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Full-fibre within reach of 2.5 million homes and businesses

Access to full-fibre broadband is approaching 10% of properties in the UK

Nearly 2.5 million homes and businesses in the UK, approximately 8% of the total, can now access a full-fibre broadband service, according to the latest rolling update to Ofcom’s Connected Nations report, with 400,000 properties passed by the various ongoing broadband roll-outs in the first five months of 2019.

Based on the data, which was captured in May, Ofcom said that full-fibre – also known as fibre-to-the-premises or FTTP – broadband was now being rolled out at its fastest ever rate, with around a million properties passed in the space of 12 months.

Access to ultrafast broadband, any service capable of offering download speeds of over 300Mbps – which includes Virgin Media’s cable-based broadband services – also grew at the start of 2019, up 1% to 54%, while access to superfast services (30Mbps-300Mbps) also expanded, although the proportion of properties able to access it held steady at 95%.

The remaining premises that can only access a service of 10Mbps or under continued to fall from January to May, and now stands at 578,000 properties, a fall of 41,000 since the previous report update. These remaining properties will all be eligible to order a 10Mbps service under the government’s universal service obligation (USO) from spring 2020.

Ofcom said it shared the government’s ambition for everyone in the UK to be able to access full-fibre over the coming years.

“We are playing our part by promoting network competition to support significant, long-term investment in full-fibre, giving people faster, better broadband while allowing companies who build these networks to make a fair return,” wrote the report’s authors.

“We expect availability of full-fibre to continue to grow over the coming years, as existing measures from Ofcom and government continue to have effect, new initiatives come into force and companies build on their deployments so far.”

A spokesperson for Openreach – which claims to have passed 1.5 million properties itself – commented: “The full fibre build is the largest upgrade to our digital network in a generation and has the ability to unlock huge social and economic benefits.

“We are proud to be leading the way…but we want to go further, faster and continue to work with Ofcom and the government to ensure they create the right conditions for a nationwide roll out,” they said.

Ofcom’s next full annual Connected Nations report is set to be published shortly before Christmas 2019. The full set of statistics, including percentage figures broken out for each of the four home nations, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, can be downloaded from Ofcom’s website.

Read more about full-fibre

  • The new prime minister made a bold promise to roll out full-fibre broadband across the country by 2025 – but it’s a challenging task that requires serious investment and planning.
  • The Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG) has published research by Oxera to help local authorities understand the benefits of full-fibre and 5G.
  • Virgin Media is betting that improvements to the Docsis standard will enable it to offer gigabit broadband without full-fibre.

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