Two thirds of the UK can now get gigabit broadband

(Image credit: BT)

Two thirds of UK households can now receive gigabit broadband, according to Ofcom, with 19.3 million of all homes having access from at least one provider – an increase from 37% last year.

Slightly less than half of this figure (9.6 million) are covered by full fibre, representing 33% of all properties – an increase from 21% year-on-year.

Openreach has so far connected seven million homes to full fibre, while all 15.8 million properties connected to Virgin Media O2’s network can receive 1Gbps via a combination of fibre to the premise (FTTP) and cable technology. Meanwhile several ‘alt nets’ like CityFibre are also rolling out fibre infrastructure.

Ultrafast broadband

Coverage is set to expand further, with Openreach targeting 25 million properties by 2025, while Virgin Media O2 looking to roll out FTTP across its infrastructure by 2028 and find a partner for a joint-venture that will connect a further seven million properties by 2027. CityFibre’s target is 8 million by 2025.

Ofcom says a competitive market is driving this  investment from network builders and keeping prices affordable for consumers.

“Our rules encourage companies to invest in improving their networks, and we’re now seeing a real race to roll out faster internet to people across the UK. But faster needn’t mean bigger bills – full fibre packages are on offer for around £25 per month, so you can boost your broadband without paying a packet.”

The number of households unable to receive a ‘decent’ connection of at least 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload has fallen to just under 100,000. The Universal Service Obligation (USO) requires providers to deliver such a connection to anyone who requests it.

One of the ways this is being achieved in rural areas is cellular. Ofcom says 4G is available to 92% across the UK’s landmass, while half of properties can receive an outdoor 5G signal.

The government has targeted full nationwide coverage by 2030 but this is later than the 2025 target originally stated in the Conservative manifesto before the 2019 General Election, while only £1.2 billion of £5 billion in promised funding will be delivered during this Parliament.

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.