Superfast broadband is now available in 75.2 per cent of UK homes.
A report from analysts Point Topic shows that fixed-line connections delivering speeds of 30Mbps or above are available to over three quarters of British homes, thanks largely to the efforts of BT’s commercial rollout of superfast FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) broadband to millions of homes and Virgin Media’s upgrade plans making 30Mbps the standard speed and network expansion.
On top of this, the report shows that 91 per cent of UK homes can get speeds of at least 4Mbps. This suggests that BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects won’t have much work to do to ensure that everyone can get a basic 2Mbps speed by the end of 2015.
The UK, sometimes seen as the sick man of superfast Europe, is actually well placed in the scheme of things, according to a separate report from Ofcom.
The telco regulator’s latest European Broadband Scorecard shows that superfast coverage in Britain is higher than that of Germany, France, Italy and Spain – the biggest economies in western Europe, or the ‘EU5’ as Ofcom calls them.
This is only a fraction of the whole European picture of course. Compared to other European states like Belgium and the Netherlands, who currently enjoy superfast coverage of 95-100 per cent, the UK is still lagging behind.
That said many of the states on the graph exhibiting higher percentages of coverage are smaller and in some cases not as geographically diverse as the UK, making delivering superfast connections to more homes less of a logistical challenge.
Generally speaking, there is a trend towards high levels of coverage and land mass. For the UK, which has a landmass of roughly 243,000 square kilometers to have achieved similar levels of coverage percentage-wise to Denmark (which has a landmass of around 42,000 km2) perhaps puts things into perspective.
Ofcom admits that this data doesn’t take into consideration things like population distribution, legacy infrastructure like Openreach’s telephone network, as well as the topography of states, so these figures are at best useful indicators as to how the UK is doing compared to the rest of Europe.
Point Topic has argued in the past that connecting homes to superfast broadband is only part of the battle. The Digital deprivation in England report released in February listed several barriers to take-up, including cost, education and accessibility, arguing that as much needs to be done to promote awareness of broadband as improving speeds.