There is more to do to improve broadband and mobile availability and quality in the UK, a report by Ofcom has said.
The regulator’s 2014 Infrastructure Report highlighted four specific challenges to the overall availability and quality of broadband – including rolling out fast connections to rural locations, tackling ‘city not-spots (urban areas with poor coverage), SME availability and rolling out ‘ultrafast’ broadband. Good broadband connections are essential for people working flexibly from home and other locations.
Ofcom said the average UK household or small business is downloading 53 Gigabytes (GB) of data on their fixed broadband line every month – equivalent to 35 feature films, and a 77% increase on 2013. The average home is also uploading 7 GB of data to the internet each month, equivalent to 3,500 digital photographs.
The growth is being driven not only by increasing use of high-bandwidth services such as video streaming, but also the roll-out of faster connections supporting multiple users. On connections slower than 10 Mbit/s, performance these web activities may be impaired. Video streaming, in particular, can work less well when there are simultaneous demands on bandwidth from different devices in the home.
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: “Digital infrastructure is crucial to the UK’s future. As a country we are continuing to make real progress, particularly in the roll out and take-up of superfast broadband and 4G mobile services. But there is more to be done. We need to continue asking whether collectively we are doing enough to build the infrastructure of the future, and to maintain the competition that benefits consumers and businesses.
“The way consumers interact with their TV, phone and broadband is changing as fast as technology is evolving. Our challenge is to keep supporting competition and innovation, while also helping to improve coverage across the country – particularly in hard-to-reach areas where mobile and home internet services need to improve.”
Ofcom has also launched an interactive map so consumers can check coverage in their area.
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