Full Fibre Broadband Boom in the UK: Ofcom Reveals

April 1st, 2024
Full Fibre Broadband Boom in the UK: Ofcom Reveals

Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, has released its latest Connected Nations report, highlighting the significant progress made in full-fibre broadband access nationwide. The report provides valuable insights into the state of the UK's broadband landscape and the impact of high-speed internet connectivity on remote working, digital inclusion, and the economy. As the UK continues to prioritise the rollout of full-fibre infrastructure, Ofcom's findings underscore the transformative potential of this technology in shaping the country's digital future.

How many UK homes now have access to full-fibre broadband according to Ofcom?

According to Ofcom's Connected Nations report, the number of UK homes with access to full-fibre broadband has increased substantially:

  • As of September 2022, 12.4 million UK homes (42% of all households) now have access to full-fibre broadband.
  • This represents a significant increase from the previous year, with a 4.3 million (53%) rise in the number of homes able to connect to full-fibre networks.
  • The growth in full-fibre coverage is attributed to the collaborative efforts of broadband providers, government initiatives, and the increasing demand for high-speed internet.

The rapid expansion of full-fibre access is a testament to the UK's commitment to improving its digital infrastructure. The government has set ambitious targets for nationwide full-fibre coverage, aiming to reach at least 85% of premises by 2025. Ofcom's report indicates that the country is making steady progress towards this goal, with the cooperation of industry stakeholders playing a crucial role in accelerating the rollout.

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of reliable, high-speed internet connectivity. With millions of people working from home and relying on digital services for education, healthcare, and entertainment, the demand for full-fibre broadband has never been higher. Ofcom's findings highlight the resilience and adaptability of the UK's broadband infrastructure in meeting this surge in demand, while also exposing the areas that require further attention and investment.

How many UK homes now have access to full-fibre broadband according to Ofcom

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What is the significance of Ofcom's Connected Nations report for UK broadband?

Ofcom's Connected Nations report is a crucial document that provides a comprehensive overview of the UK's broadband landscape. Its significance lies in several key areas:

Benchmarking progress: The report serves as a benchmark for measuring the progress made in broadband access, speeds, and reliability across the UK. It helps policymakers, industry stakeholders, and the public understand the current state of the nation's digital infrastructure and identify areas for improvement. By tracking key metrics such as full-fibre coverage, average broadband speeds, and network reliability, the report provides a clear picture of the UK's broadband performance over time.

  1. Identifying gaps and disparities: The Connected Nations report highlights regional disparities and gaps in connectivity, drawing attention to the areas that are lagging behind in terms of broadband access and quality. By analysing data on broadband coverage and speeds at a granular level, the report identifies the specific locations and demographics that are most affected by the digital divide. This information is crucial for targeting investments and initiatives to bridge the gap and ensure that all parts of the UK have access to high-quality broadband.
  2. Informing policy and regulation: The findings of the Connected Nations report play a vital role in shaping Ofcom's regulatory decisions and policy recommendations. The report provides evidence-based insights that guide the development of strategies to promote competition, encourage investment, and protect consumer interests in the broadband market. Ofcom uses the data and analysis from the report to inform its work on issues such as network access, pricing, and quality of service, ensuring that the regulatory framework supports the continued development of the UK's digital infrastructure.
  3. Empowering consumers: The Connected Nations report is not just a tool for policymakers and industry stakeholders; it also empowers consumers by providing them with valuable information about broadband services in their area. The report includes interactive maps and tools that allow individuals to check the availability, speed, and reliability of broadband in their postcode. This transparency helps consumers make informed decisions about their broadband provider and package, driving competition and encouraging providers to improve their services.
  4. Driving innovation and investment: By showcasing the progress and potential of full-fibre broadband, the Connected Nations report helps to drive innovation and investment in the UK's digital infrastructure. The report highlights the economic and social benefits of high-speed connectivity, such as increased productivity, job creation, and digital inclusion. This evidence base supports the case for continued investment in full-fibre networks, both from the private sector and through public-private partnerships. The report also identifies the areas where innovation is needed to overcome challenges and accelerate the rollout of full-fibre infrastructure.

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Which UK region has the highest full-fibre broadband coverage?

