FTTH on the up, but UK still lags miles behind Europe

Ofcom has released the Spring edition of its Connected Nations report, revealing there are now more UK consumers who have access to FTTH connectivity than those who struggle to get a 10 Mbps connection.

In terms of progress since the last report, which was released in December 2017, the number of homes which have access to superfast broadband, 30Mbps or higher, now stands at 93% of homes, up from 91%. While this statistic is moderate for today’s digital economy, what is less encouraging are the number of homes who have access to full-fibre connectivity. This number is now 4%, or 1.2 million homes, which pales in comparison to the continent.

“There have been further improvements in the availability of broadband services across the UK,” the Ofcom report reads. “However, more needs to be done to provide all consumers with access to decent broadband and to encourage further investment in more reliable, faster full-fibre broadband services.”

Looking across the English Channel to the continent, Spain has passed 17.5 million homes with full-fibre connections, with roughly 33.9% of the population subscribing to the services. Spain has the highest penetration across Europe, but it isn’t the only Spanish we’re lagging behind. According to the Fibre to the Home Council Europe, the majority of the continent are ahead. Latvia apparently has more than 50% of the homes passed with fibre at the top of the list, while Lithuania and Sweden exceed 40%. Only Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Germany Croatia, Ireland, Serbia and Austria are worse than us.

Looking at 4G services across the UK, 57% of geographic area is covered by all operators, up from 43%, while 13% is not covered at all. This is down from 22%, but is still quite a large number for a nation which is not necessarily the largest around. Indoor coverage is a bit better for 4G at 68%, but these numbers are still not incredibly encouraging.

For a country which constantly preaches about its supremacy on the global economics stage, harbouring ambitions of leading the next era of the digital economy through dominating the AI field, the foundations are severely lacking. We certainly hope this report has found its way onto desks at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as a reality check is probably needed.

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