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Ultrafast broadband within reach of ‘most’ homes

More than half of homes in the UK can now receive a broadband service capable of delivering speeds of more than 300Mbps, Ofcom claims

Ultrafast broadband services capable of delivering speeds of greater than 300Mbps are now within reach of 53% of homes in the UK, according to statistics released by Ofcom in an interim update to its annual Connected Nations report.

Ofcom’s latest figures were compiled in January 2019, and show that access to ultrafast services – made up of a combination of cable-based broadband supplied largely through Virgin Media, Gfast supplied largely through Openreach, and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband supplied through a mix of Openreach, suppliers such as Hyperoptic, Virgin Media, Vodafone and various altnets – increased by four percentage points compared to September 2018

Access to the gold-standard of FTTP, also known as full-fibre, expanded by 1% from September 2018 to 7% of homes, Ofcom revealed.

More widely, 95% of homes can now access superfast services capable of delivering speeds of over 30Mbps, and 98% can access services capable of delivering speeds of over 10Mbps. This figure that has not changed noticeably since September 2018 – although it is down by a third year-on-year – which means that at present, 2% of homes will be able to order services under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) when it comes into effect.

Ofcom noted that the increase in the number of homes able to access superfast services was slowing as the original Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) intervention schemes reach their end, although new interventions using public funding may start to reverse this trend in the near future.

“This is great news for the UK and we’re proud to be leading the build of faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband networks across the country,” said Openreach’s managing director of strategic infrastructure development, Kim Mears.

“We want to be the national full fibre provider and we’re convinced our technology can be a huge catalyst for productivity and prosperity post-Brexit,” she said.

“We’re investing heavily in our network and people, in communities all over the UK, and we’re on track to hit our target of reaching three million premises by the end of 2020. But we want to go much further, and we will do so if the conditions are right to invest.”

“While the number of households which can access superfast and ultrafast broadband continues to grow, uptake of these faster speeds remains the challenge for the broadband industry, with fewer than half of broadband users subscribing to the better services,” said Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch, a broadband comparison service.

“For the third of consumers whose initial contract period has lapsed and who were on regular broadband, they may find that they can actually save money on their monthly outgoings as well as getting a considerably quicker broadband service.

“These faster speeds should allow everyone to better enjoy any streaming services they subscribe to, as well as easily have multiple devices connected to their internet without disruption.”

Ofcom said it was continuing to build on existing measures to support more investment in full-fibre networks, in areas such as enabling competing providers to more easily access Openreach’s duct and pole infrastructure.

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