Ofcom's Connected Nations report provides a regional breakdown of full-fibre broadband coverage, revealing the following:

  • Northern Ireland has the highest full-fibre broadband coverage, with 64% of homes having access to full-fibre networks.
  • London follows closely, with 61% of homes covered by full-fibre broadband.
  • The North East region ranks third, with 55% of homes connected to full-fibre infrastructure.
Region Full-Fibre Coverage
Northern Ireland 64%
London 61%
North East 55%
Wales 40%
North West 38%
Scotland 37%
West Midlands 36%
South East 35%
Yorkshire and Humber 34%
East Midlands 32%
South West 31%
East of England 30%

Source: Ofcom

The regional variations in full-fibre coverage highlight the challenges and opportunities in rolling out high-speed broadband infrastructure across the UK. Northern Ireland's leading position can be attributed to the focused efforts of the government and industry to prioritise full-fibre deployment in the region. The Northern Ireland Executive has set ambitious targets for full-fibre coverage and has worked closely with providers to accelerate the rollout.

London's high coverage is driven by the competitive broadband market in the capital, with multiple providers investing in full-fibre networks to meet the demands of both residential and business customers. The city's dense population and concentration of businesses make it an attractive market for full-fibre deployment, with providers racing to capture market share.

The North East's strong performance is a result of the region's proactive approach to digital infrastructure development. Local authorities, combined with support from the government's Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) program, have played a key role in facilitating the rollout of full-fibre networks in the region. The North East has also benefited from the presence of alternative network providers (AltNets) who have focused on deploying full-fibre infrastructure in underserved areas.

However, the regional disparities also expose the challenges in ensuring equitable access to full-fibre broadband across the UK. Rural and remote areas often face higher costs and logistical barriers to full-fibre deployment, leading to a widening digital divide. Ofcom's report emphasises the need for targeted interventions and innovative solutions to address these disparities and ensure that no community is left behind in the digital revolution.

Which UK region has the highest full-fibre broadband coverage

How does full-fibre broadband availability impact remote working in the UK?

The availability of full-fibre broadband has a significant impact on remote working in the UK:

  1. Reliable connectivity: Full-fibre broadband provides a stable and reliable internet connection, which is essential for remote workers who depend on video conferencing, cloud-based applications, and remote access to company networks. With full-fibre, remote workers can experience seamless connectivity, reducing the risk of disruptions and enabling them to work efficiently from anywhere.
  2. Increased productivity: Full-fibre broadband offers faster download and upload speeds, allowing remote workers to quickly transfer large files, collaborate in real-time, and access resources without delays. This enhanced connectivity eliminates the frustrations associated with slow and unreliable internet, enabling remote workers to focus on their tasks and maximise their productivity.
  3. Flexibility and work-life balance: The widespread availability of full-fibre broadband empowers more people to work remotely, providing greater flexibility and improving work-life balance. With reliable, high-speed internet at home, individuals can easily integrate work and personal responsibilities, reducing commuting time and costs. This flexibility is particularly valuable in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, where remote working has become a necessity for many.
  4. Digital inclusion: Full-fibre broadband availability plays a crucial role in promoting digital inclusion, ensuring that remote workers from all backgrounds and locations have access to the same opportunities. By bridging the digital divide, full-fibre enables individuals in rural and underserved areas to participate fully in the remote work economy, reducing geographical barriers to employment.
  5. Business continuity: The resilience and reliability of full-fibre networks are vital for ensuring business continuity in the face of disruptions. With full-fibre broadband, businesses can maintain operations and support remote working even during challenging times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to seamlessly transition to remote work helps businesses remain agile, adaptable, and competitive in an ever-changing landscape.
  6. Innovation and collaboration: Full-fibre broadband opens up new possibilities for innovation and collaboration in remote working. With high-speed, low-latency connectivity, remote workers can leverage advanced technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, real-time data analysis, and artificial intelligence to enhance their work. Full-fibre also enables seamless collaboration across geographically dispersed teams, fostering creativity, knowledge sharing, and problem-solving.
Impact Description
Reliable connectivity Stable and uninterrupted internet connection seamless remote work
Increased productivity Faster speeds for efficient file transf real-time collaboration, and resource access
Flexibility and work-life balance Greater ability to work from anywhere, redu commuting and improving work-life balance
Digital inclusion Equal access to remote work opportunit bridging the digital divide
Business continuity Resilient networks supporting remote work du disruptions, ensuring business continuity
Innovation and collaboration Leveraging advanced technologies and seam collaboration for enhanced remote work

As the UK continues to embrace remote working as a new normal, the availability of full-fibre broadband will be a critical enabler. Ofcom's report underscores the importance of accelerating full-fibre deployment to ensure that all parts of the UK can benefit from the transformative potential of remote working. By investing in full-fibre infrastructure and promoting digital inclusion, the UK can create a more resilient, flexible, and productive workforce, driving economic growth and social well-being in the process.

