Million still lack 'decent' broadband despite narrowing digital divide

Marco Green
December 16, 2017

Although Britain's broadband coverage is steadily improving, over 1 million homes and offices still can not get a decent broadband connection, according to a report released Friday by Ofcom, the country's communications regulator.

According to Ofcom's statistics, this figure has fallen from 1.6 million premises a year ago, and once again the divide between urban and rural areas of Britain was stark, with 17% of rural properties lacking a decent service, versus just 2% in towns and cities.

Ofcom's annual Connected Nations report found there had been a decline in the number of households and offices without the minimum speed connection, from 2.4m in 2015 to 1.4m previous year.

Decent broadband is defined as broadband offering a download speed of at least 10 megabits per second, with an upload speed of at least 1 megabit per second.This time a year ago 1.6 million properties were unable to get broadband of that speed.

Ofcom's chief technology officer, Steve Unger, said: "Broadband coverage is improving, but our findings show there's still urgent work required before people and businesses get the services they need". The option of taking superfast broadband was available to 91 per cent of all United Kingdom homes and small businesses as of May this year, up from 89 per cent at the same point in 2016.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) continues to call on Government to make a decision to either deliver the Universal Service Obligation (USO) or take up Openreach's offer to expand services, so that all small businesses are connected to a basic level of broadband without delay.

And now only 3% of properties have "full fibre" access, whereby fibre optic cables are run all the way to a building not just a nearby cabinet and therefore offer better speeds.

Further action is needed on mobile coverage, although the situation is improving, said the regulator.

Indoor 4G coverage is improving significantly, up 40% over a year ago, with six in ten properties receiving the speedy mobile broadband signal.

Thirty per cent of the United Kingdom does not have good enough mobile coverage to make calls and texts on all four networks. As a nation, we are using 13 times more mobile data than just five years ago.

"There is also a clear need for rapid improvement on mobile coverage".

This lack of decent broadband speeds could stymie people and businesses from accessing the services they need to carry out tasks such as working from home.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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