Full-fibre reaches almost a quarter of UK homes | Media Analysis | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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The full extent of the rapid development of fibre-based and gigabit broadband networks in the UK has been revealed in a study by UK broadcast and communications regulator Ofcom which has found that just under seven million (24%) UK homes can take up full-fibre internet packages.
Virgin Media O2 gigabit network 7Sep2021
This was up from 21% at the start of the year, reported Ofcom in its second interim update to its December 2020 annual Connected Nations report, assessing mobile coverage and fixed broadband availability across the UK as of May 2021. And in addition to the dash to fibre, the study also found that Nearly 12 million (40%) of UK homes can now get gigabit-capable broadband, which is capable of delivering download speeds of up to 1 Gbps, up from 37% in January. This includes full fibre and the fastest cable internet packages.

In all, Ofcom calculated that as much as 96% of UK homes (96%) can get superfast broadband – defined as download speeds of at least 30 Mbps - while almost all UK homes have access to a ‘decent’ connection, that is 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbit/s upload. This said Ofcom was enough to browse the internet, stream TV shows or make video calls.

Examining drivers for the uptake in services and packages, Ofcom noted that the need for faster speeds during the coronavirus pandemic has driven many UK households to upgrade their package. It revealed that 85% of those have taken up superfast packages, up from 75% in November 2019 – before the pandemic led to mass home working and learning. This meant over two million households have been upgraded to packages with advertised speeds of at least superfast level.

Take-up of the faster packages was reflected in the higher average speeds households were receiving. The median average broadband speed recorded in Ofcom’s research was 50.4 Mbps – up 20% on the average speed in November 2019 of 42.1 Mbps. Of the packages the regulator measured, Virgin Media’s 516 Mbps service provided the fastest median average download speed (490.3 Mbps), while BT’s 300 Mbps s full-fibre package had the highest median upload speed (50.6 Mbps).

Yet despite the encouraging signs in terms of rollout of full fibre and the higher rated packages, the Connected Nations report also found that around 134,000 UK properties are still unable to get a decent connection, fuelling fear of a continuation of the digital divide.