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How Do Upload and Download Speeds Compare Across Different UK Broadband Packages?

The table below shows the speeds of different internet packages in the UK in March 2022. It compares download and upload average speeds for full fibre, cable, FTTC, and ADSL connections. Full fibre gives the fastest speeds, with TalkTalk's 500 Mbit/s FTTP service leading. Virgin Media's cable packages offer various download speeds, with the 1.1 Gbit/s service being the fastest. FTTC has moderate speeds, while ADSL2+ is the slowest overall. This data helps people choose a suitable broadband package.

Broadband Package Average Download Speed (Mbit/s) Average Upload Speed (Mbit/s) Connection Type
TalkTalk 500 Mbit/s FTTP 451.6 73.0 Full fibre
BT 300 Mbit/s FTTP 303.9 51.4 Full fibre
TalkTalk 150 Mbit/s FTTP 159.9 Full fibre
Sky 145 Mbit/s FTTP 150.2 24.0 Full fibre
BT 145 Mbit/s FTTP 148.7 30.7 Full fibre
TalkTalk 67 Mbit/s FTTP 80.0 Full fibre
Virgin 1.1 Gbit/s cable 1137.5 51.2 Cable
Virgin 516 Mbit/s cable 540.7 36.5 Cable
Virgin 362 Mbit/s cable 380.3 36.4 Cable
Virgin 213 Mbit/s cable 217.9 20.9 Cable
Virgin 108 Mbit/s cable 110.8 10.0 Cable
TalkTalk 67 Mbit/s FTTC 63.0 18.2 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
BT 67 Mbit/s FTTC 62.7 18.3 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
Plusnet 66 Mbit/s FTTC 63.2 17.9 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
Vodafone 63 Mbit/s FTTC 64.5 17.8 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
Sky 59 Mbit/s FTTC 64.3 18.2 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
BT 50 Mbit/s FTTC 48.5 9.3 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
TalkTalk 38 Mbit/s FTTC 36.6 8.7 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
Plusnet 36 Mbit/s FTTC 35.9 9.1 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
BT 36 Mbit/s FTTC 33.1 6.6 Fibre-to-the-cabinet
ADSL2+ 12.4 0.9 ADSL

Source: Ofcom

How Do Upload and Download Speeds Compare Across Different UK Broadband Packages

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How Do Download Speeds Vary Throughout the Day for Different UK Broadband Packages?

1.1 Gbit/s cable(gigabit broadband) and 145 Mbit/s full fibre packages have the highest speeds all day. The 1.1 Gbit/s cable has the most significant speed difference between its highest and lowest speeds.

FTTC packages like 50 Mbit/s and 59 Mbit/s show less speed change during the day than faster packages but slow down a bit during peak hours.

ADSL2+ has the slowest speeds overall with minor changes, likely due to its older technology and lower capacity.

This data helps consumers understand how different home broadband packages perform at various times, aiding them in choosing a provider based on their needs. It includes average maximum, 24-hour, peak-time (8-10pm), and minimum speeds experienced by users.

Broadband Package Average Maximum Speed (Mbit/s) Average 24-hour Speed (Mbit/s) Average 8-10pm Peak-time S (Mbit/s) Average Minimum Speed (Mbit/s)
ADSL2+ 12.9 12.4 11.8 10.3
36-38 Mbit/s FTTC 36.1 35.0 34.3 31.1
50 Mbit/s FTTC 49.3 48.5 47.5 44.9
59 Mbit/s FTTC 63.7 62.8 61.7 56.6
66-67 Mbit/s FTTC 68.2 67.2 66.8 62.0
108 Mbit/s cable 111.7 109.9 108.9 105.0
213 Mbit/s cable 219.9 217.2 216.9 209.4
362 Mbit/s cable 384.5 380.7 378.6 357.3
516 Mbit/s cable 548.5 540.7 526.3 479.3
1.1 Gbit/s cable 1139.8 1137.5 1134.8 1135.6
145 Mbit/s full fibre 149.4 148.7 147.9 141.9

source: Ofcom and SamKnows

Who Are the Top 10 Full Fibre Broadband Providers in the UK?

