Network deployment speeds ahead whilst adoption lags

Network deployment speeds ahead whilst adoption lags

Ofcom yesterday published their annual Connected Nations Report which tracks the progress on deployment and take-up of digital infrastructure and the services provided over them.

The headline stats are that superfast (30Mbit/s) fixed connectivity is up 3 points to 94% of homes and businesses from last year, with 4G coverage from at least one operator up to 91% of the UK’s landmass. This is steady rather than spectacular progress, as you would expect at this stage of the network deployments. Full Fibre connections, a key focus for Government policy following the FTIR, now stands at 6% of premises.

Around 2% of UK premises still cannot currently access broadband services offering a 10 Mbit/s download – the threshold below which the Universal Service Obligation (USO) would kick in. This has halved in the last year and Ofcom will be hoping to see continued progress in 2019 in order to reduce the target area for the broadband USO which will come into effect next year.

In terms of the public policy logic of the USO there is clearly pent-up demand in usage below 10Mbit/s compared to between 10-30 Mbit/s although there interestingly there is a noticeable gap between 10-30 Mbit/s and the superfast to ultrafast category.

18 CNR Data Consumption

However, there should be some concern that adoption of broadband is still lagging significantly behind network coverage, even in areas where better connectivity is available.

In response to this Ofcom have launched their Boost Your Broadband to help people identify the fixed broadband services that are available to them in their area and advice on how to get the service most suitable for their needs.

Ofcom also highlights number portability as an area that it needs to tackle in 2019. As our PSTN report published yesterday noted the UK’s method of enacting number portability is likely to be a significant challenge to the large scale movement of numbers to and from new technology platforms. Ofcom will be working on a pilot to examine with blockchain technology can assist in this area.