British telecoms regulator Ofcom has published its latest ‘Connected Nations’ report, updating the market on the ‘progress made on the coverage of broadband and mobile networks of the UK and its nations’ since its previous annual Connected Nations report, which was released in December 2017.
Broadband access featured heavily in the key developments reported on, with Ofcom revealing that coverage of superfast services – defined as those offering downlink speeds of at least 30Mbps – has continued to increase, reaching 93% (27.2 million) UK premises as at January 2018 up from 91% at May 2017. In addition, the report highlighted that the number of premises unable to get ‘decent’ broadband had declined by almost 150,000, with around 925,000 homes and businesses in the UK currently unable to get a broadband service with a download speed of at least 10Mbps and upload of 1Mbps – i.e. the specification for the government’s proposed broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). Also noteworthy was the revelation that more than one million premises in the country had access to a full-fibre connection. In the December 2017 Connected Nations report Ofcom highlighted that the availability of full-fibre services had increased from 498,000 (2%) to 840,000 (3%) of UK premises by May 2017, while as of January 2018 coverage had increased to around 1.2 million (4%) UK premises rated as now able to take such a connection. Further, the coverage of ultrafast broadband (described as offering at least 300Mbps downlink) has also increased, with 13.2 million premises (45%) within reach of such speeds as per the latest data, up from 10.6 million at May 2017.
In the mobile arena, meanwhile, it was noted that less than seven out of ten premises had indoor 4G coverage from all of the UK’s mobile network operators (MNOs) at January 2018; 68% of homes and businesses were within 4G coverage from all operators at that date, up from 58% at June 2017, and 40% in 2016. In addition, less than two-thirds of the UK had outdoor 4G coverage from all MNOs, though Ofcom did confirm that the figure had increased to 57%, up from 43% as per its previous report. The geographic area of the UK not covered by any 4G service declined to 13% at January 2018, down from 22% and mid-2017.