The UK's broadband landscape is rapidly evolving, with more providers offering full fibre broadband services to meet the growing demand for high-speed, reliable internet connections. Full fibre broadband, also known as Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), provides a direct fibre optic connection from the provider's network to the user's home, enabling faster and more consistent speeds compared to other broadband technologies.

Here are the top 10 full fibre broadband providers in the UK:

  1. BT: BT is one of the largest full fibre broadband providers in the UK, offering a range of FTTP packages with internet speeds up to 900 Mbit/s.
  2. Virgin Media: While primarily known for its cable broadband services, Virgin Media also offers full fibre packages in select areas, with speeds up to 1 Gbit/s.
  3. Hyperoptic: Hyperoptic broadband is a full fibre specialist, providing ultrafast broadband services to many UK cities and towns, with speeds ranging from 50 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s. They are known for their excellent customer service, with high ratings for reliability and support.
  4. Gigaclear: Focused on rural areas, Gigaclear offers full fibre broadband to homes and businesses in harder-to-reach locations, with packages offering speeds up to 900 Mbit/s.
  5. CityFibre: CityFibre is an infrastructure provider that works with various ISPs to deliver full fibre broadband services across the UK, with speeds up to 1 Gbit/s.
  6. Openreach: Openreach, a subsidiary of BT, is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the UK's digital network infrastructure. They work with numerous ISPs to provide full fibre broadband access.
  7. Sky: Sky offers full fibre broadband packages through its partnership with Openreach, with speeds up to 900 Mbit/s.
  8. TalkTalk: TalkTalk provides full fibre broadband services using Openreach's network, offering a range of packages with speeds up to 900 Mbit/s.
  9. Vodafone: Vodafone has expanded its broadband offerings to include full fibre packages, with speeds up to 900 Mbit/s in selected areas.
  10. EE: EE, a subsidiary of BT, offers full fibre broadband packages with speeds up to 900 Mbit/s, utilising Openreach's growing FTTP network.

As shown in the tables above, full fibre broadband packages consistently deliver higher download speeds compared to other broadband technologies, such as cable and FTTC. The data also highlights the stability of full fibre connections, with minimal variations in speed across different times of the day.

Who Are the Top 10 Full Fibre Broadband Providers in the UK

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How Do ADSL2+ and FTTC Download Speeds Compare Between Urban and Rural Areas in the UK?

For ADSL2+ connections, urban areas experience higher speeds compared to rural broadband. The median average download speed in urban locations is 16.5 Mbit/s, while rural areas see a median average speed of just 6.2 Mbit/s. This disparity highlights the challenges faced by rural communities in accessing high-quality broadband services over older ADSL technologies.

In contrast, FTTC connections offer significantly better performance in both urban and rural settings. Urban FTTC median average download speeds reach 51.1 Mbit/s, providing a substantial improvement over ADSL2+. Rural FTTC speeds, while lower than urban areas, still achieve a median average of 45.2 Mbit/s, demonstrating the effectiveness of fibre-based technologies in enhancing broadband speeds across different geographies.

The chart also presents data on average maximum, 24-hour, and 8-10pm peak-time speeds for each category. These metrics provide insights into the consistency and reliability of broadband performance throughout the day.

As the UK continues to roll out full fibre broadband infrastructure, it is expected that the speed disparities between urban and rural areas will further diminish, enabling more consistent access to high-speed internet services across the country.

Area Connection Type Average Maximum Speed (Mbit/s) Average 24-hour Speed (Mbit/s) Average 8-10pm Peak-time S (Mbit/s) Average Minimum Speed (Mbit/s)
Urban ADSL2+ 16.5 16.2 15.6 14.6
Rural ADSL2+ 6.2 6.0 6.0 4.8
Urban FTTC 51.1 50.5 49.1 45.2
Rural FTTC 51.0 50.0 47.5 43.0

source: Ofcom and SamKnows

5G vs Full Fibre (FTTP) Broadband: Which Is Better for Your Home Internet?

