UK fibre and 5G rollout momentum continues

openreach engineer fibre box

UK comms regulator Ofcom has released an update to its Connected Nations report, which shows the country is nearing 50% full fibre coverage.

In the previous report, Ofcom told us the number of premises that had access to full fibre had jumped from 28% to 42% over the course of 2022. Five months later that figure stands at 48%, indicating the 2022 rate has been more or less retained this year.

If that continues, we will hit 50% by the summer holidays and be closing on 60% by the end of the year. It’s worth noting, however, that the rate or progress of ‘gigabit-capable is slower, suggesting the same may happen to full fibre next year as a classic s-curve sets in.

UK 5G coverage, meanwhile, seems to be a bit further along that s-curve. While outdoor coverage jumped by up to 20% between May and September 2022, in the subsequent four months that increase was more like 5%. Furthermore the increase in premises with 5G coverage from all of the MNOs slowed to a crawl. It’s also interesting to note how much more reliant of fixed broadband Northern Ireland is than the rest of the country.

As Ofcom noted in its previous report, availability is one thing but uptake is another. A recent study by charity Citizen’s Advice reckons a million UK punters disconnected their broadband in the past year because they couldn’t afford it. If Ofcom’s own research tallies with that, expect it to place additional pressure on ISPs to publicise and offer ‘social tariffs’ in order to reverse this counter-productive trend.


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