About Digital Britain Forum / Communications Infrastructure in the UK

Communications Infrastructure in the UK

Communications infrastructure in the UK requires continuous upgrading due to the continuous development of the communications technologies as well as due to increased use of these services by the consumers.

Broadband Infrastructure

Broadband infrastructure in the UK has been made available to virtually 100 percent of the premises, while the overall take-up of broadband services is about 70 percent. Through the Universal Service Commitment, the UK Government aims to ensure that all premises in the country have access to broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps.

According to the Ofcom report for 2012, the Government’s ‘broadband project’ is progressing well and the percentage of connections with broadband speeds below 2Mbps dropped from 14 to 10 percent in just one year. The Ofcom also notes that access to superfast connections is now available to a larger number of premises, while many can also increase their speeds by properly addressing their wiring issues. Lastly, those who are still unable to receive fixed broadband speeds of minimum 2Mbps can improve their speeds with new technologies such as satellite broadband for instance.

Due to the above mentioned reasons, increased public funding and more premises having access to superfast connections, the average broadband speeds in the UK is rising steadily. According to the Ofcom report, the average speeds today is nearly 13Mbps which is almost a 70 percent increase from 7.5Mbps as much as the average was in 2011.

Mobile Internet Infrastructure

The number of smartphone users in the UK is growing rapidly and as a result, the use of mobile Internet has increased dramatically over the last few years. The 2012 Ofcom report reveals that mobile data use has doubled from 2011 to 2012. In average, 246MB of data is consumed per active SIM. This is incomparably less from data carried over fixed broadband connections but the use of mobile Internet is expected to continue to rise in the following years.

While UK smartphone users can expect improvements of mobile broadband in the near future, there are still households without mobile coverage. According to the Ofcom, there are currently 0.3 percent of premises without the basic 2G mobile coverage, while slightly more than 6 percent of premises are in the so-called partial not-spots.

Digital TV Switchover

Digital TV switchover in the UK was completed in 2012 when the last analogue signals were switched off in Northern Ireland. According to Ofcom, virtually all households in the UK have access to digital TV.