Ofcom Releases 2018 Infrastructure Report

The telecommunications regulatory authority, Ofcom (Office for Communications), has released its annual report on the United Kingdom’s infrastructure for internet access - including fibre optics, 4G broadband and satellite broadband. It sheds light on some interesting facts for customers and providers alike.

“People now rely on being connected through calls and online services more than ever, whether at home or on the move. So, it’s important that they have access to reliable, good quality broadband and mobile connections, to help them keep in touch with friends and family, shop and pay bills online, or stream the latest must-see TV series.” - Ofcom, Connected Nations 2018

In general, Ofcom’s report paints a picture of steady improvement - this does not come as a surprise given that both fixed line ‘superfast broadband’ and 4G mobile network have reached a firm level of network maturity.

The report states that, over the past year, there have been some excellent improvements such as;

  • As many as 94% of homes and businesses enjoy coverage from superfast broadband services. This is a 3% increase from 91% last year. For the purpose of this report, superfast broadband is defined as a download speed of at least 30Mbps. This point applies to certain satellite broadband services from Bentley Walker, such as Tooway and Avanti.

  • Approximately 1.8 million homes and businesses (6%) now have access to full-fibre connections (in comparison to 840,000 in 2017) - which can offer up to 1Gbps of bandwidth.

  • 91% of the UK’s landmass has access to good 4G mobile coverage from at least one operator, while 66% has coverage from all four mobile network operators. Within this, individual operator coverage varies, with Freedomsat 4G offering coverage of 79% for home internet and business broadband.

However, there are still large portions of the United Kingdom that are poorly served and could be improved;

  • Roughly 2% (England) / 3% (Wales) / 4% (Scotland) / 5% (Northern Ireland) of premises cannot access a decent fixed broadband service capable of a download speed of at least 10 Mbps and upload speed of at least 1 Mbps. Although, this has improved from 4% last year. Fortunately for these properties, satellite internet is a viable and cost-effective option to be considered.

  • Despite 94% of UK homes and businesses being in areas where superfast, or better, broadband is available, only 45% of homes are subscribing to these services. Similarly, although 98% of premises have access to a decent broadband service, only 65% of premises have an active broadband service that delivers a download speed higher than 10 Mbps. If you believe that you could be getting a better service where you are, be sure to get in contact with us on 02392 311 103 to discuss what options might be available to you.

  • On the flipside of 91% of the UK’s landmass receiving good 4G coverage, there still remains 9% that has no good coverage from any operator. It should be noted that this has improved from 21% a year ago, but rural areas are still badly affected and 23% of homes and businesses do not have good indoor 4G coverage from all operators. This highlights the importance of rural internet providers.

  • Ofcom also estimates that there are 39,000 homes and businesses that cannot access a decent fixed broadband service or get good 4G coverage. This is really where broadband via satellite from Freedomsat, operated by Bentley Walker, comes into its element. If this might be you, be sure to check out our services on our website to browse the Tooway prices and Avanti packages.

It is also apparent that the digital divide is still prominent. The average download speed in urban areas is 51Mbps and 82% of premises have complete 4G coverage versus rural areas which is only 32Mbps and 41% respectively.

However, Ofcom has also announced that they will be auctioning off two spectrums to improve the 4G coverage nationwide - these will be the 700MHz band and the 3.6 GHz - 3.8 GHz band.

This is becoming more and more relevant due to the increased data usage already seen as well as projected. The average monthly data volumes per household on fixed broadband connections have increased over the past year, increasing from 190GB to 240GB. Meanwhile, a report last month from Ericsson forecasts the amount of monthly mobile data (3G, 4G and 5G) traffic consumed by a smartphone user will rise from 5.6GB to 21GB by 2024. This is put largely down to an increased usage of video traffic (Netflix, YouTube, iPlayer etc.), which currently accounts for 60% of data consumption and will increase to 74%, as well as social media (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp etc.) which is expected to rise by 24% annually over the next 6 years.