UK nearing broadband utopia with 99.8 percent coverage

Almost the entire UK can now access some form of fixed-line internet services

The UK has nearly achieved its goal of providing fixed broadband coverage to the entire population, according to data from the European Commission (EC).

The EC report for the UK said 99.8 percent of the country can now access some form of fixed internet services, with 81.6 percent of these connections classed as higher-speed ‘next-generation access’ (NGA), although the EC does not specify a threshold speed for NGA.

This still means, though, that 18.2 percent of connections are classed as non-NGA, with the EC data classing this as low as a paltry 144Kbps. This speed falls outside the UK’s goal of providing 2Mbps or above for all residents.

The data was gathered as part of the EC’s Digital Agenda for Europe scoreboard, and covered the period between January 2012 and December 2013. The UK data is shown in the table at the bottom of the story.

Rapid 4G growth
On the mobile side, coverage for LTE services, known as 4G, rose massively in the UK, driven by EE bringing the first 4G services to market from November 2012, before being followed by O2 and Vodafone last year.

Coverage for 4G services is now at 61 percent of the country, up 253 percent on the previous report, while overall mobile data coverage has reached 98.5 percent. Again, both these numbers are ahead of the EU average.

On the penetration side – meaning the actual number of ends users – the data shows that the UK is again mostly ahead of the EU average, although not for top-end connections.

In total, 43.3 per 100 people in the UK have a fixed internet connection. This is broken down as 34.1 per 100 having a connection of 144Kbps or above, 8.7 per 100 having 30Mbps or above and just 0.5 per 100 having 100Mbps or above.

The two lower-speed threshold users numbers compare favourably with the EU average, but the 100Mbps data is three times smaller than the EU average of 1.6 per 100 connections.

While the total number appears low, the EC said that as a single line usually serves many people with a connection, it does not paint a true reflection of the situation.

“For fixed-line broadband, there is often one subscribed line per household or business location, so that in a fully saturated market the penetration will be (much) lower than 100 percent,” the EC said in the glossary of the report.

The report was welcomed by Ofcom, with a spokesperson telling V3 the figures showed the strength of the UK’s telecoms markets. “We welcome the EC’s findings, which show strong take-up and competition in the UK’s broadband markets. For example, UK consumers’ take-up of mobile broadband is now among the highest in Europe.”

EU table showing UK broadband and mobile coverage

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22 July 2014 | 2:00 pm – Source: v3.co.uk

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