to examine whether regulatory or government intervention may also be required to achieve wider mobile coverage on roads.