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UK good for superfast broadband, crap for FTTP – Ofcom

Ahead of only Nigeria when it comes to fibre

Blighty is one of the top countries when it comes to superfast broadband but one of the worst for full-fibre connections, according to an in-depth report by Ofcom comparing the UK with 16 other nations.

Superfast broadband is available to more than nine in 10 UK households, making it one of the top countries for 30Mbps, according to the International Communications Market Report 2017 (PDF), which compared speeds and availability across 19 countries.

These included France, Germany, Italy, the US, Japan, Australia, Spain, Sweden, Holland, Poland, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, India, China and Nigeria, Portugal and New Zealand.

However, the availability and take-up of ultrafast services (offering speeds above 300Mbps, in the UK is comparatively low, largely due to a focus on the deployment of fibre-to-the-cabinet rather than fibre-to-the-premises networks.

That is something incumbent telco BT has been repeatedly bashed for.

Ofcom recently reported that FFTP penetration was just 3 per cent, which according to the rankings puts the UK in second last place - ahead of Nigeria, which currently has 2 per cent FTTP penetration.

By contrast, South Korea has 100 per cent VDSL and full fibre, while Japan has 97 per cent full-fibre penetration, and Portugal has 86 per cent.

On mobile, 4G take-up is more advanced in the US, Korea, Japan and Australia than in Europe.

At the end of 2016, half of all UK mobile subscriptions were 4G services being used on a 4G device – a higher proportion than in any of the other EU5 countries, but lower than in a number of comparator countries, including South Korea, the US, Australia and Japan.

Over all, 4G mobile networks were available to over 99 per cent of the population in four countries, including the UK.

Urgent action is required by the UK communications watchdog to tackle “deplorable” mobile phone coverage, the head of the government’s infrastructure adviser has warned.

Lord Adonis, the chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), has today written to Ofcom urging it to address the UK’s "deplorable" mobile phone coverage.

He said: "In an age when access to a mobile signal is regarded as a must-have, it is deplorable that even in areas previously considered to have strong coverage, operators are still delivering such poor services that customers can struggle to make a quick phone call.

"The situation is even worse than we thought. It demonstrates the need for urgent and radical action to tackle this issue immediately, ahead of new mobile spectrum being auctioned and 5G technology being rolled out." ®

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