High quality, widespread communications, fixed and mobile, are an engine of our economy and the pulse of our society.
They are not nice-to-haves, but essential enablers of our working and social lives.
As businesses and consumers drive an ever-increasing demand for communications, the infrastructure that serves them must keep pace with their demands and needs.
One of Ofcom’s roles is to make sure that the UK has the communications infrastructure it requires. This means making services available where people live and work; call connections being clear and robust; and data being down- and up-loaded at speeds that deliver a good experience.
Ofcom is also responsible for providing clear, accurate, easy to use information. This equips businesses and consumers to make informed decisions about the services that can serve them best.
The Connected Nations Report (previously called the Infrastructure Report) charts the UK’s evolving communications infrastructure, and our progress towards becoming genuinely connected nations.
Superfast broadband is available to more consumers than ever before, with both industry and Government investments driving improvements in coverage. However, 17% of consumer households and Small- and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) remain unable to take advantage of these services. While that number is likely to reduce over the coming few years, a significant proportion of homes and businesses will still be unable to receive superfast broadband without further action.
This section explores the coverage, performance and take-up of broadband. It highlights the divide between those with access to the best and worst broadband. Given the potential for this divide to exclude citizens, consumers and businesses from full participation in internet-based services that are now vital for many aspects of economic and social activity, we discuss the various current and possible future initiatives to improve broadband access for all.
The most important messages are:
Mobile services are playing an increasingly important role in our daily lives. This has created a growing expectation that mobile devices will work reliably wherever we are, be it at home, work, in a car or out walking in the countryside. In this section we provide an update on the levels of mobile voice and data coverage being achieved in the different regions of the UK.
The key highlights are:
Much of the preceding analysis in this report has focused on the availability and performance of the access networks that network operators use to provide connections to customers, either via direct fibre or copper physical line to the home for fixed networks, or through radio coverage from masts for mobile networks. In this section we explore the issues relating to the other parts of the internet connection chain linking consumers to online services.
Access networks now deliver an increasingly wide range of services, not just the traditional voice telephony and cable TV that many legacy networks were initially designed to deliver. In particular, consumers are increasingly using these networks to access a vast range of services available on the internet. These services now constitute the majority of traffic delivered over access networks. As a result, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the quality of their internet connection in addition to the performance of the more traditional services such as voice telephony.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs), often do not have full control over the full end to end internet connection chain to consumers and hence the delivered quality of internet services. In this section we explore a number of topics related to how ISPs are supporting the delivery of internet services over their networks including how they manage the flow of data over their networks and how they interconnect with other ISPs, content delivery networks and the wider internet. We also consider the effect of the performance of the ISP networks on the consumer and SME experience and how ISPs manage the assignment of internet addresses to consumers’ equipment.
The key highlights are:
As we increase our dependence on the nation’s communications infrastructure, the security and resilience of fixed, mobile and broadcast television networks and services become ever more important. This section summarises the major security and resilience issues that were reported to Ofcom over the past year.
Important points to note are:
Communications infrastructure plays a range of vital roles in dealing with emergencies affecting the public. This infrastructure is evolving, largely as a result of the new technology which is affecting many other aspects of our lives. These changes bring great opportunities which can ultimately save more lives in the future, but they also mean some things we have become used to may function differently.
The key highlights are:
There have been no significant changes in the coverage of traditional broadcast terrestrial, satellite and cable networks over the last year. However, the ways in which TV is consumed and delivered continues to evolve, in particular TV and video delivery over broadband networks. In this section we set out three key themes: