The latest release of Ofcom’s Connected Nations report presents a comprehensive overview of broadband and 5G mobile service availability in the UK, highlighting remarkable advancements in full-fibre broadband and the widespread rollout of 5G networks.
With full-fibre broadband now accessible to over 17 million households across the UK, representing 57 percent of homes, the nation has seen a substantial increase from the previous year’s 42 percent. Notably, all four UK nations now boast more than 50 percent coverage, with Northern Ireland leading at an impressive 91 percent availability of full-fibre connectivity.
The report also unveils a surge in uptake, with 28 percent of homes and businesses now utilizing full-fibre connections, totaling 4.6 million premises. Rural areas exhibit a significantly higher adoption rate compared to urban settings, with a staggering 49 percent uptake against 25 percent.
Moreover, there has been a remarkable reduction in the number of premises lacking access to ‘decent’ broadband, plummeting by 27 percent to 61,000 premises over the past year.
The momentum behind 5G deployment continues its upward trajectory, boasting an estimated coverage of over 85 percent outside UK premises by at least one operator, a substantial increase from last year’s 67 percent. This expansion correlates with a 140 percent surge in 5G traffic, constituting about 17 percent of total mobile traffic.
In tandem with the 5G advancements, mobile network operators are set to phase out their 3G networks, with EE, Vodafone, and Three planning to do so in the coming year, followed by Virgin Media O2 in 2025. Ofcom’s data indicates a sharp decline in devices reliant on 2G or 3G networks, dropping to approximately 2.4 million from last year’s estimate of 5.5 million.
The report additionally emphasizes the prevalence of gigabit-capable broadband, covering 78 percent or 23.2 million premises, marking a significant increase from the previous year.
While progress has been substantial, around 61,000 premises still lack access to decent broadband. However, initiatives aim to connect approximately 11,000 of these premises through publicly funded schemes by September 2024, significantly reducing the number of premises without access to adequate broadband to roughly 50,000.
Consumers are increasingly transitioning from legacy voice services to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), with PSTN connections now constituting less than half of all landline connections at 41 percent. This shift reflects an evolving landscape where broadband-driven managed voice services are gaining prominence.