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Over half a million homes now using full-fibre as access improves

Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report examines key trends in the UK’s broadband and mobile market, and finds that access to faster broadband is expanding rapidly across all delivery mechanisms

The number of active full-fibre – or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – broadband connections in the UK grew from 320,000 to 510,000 during 2018, reflecting the gathering pace of the national full-fibre roll-out, which is bringing the technology within physical reach of more homes, according to Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report.

The annual report highlighted growth across the broadband market as Brits rushed to upgrade to faster broadband services, mostly to access subscription on-demand video services such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

As a result of the impetus to upgrade, the number of broadband connections using slower fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology also continued its growth trajectory, up to 11.27 million from 9.1 million in 2017.

This means that the number of connections using FTTC has now overtaken connections using traditional asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology – which dropped from 11.49 million to 9.55 million – for the first time ever, making FTTC the dominant delivery mechanism for broadband services in the UK.

Meanwhile, 5.23 million homes are accessing a cable broadband service – meaning Virgin Media – up 200,000 on 2017.

Because of the changes, the average broadband speed received by UK householders rose by 18% from 46.15Mbps in 2017 to 54.24Mbps in 2018. Meanwhile, continuing a new trend first identified in last year’s report, household spending on communications services as a whole dropped to £83.56 a month, equivalent to 3.3% of the average monthly household spend.

As the UK prepares for the impact of 5G networks – the first two of which, from EE and Vodafone, have now gone live – the report also explored access to mobile services, and found that 72% of UK mobile connections were 4G at the end of 2018, up from 66% at the end of 2017. Meanwhile, the volume of data being consumed over mobile devices grew by 25% to 2.9GB per month.

Growing take-up of smartphones meant that traditional voice usage continued to decline, although the decline was, as usual, more pronounced on fixed landlines – mobile voice calls grew slightly – and traditional text message volumes dropped by 6% to 74 billion in the face of more competition from over-the-top services such as WhatsApp.

Read more about broadband access

  • Openreach is to consult with its communication services provider customers on exploring the case for fibre-to-the-premises broadband and universal coverage.
  • Every residential and business property in Salisbury will be able to access full-fibre broadband in 12 months, claims Openreach.
  • NGD, the operator of the largest datacentre in Europe, is playing an unlikely role in helping expand access to full-fibre broadband in south Wales. We find out how, and why.

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications

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