The UK’s telecoms regulator Ofcom has published its latest ‘Connected Nations’ interim report, which includes data based on mobile coverage and fixed broadband availability across the UK as of January 2021.
In terms of the report’s key findings, the watchdog reported that the number of homes in the UK that are now able to get gigabit-capable broadband has increased to 10.8 million, or 38% of the country total, up from 7.9 million (27%) in September 2020. According to the regulator, such an increase had been driven largely by the continued rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 technology to an additional 2.8 million homes by Virgin Media. Meanwhile, full fibre coverage is reportedly increasing ‘at pace’, with 21% of the UK’s premises within reach of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology as of January 2021, up from 18% at September 2020 and 14% at May 2020. Ofcom noted that while the increase in coverage had been driven predominantly through deployments by larger fibre infrastructure operators, it is being supported by an increasing number of smaller providers serving individual communities and regions.
Boosted by the improvements in coverage for these more advanced broadband technologies, Ofcom reported increased availability of ultrafast broadband – defined as offering downlink speeds of at least 300Mbps – which were available to 17.7 million premises (61%) at January 2021, up from 59% at September 2020, and 57% at May 2020. At the other end of the scale, ‘decent’ broadband – defined as offering 10Mbps/1Mbps downlink/uplink – was available to ‘the vast majority of UK properties’, with there being around 650,000 homes and business that still could not receive such a service as of January 2021.
Away from fixed line broadband, in the mobile sector Ofcom reported that coverage of 4G mobile networks across the UK had not seen significant changes since September 2020, with more than 91% of the country’s landmass having good coverage from at least one operator, including ‘nearly all of the premises in the UK’. Both geographic and road not-spots (i.e. areas where good 4G services are not available from any mobile operator) remained at 9% and 4%, respectively, as of January 2021.