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Ofcom: More than 1 million homes have poor broadband

More than 1.4 million homes in the UK are unable to make use of modern internet services such as Netflix due to slow broadband connections, according to a new report from Ofcom.

The report looks at the development of fixed and wireless communication networks in the UK and reveals 5% of homes and offices don’t have access to broadband speeds over 10Mbps.

Despite the lack of access for these 5%, the report also shows that the number of homes without 10Mbps broadband has fallen 42% (around a million properties) in the past year.

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Ofcom’s 2015 Connected Nations report (conducted annually) found 8% of properties, or 2.4 million, did not have access to 10Mbps-plus broadband connections.

The telecoms regulator says 10Mbps is the minimum required for a typical household’s digital needs, including streaming in HD, video calling and, in some cases, web browsing.

“Mobile and broadband coverage continued to grow this year, but too many people and businesses are still struggling for a good service,” said Steve Unger, Ofcom’s director of strategy, in a statement.

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Ofcom’s latest report found a divide between urban and rural areas when it came to higher speed broadband, with more than 900,000 homes too far from telephone exchanges to get a 10mbps service in rural areas.

In order to improve networks to allow these rural properties access to 10mbps connections, Ofcom estimates it would take £1.1 billion of investment.

Ofcom makes sure to highlight the positives in its report, however, writing in a summary: “The quality and reach of fixed broadband infrastructure in the UK has advanced considerably over the last few years, both in terms of technology and services offered.

“Superfast broadband is now available to almost 90% of homes and small businesses across the UK and continuing investment by industry and Government will ensure further increases in coverage over the next few years.”

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The report also highlights the need for the UK’s mobile networks to improve services in areas where coverage is limited, estimating that just 40% of the UK is covered by 4G mobile signals from all four operators. Still, that’s up from 8% in 2015.

Ofcom says it is talking to network operators about “radical and ambitious” ways to boost 4G coverage in those areas with poor data connections.

In a summary, Ofcom writes: “For a significant number of consumers, and in many parts of the country, fixed broadband speeds are slow and mobile coverage is poor or indeed non-existent.

“Ofcom is therefore continuing to work with industry, the UK Government and the devolved administrations to explore ways to improve the availability and performance of these vital communications services.”

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