These reports examine the availability of good communications across the nations.
- Full-fibre broadband is available to 6.5 million homes (27%) an increase of 2.5 million premises compared to last year. Around 46% of homes in England now have access to a gigabit-capable broadband connection. This is a significant increase from last year (25%), although still some way from the UK Government aim of 85% by 2025.
- Superfast broadband coverage in England remains stable at 96%.
- The number of homes and businesses in England without access to at least decent broadband continues to shrink. Accounting for coverage from both fixed and fixed-wireless networks, we estimate that around 0.2% of premises, or around 61,000 premises, in England are still without a decent broadband connection.
- These premises may be eligible for a connection under the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO).
- 5G rollout is underway in England, although consumers are still overwhelmingly dependent on previous generations of technology, especially 4G.
- Across England, 99% of homes and businesses should be able to get good indoor 4G coverage from at least one operator.
- Good 4G mobile services from at least one operator are available outdoors across 98% of England’s landmass.
- The UK Government has agreed the Shared Rural Network with operators to improve mobile coverage across the UK.
- Coverage of faster networks is increasing rapidly. Full-fibre broadband is available to 717,000 (27%) homes in Scotland. This is an increase of 280,000 premises (10 percentage points) since last year and represents the highest year-on-year increase seen on full-fibre coverage so far. Gigabit-capable broadband is available to 1.3 million (51%) homes and we expected this will quickly increase further as Virgin Media O2 has announced it has completed the upgrade of its cable network in Scotland. As well as delivering faster speeds, these services are more reliable than older broadband technologies.
- Superfast broadband coverage availability remains stable at 94% of homes in Scotland. Over two-thirds of homes that have access to superfast broadband have upgraded to a superfast service. We estimate that around 68% of Scottish premises that are able to get superfast broadband actually take a superfast or faster service.
- Consumers in Scotland continue to use more data over their fixed connections. Average monthly data use has continued to grow, and now stands at 446 GB per connection.
- The number of premises in Scotland without access to at least decent broadband continues to fall.
- Factoring in coverage from both fixed and fixed-wireless networks, we estimate that around 30,000 (1.1%) homes and businesses in Scotland are still without a decent broadband connection. These properties may be eligible to receive one under the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). We also estimate that around 9,500 premises in Scotland cannot access either a decent fixed broadband service or get good 4G coverage indoors. Aside from a handful of exceptions, all these premises are in rural Scotland.
- Mobile network operators have continued to deploy 5G networks across the UK this year, with 8% of the c6,500 sites being in Scotland.
- 4G continues to underpin mobile experience in Scotland, and mobile coverage is generally stable. 82% of Scotland’s landmass has access to good 4G coverage from at least one of the mobile operators (up from 81% in 2020) but only 45% has coverage from all four operators (up from 44% in 2020).
- Eighty-two per cent of premises in Scotland should be able to get good indoor 4G coverage from all operators (up from 81% in 2020), with 96% of rural premises able to receive a service from at least one operator. The UK Government’s Shared Rural Network programme and the Scottish Government’s S4GI programme will extend coverage in the coming years.
- Networks have continued to perform well as people, families and businesses have relied on their phone and broadband connections more than ever during further periods of lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Full-fibre broadband is available to 27% of premises (0.4m) in Wales. This is an increase of eight percentage points from a year ago and represents the highest year-on-year increase in full fibre coverage to date.
- Gigabit-capable coverage is at 36% of premises (0.5m) and we expect this will quickly increase further as Virgin Media O2 has announced it has completed the upgrade of its cable network. This includes full-fibre and upgraded cable networks that are capable of delivering download speeds of 1 Gbit/s or higher. As well as delivering faster download speeds, these services offer faster upload speeds and are more reliable than older broadband technologies.
- Superfast broadband availability remains stable at 94% of homes in Wales. But take-up in Wales has increased by eleven percentage points.
- We estimate that around 15,000 homes and businesses (1%) in Wales are still without access to a decent broadband service of at least 10Mbit/s download speed and 1Mbit/s upload speed from either fixed or fixed wireless networks. These properties may be eligible for a connection under the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). This figure has reduced from 18,000 premises in our 2020 report.
- Mobile coverage is generally stable: 90% of Wales has access to good 4G geographic coverage from at least one of the mobile operators and 61% has coverage from all four operators.
- Voice and text services from all four operators are available across 78% of Wales’ landmass. Voice and text total ‘notspots’ account for 5% of Wales’ landmass. The Shared Rural Network programme agreed in March 2020 will extend coverage beyond this by 2025.
- 5G rollout has continued at pace, with the number of mobile base stations providing 5G services more than doubling over the last year, to over 6,000 sites across the UK. 87% of these are in England, 8% in Scotland,3% in Wales and 2% Northern Ireland.
- Connectivity remains poor in some of the very hard to reach areas in Wales. We estimate that around 7,850 premises in Wales cannot access either a decent fixed broadband service or get good 4G coverage indoors. Almost all these properties are in rural Wales.
- More than half a million homes in Northern Ireland (539,000) now have access to full-fibre broadband connections; over 116,000 more than last year. These connections can deliver much higher download speeds and are also more reliable than older, copper-based broadband. Among the four UK nations, Northern Ireland (71%) has the highest availability of full-fibre services, compared to England (27%), Scotland (27%) and Wales (27%).
- Northern Ireland’s full fibre position is a result of a combination of aggressive commercial rollout and publicly funded schemes designed to improve broadband in rural areas.
- Superfast broadband (at least 30 Mbit/s), is available to 91% of premises in Northern Ireland, 2pp (percentage points) higher than last year.
- The average download speed delivered to premises in Northern Ireland is 82 Mbit/s. This has increased from 64 Mbit/s in 2020 and reflects increasing availability and take-up of faster broadband services.
- Average monthly broadband data use in Northern Ireland has increased to 455 GB per connection in 2021.
- Individual operators provide good 4G coverage across Northern Ireland, with geographic mobile coverage ranging from 87-92%, depending on the operator. Coverage from all four operators is available across 79% of Northern Ireland.
- Voice calls are available across 89-98% of Northern Ireland, depending on the operator while coverage from all operators is available across 87% of Northern Ireland.