Broadband News

1 in 10 rural English and Welsh properties don't have superfast broadband option

The overall UK superfast coverage figures may have 96.33% of the UK with a 30 Mbps or faster broadband option and in England it is marginally higher at 96.86% but lower in Wales at 95.1%.

What these overall figures hide is the variation that occurs and the biggest level of variation is down to whether properties are in a rural or urban postcode, so in rural England and Wales superfast coverage is down at 89.5% versus 98.6% in urban areas. Things get worse as you head into the very obviously rural areas where 1 in 5 don't have access to a superfast option.

NOTE: We have covered the rural and urban divisions before but we have updated the analysis to remove Scotland from this set. The reason being that Scotland uses a different way of defining rurality. Previously we aligned the Scottsh definitions with their closest England and Wales ONS definition but now that coverage levels are edging closer to the 100% mark we have stopped that merging. 

Area% Superfast Coverage
30 Mbps and faster
% Ultrafast Coverage
100 Mbps and faster
% Openreach or KC FTTP% FTTP all operators% under 2 Mbps% under 10 Mbps (USO)% under 15 Mbps
Urban England and Wales
79.6% of premises
98.6% 72.2% 7.1% 12.8% <0.1% 0.2% 0.4%
Rural England and Wales
20.3% of premises
89.5% 22.2% 8.9% 13.1% 1.6% 4.9% 6.9%
Deep Rural England and Wales
10.8% of premises (a subset of rural)
82% 20.4% 11.9% 17.4% 3% 8.9% 12.5%

The total number of premises in England and Wales is 26,794,267 and whether a postcode is classified as rural or urban is determined using the standard ONS classifications. Coverage and number of premises is based on an analysis run overnight on 4th and 5th May 2020. Local authority level rural and urban splits are available but for brevity are not included. We will at some point May 2020 publish the Scottish figures too.

The good news for now is that the two rural definitions are ahead in the availability of full fibre, but the figures do make it very clear why there is still complaints about availability of broadband services and the chorus gets louder the further you head out from the urban sprawl. We are seeing the lead in FTTP coverage shrinking as urban areas see roll-outs from firms such as Openreach and CityFibre.

The poor superfast broadband coverage figures will have people wondering what was the point of all the BDUK projects, at which point it is time to look at a county level figures, where the rural superfast coverage in Suffolk has gone from 82.3% to 91.7% in the last two years. The urban coverage level in Suffolk in May 2018 was 98.7% and at the weekend when the county splits were calculated was 98.6%. 


Tough on those under 2Mb at present, those rural between 2 & 10Mb should console themselves that they can at least still get out for a good walk unlike those stuck inside in Urban areas.

My sympathy is more with the 20k urban with less than 2Mb and little chance to get out as well. (Worst for the welsh as Welsh rules ( Laws!) are far stricter than English on exercise and travel!).

  • jumpmum
  • 10 months ago

Would be interesting to see the same figures for Scotland, the whole constuency here is worse than Rural England and Wales (83.94% over 30Mbps , 8.75% USO)

  • brianhe
  • 10 months ago

The USO is a joke, having burnt a couple of hours talking to four different BT departments.

USO is not available as: "we don't have boxes, they are in China", "China is closed", "only eligible for USO if we (BT) have already sent you a letter", "scheme is new but here is what it says on my screen". I did call three times, being cut off in transfer once. Dynamic IP only and they can't guarantee nor predict speed.

As all this is done by phone there is no accurate/auditable record of USO enquiries. Not demeaning corona-excuses, but they've had *two* years to prepare. (9 since marking road)

  • danielmec
  • 10 months ago

Very much looking forward to the Scottish article. Noticed while trawling through the maps Vodafone Gigafast has made a pretty big impact in the Aberdeen south Area, would be interesting to see more on their plans for expansion.

  • Swac3
  • 10 months ago

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