Ofcom report reveals boost for superfast broadband and 4G

Ofcom’s latest communications report suggests superfast broadband and 4G accessibility is growing steadily

Availability of superfast broadband connections and 4G services has increased rapidly this year, according to Ofcom’s Communications Market 2014 report.

The report revealed that the number of superfast broadband connections over next-generation access (NGA) networks grew by 58% to 6.1 million premises during the first quarter of 2014, and the proportion of connections classed as superfast grew by 9.2 percentage points to 26.7% over the same period.

Ofcom’s analysts found the rise in uptake was down to user migration, as consumers sought to support the growing number of internet-enabled devices, and the diversifying number of services – such as TV streaming and VoIP – that rely on fast internet access.

The government’s BDUK programme reached 509,000 rural premises during the first quarter, up from 274,000 in the last quarter of 2013, with a cumulative £58.6m handed to local authorities, an average expenditure of £115 per premises passed.

During Q1 2014, Virgin Media remained the single largest operator in terms of superfast subscribers, holding 56% of the market compared with  BT Retail's 35%. Other providers accounted for just 10% of the superfast market.

BT’s share was up 2% compared with Q4 2013, and other providers grew by 1%, both at the expense of Virgin Media.

Take-up of 4G also continued to grow, with data provided to Ofcom by the four national operators showing that 73% of the UK’s population can now receive outdoor 4G coverage on at least one network.

The data shows that EE was able to touch the largest proportion of the population and Vodafone the least, with Three not disclosing its statistics.

Ofcom estimated there are now more than six million 4G-enabled devices in use in the UK, but this equates to only 8% of active subscriptions.

The theory that 4G users tend to use more data than 3G was borne out to some extent, with 59% of 4G users claiming they streamed video content over 4G, compared with 41% of 3G users.

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications