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Ofcom: Pandemic accelerated UK full-fibre broadband roll out

Paul Lipscombe
September 9, 2021

While 5G mobile usage expands to regions beyond the capital according to latest Ofcom report

Close to a quarter of UK homes can now get faster full-fibre internet as broadband companies extended their networks at a faster pace during the pandemic.

That is according to Ofcom, which revealed in its Connected Nations Summer update that just under seven million (24 per cent) of all UK homes can take up full-fibre internet packages.

The figure is up from 21 per cent at the start of the year, while nearly 12 million (40 per cent) of UK homes can now access gigabit-capable broadband, up from 37pc in January.

The transition to remote working for many during the pandemic has meant that the need for enhanced broadband has been more important than ever.

But Ofcom did add that around 134,000 UK properties are still unable to get a decent connection.

Ofcom group director strategy and research Yih-Choung Teh said: “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.

“With full-fibre networks being built at a record rate, the UK’s networks are being made fit for the future. But our figures show work is still needed to get decent broadband to remote parts of the UK.”

Mobile importance

Ofcom also analysed current mobile coverage across the UK and found it remains largely unchanged, with 4G available to 92 per cent of the UK’s landmass from at least one MNO.

The Shared Rural Network is expected to increase this availability further, following the agreement reached between the mobile industry and the government last year.

As for 5G availability, more of the UK is receiving the latest technology as operators roll out to wider areas.

Before, two thirds of all 5G connections recorded by Ofcom were in London, but the number is now down to 45 per cent.

Ofcom also highlighted how the pandemic has changed how mobile users connect to the internet.

It found that Android users spent nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of their time online connected to Wi-Fi, rather than their mobile network – reflecting more time spent at home.

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