Navigating UK’s Growth and Regional Variance in Fibre Broadband Access

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According to recent data published by Ofcom, over half of UK homes are now equipped with full fibre broadband access. With this improvement, there has also seen an uptick in general access to Gigabit services.

Unsurprisingly, the growth in fibre broadband coverage has seen the UK pass the halfway mark. As of May, fibre broadband had reached 52% of UK homes, marking a leap from 48% as recorded back in January. A 15-point increase over the span of a year deserves recognition, even if growth did slow down in the initial months of 2023.

Notable contributors to the expansion are the larger fibre infrastructure operators and a variety of smaller, regional and community-based organisations across the UK. Both contribute to the overall growth, showcasing the importance of collaboration in this space.

However, there are regional discrepancies within the UK. At the high-end of the market, Northern Ireland boasts a coverage of 90%. Conversely, Scotland lags slightly behind, with 49% coverage.

Adding to the ongoing effort is the pursuit of increasing the general market’s access to Gigabit-capable broadband. Of this, approximately 75% of UK homes, or nearly 22.4 million, are currently capable of accessing Gigabit broadband. This number has seen an uptick from 73%, or 21.9 million at the start of the year.

Despite recognising this fast-paced expansion, Ofcom foresees challenges with these numbers. Peter Ames, a broadband expert at the UK price comparison site Broadband Genie, cautions that the current rate of progress may not meet the target of reaching 85% of UK homes by 2025.

“With our growing digital demands, the 10Mb speed currently defined as ‘decent’ is no longer fit for purpose and superfast downloads of at least 30Mb should become the new minimum,” Ames reasoned. He advocates for targeting those areas of the country currently unpierced by these speeds.

It’s clear that if the network rollout does not progress swiftly enough, national standards of acceptable service levels will soon become outdated. This puts the pressure on the regulator and government bodies to intensify efforts.

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