Eight million UK households can get full fibre broadband

Optical fiber
(Image credit: Pixabay)

More than eight million households in the UK now have access to full fibre broadband, while half of all properties can now receive a 5G service from at least one mobile operator, according to Ofcom.

The regulator’s annual ‘Connected Nations’ report showed that three million homes were connected over the past 12 months, with 750,000 taking advantage. This means the number of properties actively taking a fibre service now stands at two million – or one quarter of all premises passed.

Ofcom says it hopes that many of the estimated 7.4 million broadband subscribers out of contract will upgrade to a full fibre contact, potentially at no extra cost, with recent legislation that makes it easier then possible to change provider encouraging people to shop around.

UK fibre broadband

Openreach has so far connected six million premises, while others such as CityFibre and Virgin Media are also rolling out full fibre infrastructure. Virgin Media has upgraded its entire network to gigabit broadband using a combination of cable and fibre technology ahead of a full rollout of fibre to the premise (FTTP) by 2028.

The average amount of data consumed per connection has risen to 453GB a month – three times the amount five years ago when it was 132GB. This increase reflects the growing importance of connectivity for work, education, and everyday life during the pandemic, as well as the rise of streaming and online gaming services.

“Many families now have multiple devices on the go at the same time for work, learning and entertainment – and the festive holidays can see a particular battle for bandwidth,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom network and communications group director.

“Full fibre is helping meet those demands, with millions more benefitting from faster speeds and more reliable connections. But some homes in hard-to-reach areas still struggle to get decent broadband, so there’s more work to do to make sure these communities get the connections they need.”

This year’s report is the first time that Ofcom has been able to publish data on 5G. It estimates that the number of people using next-generation networks in the UK has risen from 800,000 last year to six million this year. Although 5G traffic is rising, it carries just 3% of all mobile traffic in the UK with 4G transmitting 91%.

These figures will likely change as more people upgrade to a 5G tariff and as coverage expands.

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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.