Two-thirds of homes in the United Kingdom are reported to be able to access broadband at a gigabit per second. The increase is largely due to completion of an upgrade to the Virgin Media O2 network. Full-fibre network connections are now available to a third of homes, up from a quarter in a year. Around half a million homes are still unable to access what the communications regulator Ofcom describes as a ‘decent’ fixed connection, although the number falls to fewer than 100,000 if wireless is included. A 4G mobile signal is apparently available to around 92% of the land area of the United Kingdom. 5G coverage is on offer from at least one provider to around half of homes in the United Kingdom, at least outdoors. Your coverage may vary. Availability is one thing, but uptake is another, as is reliability.

19.3 million homes in the United Kingdom are now capable of receiving gigabit broadband. That is 66% of homes, up from 40% a year previously. This has been driven by a combination of the Virgin Media 02 network upgrade and the continued rollout of full-fibre broadband.

There are 9.6 million homes in the United Kingdom that have access to full fibre services, up from 8.2 million in six months. That is an increase from 28% to 33%. This is down to deployments by the larger fibre infrastructure operators but supported by smaller providers serving individual communities and regions.

It should be said that having access to a service by virtue of being within an area of coverage is not the same as service adoption.

The number of homes that receive gigabit broadband services is far lower. Some may not see the need, although working from home may have demonstrated the limitations of their broadband connection, particularly if the upload rate is significantly lower than the download rate.

Ofcom says that 99% of properties in the United Kingdom can access ‘decent’ fixed broadband, which it regards as upload rates of at least 1 megabit per second and download rates of at least 30 megabits per second. ‘Decent’ is a rather loose term. Whether it is acceptable or barely adequate is a matter of opinion.

It is estimated that it is not possible to make a call or send a text from any operator in around 4% of the land area of the United Kingdom, although that rises to 11% in Scotland. In practice, apart from emergency calls, users are generally restricted to a single mobile network and coverage from a moving vehicle is often patchy.

5G coverage is estimated to be around 47-62% of premises in the United Kingdom, outdoors, by at least one operator. That may not be so impressive if you are restricted to a single network operator and you want to use the service indoors, where coverage is much lower and probably varies from room to room.

Availability is one thing, but adoption is another. Only around a quarter of homes where full fibre services are available take the service. Of those full fibre customers, only around 7% take a gigabit service.

Reliability is another consideration, as is price. Nevertheless, we can foresee a time when adequate broadband will have similar coverage and availability to broadcast services, which has interesting implications for communications policy.