1.1 million UK properties cannot get ‘decent’ broadband

Around one million homes and offices still cannot get a decent broadband connection though coverage is improving, a new report shows.

Connected Nationals 2017, published by Ofcom, outlines progress on the availability and take-up of broadband and mobile services, which are crucial to people’s personal and working lives.

But Ofcom is concerned that around 1.1 million homes and businesses, or four per cent of properties, still cannot get the broadband speeds needed to meet their needs.

Today’s report shows broadband speeds and access remain worse in rural areas, where properties are often situated a long way from the telephone exchange or local street cabinet. Around 17 per cent of rural premises are not getting decent broadband services, compared to just two per cent in urban areas.

Ofcom is supporting the UK government’s plans for universal broadband, so homes and businesses across the country, including in rural and remote areas, have the right to request a broadband connection with a download speed of at least 10 Mbit/s, and an upload speed of at least one Mbit/s.

Access to super fast broadband continues to improve. The option of taking super fast broadband was available to 91 per cent of UK homes and small businesses by May 2017, up from 89 per cent a year earlier.

More people are taking advantage on this, reflecting a growing demand for faster speeds. Four in 10 premises have bought connections that deliver super fast broadband, up from less than a third a year earlier.

However, ‘full fibre’ broadband is only available to three per cent of homes and offices, up from two per cent a year earlier.

People can check whether their mobile reception and home broadband connections are working as well as they could using the Ofcom Mobile and Broadband Checker app. The app will explain any problems and will help people to find out the strength of signal offered by different providers in certain areas - helping them to choose the mobile provider that meets their needs.

While figures show improvements in the number of people with a ‘decent’ signal, Ofcom is calling for further investment from mobile providers to improve courage.

Steve Unger, chief technology officer at Ofcom, said: “Broadband coverage is improving, but our findings show there’s still urgent work required before people and businesses get the services they need.

“Everyone should have good access to the internet, wherever they live and work. So we are supporting plans for universal broadband, and promoting investment in full-fibre technology that can provide ultrafast, reliable connections.

“With all the technological advancements we’ve seen in recent years, people shouldn’t have to second guess where they can and can’t get decent mobile reception. The public and our economy depend on mobile coverage that allows people to call, text or get online wherever they are. So we need to see mobile companies step up and prioritise improving coverage across the UK.”

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