Latest UK broadband and mobile coverage revealed

20 December 2019

More people in the UK can get faster broadband and a good mobile signal than last year, but some rural areas are still behind towns and cities for coverage, according to new research from Ofcom.

Our annual Connected Nations report looks at the availability of broadband and mobile services across the UK. This year there’s been further progress, with the availability of full fibre increasing by 67% and all four mobile networks launching 5G.

But the report also reveals more work is needed to improve services in rural areas, where some customers experience slower speeds than those in towns and cities.

Faster fibre networks on the rise

Today’s report shows that, similarly to last year, more than half of homes can get ultrafast broadband, offering download speeds of at least 300 Mbit/s.

And around one in ten homes can now get full-fibre broadband, offering download speeds of up to one Gbit/s. This is up sharply on last year’s figure of 6%, meaning 1.4 million extra homes can now access the latest broadband technology.

Millions could upgrade to faster broadband

The vast majority of UK homes (95%) can now access superfast broadband, which offers download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s. And the number of homes taking up superfast has grown by a fifth since last year, meaning more than half (54%) of homes are subscribing to superfast services.

But millions more could get faster internet by upgrading, without paying more.

Ofcom’s Boost Your Broadband website allows you to easily check which broadband services are available in your area and get advice on how to find the best deal for your needs.

Getting rural areas connected

Although faster broadband has reached many more rural premises in recent years, some are still unable to get a decent service.

Currently around 155,000 UK properties can’t get a decent broadband connection.  This has fallen significantly from 677,000 last year due to the availability of wireless broadband services.

From March next year, homes and businesses still unable to get a decent broadband service will be legally entitled to request one under the Universal Service Obligation, which Ofcom is implementing on behalf of the Government.

Mobile coverage improves, but more to do

In today’s smartphone society, being able to make calls and get online on the move is crucial to people’s personal and working lives. Today’s figures show 66% of the UK is covered by good 4G reception from all four networks, and 91% of the country can get reliable 4G from at least one operator.

But mobile coverage is still patchy in parts of the UK, and there are big differences in the choice available to customers in urban and rural areas.

However, rural mobile coverage is set to increase. Mobile operators have worked with Government and Ofcom on a plan to introduce a 'shared rural network'. This will see high-quality 4G coverage reach 95% of the UK by 2025.

Leading the way in 5G

5G launched in the UK this year, with all four mobile networks rolling out 5G across a total of 40 UK towns and cities.

To start with, 5G will be an enhanced version of 4G – offering faster speeds, more capacity and far fewer connection delays. But in the future it will help to support innovative new services for mobile users and businesses.

This year we’ve seen full-fibre broadband grow at its fastest ever rate, and all four mobile networks launch 5G.

But despite this good progress, there is more to do to bring all parts of the country up to speed– particularly rural areas. So we’re working with industry and the Government to help bring better services to people who need them.

Yih-Choung Teh, Strategy and Research Group Director at Ofcom