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Superfast broadband and mobile coverage update

Superfast broadband coverage update

Latest figures show that 93% of UK premises can now access superfast broadband, ensuring the UK remains an international leader in broadband coverage

The roll-out of fibre broadband in the UK has been one of the fastest in the world. Highlights from Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report, published in December 2016 (using data as at June 2016) include:

  • UK superfast broadband coverage (minimum speed 30Mbps) is 89% of premises, up from 83% in 2016
  • average speed customers actually get is 37Mbps across all broadband lines, 74Mbps for superfast lines
  • 95% of UK premises had access to a fixed broadband line offering at least 10Mbps. 

As stated, the figures above are from 2016; because of rapid rollout, coverage has increased even further in the 12 months since Ofcom’s last report collected data; ThinkBroadband, the independent broadband information service, reports that nearly 93% of UK premises can now (July 2017) access superfast broadband, ie, minimum speed at least 30Mbps. Additionally, the number of premises unable to access a fixed broadband service of at least 10Mbs has reduced to around 3%.

A higher proportion of UK premises can access fibre broadband than in any of the other four major European economies (Germany, France, Spain, and Italy) and the UK has the highest share of broadband connections with headline speeds of 30Mbps or more (Ofcom’s EU5 Broadband Scorecard 2016).

BT committed to invest more than £3bn to rollout fibre broadband to the two-thirds of UK premises where there is a commercial case for investment, we have now delivered to over two thirds of the UK. Additionally in rural areas we have been rolling out fibre in conjunction with Government body Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and local bodies. As a result more than 26m premises have now been passed by the Openreach fibre network, making the greatest contribution to the 93% current UK superfast availability figure.

We are using a mix of technologies including FTTC (Fibre to the cabinet), FTTP (Fibre to the premises) and G.Fast (a new standard for broadband connectivity that enables even higher speeds over existing infrastructure) to provide the fastest speeds possible, to as many as possible, as soon as possible and at a price customers are prepared to pay. The UK is now an international leader in broadband coverage.

We’re not stopping here though, and we have plans to deliver Ultrafast broadband for homes and small businesses through a combination of more FTTP and the latest fibre technology.

Openreach

We are making fundamental changes to the way Openreach operates, it will become a legally separate business with its own Board, governance and business plan to further prioritise customer service and investment in broadband. It will continue to benefit from the financial backing of BT and our ability to fund network investment. This will support the continued development of the UK’s digital network.

Mobile coverage

EE, part of the BT Group, grew its 4G geographic coverage from 50% to 75% in 2016, and now passes 80%.

EE is investing to upgrade the entire network to 4G. Hundreds of new sites are upgraded every month and hundreds more are being built to deliver the UK’s fastest and widest voice and data network.

By the end of 2017, EE will cover more than 90% of UK geography with 4G and has an ambition to cover 95% of UK geography with 4G by 2020. EE also continues to invest heavily in innovation, looking at ways of connecting up some of the remotest parts of the UK.

EE’s network leadership was the reason it was awarded a Home Office contact to deliver an Emergency Services Network (ESN). This critical national infrastructure will provide a single 4G voice and data communications network for 300,000 emergency-service end users in England, Scotland and Wales.

The Emergency Services Network (ESN)

The ESN is critical national infrastructure that will provide a single 4G voice and data communications network for 300,000 emergency-service end users in England, Scotland and Wales from 2018. The contract to build it was won in by EE December 2015.

Digital inclusion

Broadband speeds are discussed constantly, yet the number of households who actually use fixed broadband has been stuck at 78% for years, and of these only 32% have taken a superfast service. Usage is vital for gaining socio-economic benefits from past investment and strengthening the incentive for future investment.

It’s important that people have the skills to use connectivity: BT is helping to build tech literacy so young people grow up with ‘tech know-how’ for future jobs. We support the Barefoot Computing Project, which helps teachers gain confidence in the digital world through free teaching resources and training from BT volunteers.

We’re working on plans with BT Sport to bring alive the real-world relevance of tech and we’re operating Work Ready, which gives disadvantaged young people hands-on skills development and work experience.

R&D

With an investment of £2.6bn in R&D over the last five years, BT is the largest investor in industrial R&D in the ICT sector in the UK.

BT’s Adastral Park, Suffolk, is a world-renowned research centre with recent achievements including world-firsts in quantum communications, high-capacity optical-fibre transmissions and the demonstration of the fastest G.Fast copper broadband speeds in the world (5Gbps). Adastral Park will play a major role in the progress of 5G in the UK and it is also home to over 70 start-up companies as well as R&D teams from companies such as Huawei, Cisco and Intel. See article in this edition of Communicate.