One in four UK homes has access to gigabit broadband, while a small but significant number of rural spots still suffer with substandard connections, according to Ofcom.
The regulator said around 190,000 premises are unable to receive a decent broadband service, which it defines as offering download speeds of 10 Mbit/s and upload speeds of one Mbit/s.
It is also estimated that 43,000 have no access to good mobile connectivity on top of having poor fixed broadband.
Despite this, gigabit broadband – capable of downloading a full 4K movie in less than 15 minutes with speeds of up to one Gbit/s – is available to 7.9 million homes across the UK, or 27%.
Much of this is via full fibre, which saw an increase of eight percentage points or just over two million premises in the past year, bringing total access up to 5.1 million homes.
Superfast broadband – defined as offering at least 30 Mbit/s – is available to 96%, up from 95% last year.
Ofcom said the UK’s networks have generally been resilient this year, with no indications that the pandemic resulted in a noticeable jump in telecoms outages despite increased demand from people being at home.
The regulator’s Connected Nations 2020 report mentions one major incident affecting O2 mobile phone users at the start of the first national lockdown, saying it highlighted some “important lessons” for firms about how the latest network technology responded to unprecedented demand peaks.
On average, the UK’s data-hungry households used 429GB of data each month in 2020, up 36% from last year’s 315GB.
“For millions of families this year, life during lockdown would have been even more difficult without reliable broadband to work, learn, play and see loved ones,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s network and communications group director.
“So it’s encouraging that future-proof, gigabit broadband is now available to a quarter of homes, and we expect that to rise even faster in the coming months.”