The latest Ofcom Communications Market Report reveals the gulf between those who live in rural parts of the UK and the urban parts. With the current Government target of 90% to have access to a superfast service in 2015, largely supplanted by the newer target of 95% able to access superfast at some point in 2017 it is important to realise that this refers to the UK as a whole, rather than every individual community.
|Area||Ofcom figure on % of premises able to get NGA Broadband||% FTTC/P (Ofcom)||% cable (Ofcom)||Median speed measured by thinkbroadband speed test||Potential superfast coverage calculated by thinkbroadband (*)|
|Northern Ireland||95%||92%||26%||18.6 Mbps||91%|
|South East||82%||78%||42%||18 Mbps||89.5%|
|South West||70%||63%||33%||13.3 Mbps||81.9%|
|East Midlands||76%||68%||47%||16 Mbps||89.8%|
|West Midlands||82%||69%||54%||19.5 Mbps||89.6%|
|East of England||76%||70%||44%||12.4 Mbps||84.7%|
|Yorkshire and Humber||74%||63%||39%||15.9 Mbps||87.3%|
|North East||81%||62%||46%||18.9 Mbps||91.6%|
|North West||84%||71%||49%||18.4 Mbps||93%|
(*) calculated by thinkbroadband on assumption every Openreach cabinet offers FTTC and cable coverage remains static. Includes distance from postcode to cabinet speed estimate for FTTC. Results visible on maps.thinkbroadband.com
NOTE: To avoid confusion, the Ofcom figures are referring to premises that have the option to order a FTTC/P or DOCSIS service, with no implied indication of the speeds achievable. Where we have our own thinkbroadband data labelled as superfast we are working to the EU 30 Mbps or faster definition.
The gulf in availability between the urban and rural areas is well known to those following the broadband story over the last few years and while for example Wales has seen a ten percentage point increase in FTTC availability in the last year, there is still a long hill to climb to reach the 96% target of fibre based broadband availability in 2016. Our estimates for the level of superfast coverage ignore the enabling of exchange only lines, and also the scattering of FTTP that is appearing through the projects, but then some small cabinets are likely to miss out, balancing out the improvements from FTTP.
The lesson to take away from the report is that while things are far from perfect, the situation is improving and once the 95% superfast projects get underway, we should see more use of FTTP, FTTrN and other technologies to boost speeds into the superfast arena.