When it comes to choosing a broadband connection for your home, two of the most advanced technologies available are 5G and Full Fibre (FTTP). While both offer high-speed internet access, they differ in terms of their underlying technology, performance, cost, and best use cases.

The following table provides a comprehensive comparison of 5G and Full Fibre broadband across various aspects:

Aspect 5G Full Fibre (FTTP)
Technology Type Wireless (Radio Waves) Wired (Optic Cables)
Theoretical Speed Up to 20Gbps down, 10Gbps up Up to 100Gbps
Typical Speed 77-205.5Mbps (varies by provider) 40Mbps-1Gbps (can exceed 5G speeds)
Reach Up to 300 metres from cell station Up to 70 kilometres
Response Time Slightly slower than Fibre Faster than 5G
Installation Complexity Easier, Quick rollout Expensive and slow to install
Cost to Consumer Generally cheaper than Fibre Higher than 5G
Operational Cost Higher than Fibre Lower than 5G
Security Currently more vulnerable to security brea Less susceptible to environmental damage, im to electromagnetic interference
Best Use Cases Areas without fibre infrastructure, quick s required High-speed requirements, reliable and consis connection needed

source: Ofcom

As shown in the table, 5G mobile broadband relies on wireless radio waves to transmit data, while Full Fibre uses optic cables for a wired connection. Although 5G can theoretically achieve speeds up to 20Gbps, typical speeds range from 77-205.5Mbps, depending on the provider. Full Fibre, on the other hand, offers speeds between 40Mbps and 1Gbps, with the potential to exceed 5G performance.

One advantage of 5G is its easier and quicker installation process, making it suitable for areas without existing fibre infrastructure. However, Full Fibre provides a more reliable and consistent connection, with faster response times and lower latency, making it ideal for households with high-speed requirements.

In terms of cost, 5G is generally cheaper for consumers but has higher operational costs compared to Full Fibre. Security is another consideration, as 5G networks are currently more vulnerable to security breaches, while Full Fibre is less susceptible to environmental damage and immune to electromagnetic interference.

5G vs Full Fibre (FTTP) Broadband: Which Is Better for Your Home Internet

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between full-fibre and superfast broadband?

Full-fibre broadband, also known as Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), delivers internet connectivity directly to homes and businesses using fibre optic cables. It offers faster speeds, lower latency, and more reliable connections compared to superfast broadband, which relies on a combination of fibre and copper cables. Full-fibre is capable of providing gigabit speeds (1000 Mbps), while superfast broadband typically offers speeds between 30 Mbps and 300 Mbps.

How can I check if full-fibre broadband is available in my area?

You can check the availability of full-fibre broadband in your area by using Ofcom's postcode checker tool on their website or by contacting your local broadband providers directly. The postcode checker will provide information on the types of broadband available in your area, including full-fibre, along with the estimated speeds and the providers offering the service.

What are Ofcom's future targets for broadband coverage in the UK?

Ofcom has set ambitious targets for broadband coverage in the UK, aligning with the government's vision of a gigabit-capable future. The regulator aims to see full-fibre broadband available to at least 85% of UK premises by 2025, with the ultimate goal of achieving nationwide coverage as soon as possible. Ofcom is working closely with the government, industry stakeholders, and local authorities to remove barriers to deployment, encourage investment, and accelerate the rollout of full-fibre networks.

How has the pandemic influenced broadband usage and traffic in the UK?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on broadband usage and traffic in the UK. With millions of people working from home, relying on digital services for education, healthcare, and entertainment, the demand for reliable, high-speed internet connectivity has soared. Ofcom's report highlights the resilience of the UK's broadband networks in handling this surge in demand, with providers investing in capacity upgrades and optimising their networks to ensure a smooth experience for users.

What initiatives are in place to support the rollout of full-fibre broadband in rural areas?

Several initiatives have been launched to support the rollout of full-fibre broadband in rural areas, where the commercial viability of deployment is often challenging. The government's Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) program provides funding to help connect rural communities to gigabit-capable broadband. Additionally, the Shared Rural Network (SRN) initiative aims to improve mobile coverage in rural areas, complementing the rollout of fixed broadband infrastructure. Ofcom also works with industry stakeholders to explore innovative solutions, such as using fixed wireless access (FWA) and satellite broadband, to bridge the connectivity gap in hard-to-reach areas.

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