Whilst the availability of superfast broadband has improved in Britain, there are still 1.4 million homes in the country unable to receive “adequate” broadband speeds faster than 10Mbit/s.
The regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries said in its consultation that around 5% of UK premises (1.4 million) were unable to receive broadband speeds faster than 10Mbit/s in 2016, down from around 8% of UK premises (2.4 million) in 2015.
Superfast coverage improved compared to last year, with 89% of UK homes and small and medium-sized businesses (25.5 million) now able to receive superfast download speeds of 30Mbit/s or higher, up from 83% (24 million), in 2015.
The average download speed of a broadband service in the UK increased 28% to 37Mbit/s.
However, much more can be done to improve Britain’s communication infrastructure, Ofcom said.
“Mobile and broadband coverage continued to grow this year, but too many people and businesses are still struggling for a good service,” said Steve Unger, Ofcom’s director of strategy, in a statement. “We think that is unacceptable.”
“So we’re challenging mobile operators to go beyond built-up areas, and provide coverage across the UK’s countryside and transport networks. Today we’ve also provided technical advice to support the Government’s plans for universal, decent broadband,” Unger added.
The regulator identified a significant urban-rural divide on higher speed broadband. Almost one quarter of properties in rural areas, over 900,000 homes, are too far from telephone exchanges to receive a broadband speed of at least 10Mbit/s.
Ofcom estimates that it would cost £1.1bn to boost networks in rural areas so they can run at an adequate speed.
The report also noted that while the UK has relatively high superfast coverage, it has a low level of full fibre coverage compared to other countries.
Only 1.7% of homes and small businesses (500,000) in the UK have access to full fibre services. In comparison, Germany, France and Portugal have full fibre coverage levels of 7%, 16% and 75% respectively, while 95% of premises in Singapore, and 97% in Japan, have access to full fibre broadband.