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Superfast broadband available in 73 per cent of UK homes, says Ofcom

A report from Ofcom says that superfast broadband is now available in 73 per cent of UK homes. 

Superfast broadband, defined as any connection that can provide speeds above 25Mbps, is now available to nearly two thirds of the UK, thanks in part to BT’s £2.5 billion upgrade of the Openreach network and the various BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects. 

Around 4.8 million customers in the UK are now making use of superfast broadband, up from 2.1 million from last year. 

Superfast broadband available in 73 per cent of UK homes, says Ofcom
Broadband Britain at a glance – superfast is now available to 73 per cent of homes

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Fibre Broadband and BDUKThe latest Infrastructure Report from Ofcom states that Virgin Media, whose network grows by approximately 100,000 new premises every year and smaller networks like KC in Hull, WightFibre on the Isle of Wight and Small World Cable in the north west of England and western Scotland have also contributed to superfast availability. 

Ofcom’s map gives us a better idea of where superfast broadband is available in the UK. The light green and blue areas indicate high levels of availabilty. Amber refers to medium levels while purple and red signify lower availability. 

Last year Ofcom reported that superfast broadband was available to 65 per cent of premises, raising doubts that the 90 per cent by 2015 goal would be reached. BDUK’s coverage and end date have since shifted; the project now aims to connect 95 per cent of the UK’s population to superfast by 2017

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Superfast broadband is rolling out fast across the country, and 4G mobile will reach at least 98 per cent of the population. This is really good news but there remain considerable challenges, not least in hard-to-reach areas for mobile and home internet services.

4G and the Mobile Infrastructure Plan 

The Mobile Infrastructure Plan aims to ensure that 4G mobile services are available to 98 per cent of the country by 2015. EE has announced that it aims to hit this figure by 2014 and has recently announced plans to launch a 4G-based domestic broadband product in November. 

Based on trials of the technology in rural Cumbria, this could see people in remote rural areas capable of getting superfast speeds ahead of any kind of fixed line connection. 

Independent tests show that download speeds available on EE’s 4G network are not only above the current national average but they’re within the definition of what constitutes superfast. 

Details of things like monthly usage and data rates aren’t yet known so we’ll see how EE’s home service compares to traditional fixed line broadband when it launches next month. 

Super Connected Cities and the public WiFi explosion 

The Super Connected Cities programme will also help businesses in 22 UK cities get connected to superfast speeds and the Urban Broadband Fund will also increase availability of public WiFi. 

Today’s report shows that consumers are also making greater use of public WiFi and that the number of public hotspots throughout the UK doubled over the year to 34,000 up from 16,000. 

The amount of data being sent or received via public WiFi has almost trebled, to almost 2 million GBs (gigabytes) in a month, up from 0.75 million GBs from a year ago. 

BT recently announced a trial of G.fast technology with Huawei, which could see the top speeds possible on its FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) connections jump up from 80Mbps to 1Gbps. 

Combined with vectoring, which aims to reduce interference on the copper last mile of an FTTC line, G.fast could also see superfast speeds becoming available in areas where they previously weren’t possible, due to technical limitations. 

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