UK communications regulator Ofcom have provided a snapshot into the state of the UK’s broadband infrastructure, 18 months into the global Coronavirus pandemic.
Ofcom revealed that overall the UK’s broadband networks have responded positively, as they became a critical piece of infrastructure used for working from home, or home schooling, during the pandemic.
Ofcom’s research revealed that now a quarter (one in four) of UK homes can now get full-fibre FTTP internet.
Ofcom revealed just under seven million (24 percent) of all UK homes can take-up full-fibre internet packages – up from 21 percent at the start of the year.
And nearly 12 million (40 percent) of UK homes can now get gigabit-capable broadband (able to deliver download speeds of up to 1 Gbps), which has increased from 37 percent in January.
And the good news is that the UK’s expansive fibre rollout means that the vast majority of UK homes (96 percent) can get superfast broadband (download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s).
And nearly all UK homes have access to a ‘decent’ connection (10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload).
Unfortunately around 134,000 UK properties are still unable to get a decent connection. These properties could be eligible for an upgrade under the broadband universal service.
And Ofcom said that the coronavirus pandemic has driven many UK households to upgrade their package, after it measured the speeds and performance of broadband services at over 2,500 households.
It found that 85 percent of those have taken-up superfast packages, up from 75 percent in November 2019 – before the pandemic led to mass home working and learning.
This means that Ofcom estimates more than two million households have upgraded to 30 Mbps packages and above.
Ofcom found that the average average broadband speed recorded in its research was 50.4 Mbps, up 20 percent on the average speed in November 2019 (42.1 Mbps).
And it found that Virgin Media’s 516 Mbps service provided the fastest median average download speed (490.3 Mbps), while BT’s 300 Mbit/s full fibre package had the highest median upload speed (50.6 Mbps).
“Over two million households have upgraded their internet package since the pandemic began, and broadband firms are rushing to meet the UK’s need for speed,” said Yih-Choung Teh, group director strategy and research at Ofcom.
“With full-fibre networks being built at a record rate, the UK’s networks are being made fit for the future,” said Yih-Choung Teh. “But our figures show work is still needed to get decent broadband to remote parts of the UK.”
Ofcom also revealed that mobile coverage has remained largely unchanged since January this year, with 4G available to 92 percent of the UK’s landmass from at least one operator.
The regulator cited the Shared Rural Network, which was agreed between the mobile industry and UK Government in 2020, as part of the efforts to improve mobile connectivity.
Ofcom’s research revealed that people using Android handsets spent nearly three quarters (73 percent) of their time online connected to Wi-Fi, rather than their mobile network.
This reflects the fact that most people have remained at the homes during the pandemic.
Nationwide 5G coverage remains poor however, with two thirds of all 5G connections recorded in 2020 being in London.
However that has now fallen to 45percent, with mobile operators slowly rolling out 5G coverage to wider areas.