Ofcom report shows growing 5G coverage | Jobs Reply

Using a phone in a remote location – stock image

Using a phone in a remote location – stock image

Around seven in ten UK homes can now get 5G coverage from at least one mobile operator, according to a new report from media regulator Ofcom.

That’s more than about half of all UK households 12 months ago, according to the Connected Nations report.

The number of handsets capable of 5G has also increased significantly, doubling to one in five handsets over the past year, according to Ofcom’s report.

However, some consumers say the connection speed is disappointing.

A stock image of a couple using a phone

5G traffic now accounts for almost 10% of all mobile traffic

5G has received a lot of investment from mobile operators and the government and is being hailed as a faster and more reliable connection.

There are currently around 12,000 5G mobile sites in the UK, almost double last year: 86% of these are in England, 8% in Scotland, 4% in Wales and 2% in Northern Ireland.

ISPreview.co.uk’s Mark Jackson told the BBC that the government’s decision to tell networks to move the technology away from Huawei by 2027 has “slowed down a little bit” the rollout of 5G, causing “engineers at most operators prompted to focus on removing and replacing the associated 4G and 5G kit”.

5G traffic – the amount of voice and data flowing over the network – has tripled in the last 12 months and now accounts for almost 10% of all mobile traffic.

“Glow” on 5G

A BBC report heard from a number of people who were disappointed with the performance of 5G they were experiencing.

Ofcom analyzed crowdsourced data from Opensignal to assess service quality across the UK.

It was found that for 5G devices, many more areas achieved “high levels of performance” than for non-5G devices, but it was found that – even for 5G – only a few areas achieved “highest levels of performance”.

Ofcom told the BBC it wanted to see investment in 5G networks.

It states: “UK mobile operators are still in the process of rolling out 5G and are at various stages of expanding their networks. As such, customer experience will vary based on location and network.

“We will be taking further steps in the coming year to shed light on this so people can see for themselves which operators are leaders in quality of service.”

High fiber

The same report found that more than 12 million homes – 42% of UK homes – now have the opportunity to get full fibre-optic broadband, an increase of 4.3 million on the previous year.

An engineer installing broadband

An engineer installing broadband

Full fiber optic connections and upgraded cable networks can deliver download speeds of one gigabit per second (Gbps) or more – fast enough to download an HD movie in under a minute.

The report revealed that 70% of UK homes could get Gigabit-capable connectivity. Last year they were available in less than half of the UK.

However, according to Ofcom, only around 25% of households use these faster connections.

Mr Jackson said after recent “dramatic” improvements in coverage, largely based on private sector investment, he expected “gigabit coverage to grow more slowly”.

Broadband – from space

Nearly 80,000 homes and businesses lack access to “decent” broadband, defined as download speeds of 10 Mbps, the report finds. That’s fast enough to stream an HD movie or game, but problems arise when more than one person is trying to stream at the same time.

That figure is down from 123,000 last year, with Ofcom acknowledging that many of those who still don’t have ‘decent’ broadband live in the hardest-to-reach parts of the UK.

The regulator estimates that an additional 15,000 properties will be covered by publicly funded broadband programs over the next 12 months.

The government recently announced plans to test Elon Musk’s Starlink system to bring broadband to some of the most inaccessible places in the UK. Starlink uses a constellation of thousands of low-Earth orbiting satellites to provide broadband connectivity.

Starlink’s choice surprised some commentators, as the government owns a stake in another competing broadband-to-satellite company, OneWeb.

The government told the BBC it was down to the “readiness and availability” of Starlink technology.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it would continue to discuss “other solutions and services” with providers, “including OneWeb, in more complex locations”.

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