British telecoms regulator Ofcom has published the latest interim update to its annual Connected Nations report, in which it said that access to full fibre broadband connectivity has ‘increased significantly’, with more than 4.2 million residential premises (14%) covered as of 31 May 2020, up from 3.5 million (12%) in January. According to Ofcom, the gains are the result of ‘increased rollout both from the expansion of existing broadband networks as well as the inclusion in [its] analysis of companies building entirely new fibre networks’.
The watchdog also reported that the availability of ultrafast broadband – which it classifies as a connection offering download speeds of at least 300Mbps – had also improved, with 57% of homes (16.6 million) now able to access such service by May 2020, up roughly 500,000 from January 2020. Superfast (download speeds of at least 30Mbps) broadband was reportedly available to 27.8 million premises (95%) at the same date, with an additional 100,000 premises having been covered since Ofcom’s previous report. Meanwhile, ‘decent’ broadband (10Mbps/1Mbps down/up) was available to the vast majority of UK properties, with only 590,000 (2%), down from 680,000 at January 2020, unable to access such a service.
In the mobile sector, Ofcom said that 4G coverage had ‘not seen significant changes over the last reporting periods’, with two-thirds of the UK’s landmass – an area blanketing 97% of premises – having ‘good’ 4G coverage from all four mobile network operators (MNOs), EE, O2 UK, Three UK and Vodafone UK. In terms of 4G ‘not-spots’, which it described as ‘areas where good 4G services are not available from any mobile operator’, the regulator said that both geographic and road not-spots remained at 9% and 5% respectively, although it noted that picture in individual nations varied significantly, particularly in Scotland and Wales. Meanwhile, with Ofcom noting that the country remained in the early stages of 5G rollout, it did not offer up any information regarding current coverage levels, though did note that it is continuing to work with MNOs ‘to establish how best to evaluate and report on 5G coverage’.