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Festive movie favourites in less than a minute – full fibre reaches over a quarter of Scottish homes

Ofcom has today published the Connected Nations Scotland report for 2021, which provides the latest picture of fixed broadband and mobile coverage across Scotland and the UK.

This year’s report finds that:

  • Full-fibre broadband is now available to 717,000 (27%) Scottish homes – an increase of 280,000 premises since last year and the highest year-on-year increase seen on full-fibre coverage so far. Just over half of Scottish homes can access gigabit-capable broadband (the second highest of the UK nations) as rollout accelerates.
  • Superfast broadband coverage availability remains stable at 94% of homes in Scotland, and over two-thirds of homes that have access to superfast broadband have taken up a superfast service.  However, many others are yet to take advantage of even faster services, with less than a quarter (22%) of homes upgrading to faster, more reliable full-fibre services.
  • We remain concerned about a small – but significant – subset of premises (around 30,000) that still cannot access decent broadband and there is still work to do to connect the hardest to reach homes.
  • 4G continues to underpin mobile experience in Scotland; 82% of Scotland’s landmass has access to good 4G coverage from at least one of the four mobile operators while only 45% has coverage from all four. 96% of rural premises are predicted to receive a good service from at least one operator. Mobile operators have continued to deploy 5G networks across the UK, with 8% of the c6,500 sites being in Scotland.

Ofcom’s annual Connected Nations Scotland report on the availability of broadband and mobile services across Scotland and the UK, reveals that the rollout of future-proof, full-fibre technology is accelerating at its fastest ever rate. Full-fibre broadband is now available to 717,000 (27%) of homes in Scotland – an increase of 280,000 premises in the last year – and the highest year-on-year increase seen on full-fibre coverage so far.

By September 2021, Gigabit-capable broadband was available to over half of Scottish homes (1.3 million), and we expect this will quickly increase further since Virgin Media O2 completed the upgrade of its cable network in Scotland. As well as delivering faster speeds, these services are more reliable than older broadband technologies. Commercial build-out of full-fibre networks has continued apace with Openreach, Virgin Media and CityFibre rapidly expanding their Scottish networks.

Superfast broadband coverage availability remains stable at 94% of homes in Scotland, and over two-thirds of homes that have access to superfast broadband have now taken up a superfast service.  However, many others are yet to take advantage of even faster services, with less than a quarter (22%) of homes upgrading to faster, more reliable full-fibre services where available.

Why would I need full fibre?

Full-fibre connections – along with upgraded cable networks – can deliver download speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s.[1] At this speed, families with full-fibre services could download Christmas film favourite Elf in High-Definition in less than a minute, compared with around 25 minutes for those with superfast broadband (30 Mbit/s).

On a decent (10 Mbit/s) connection, it would take around 1 hour and 15 minutes to download Elf. On a gigabit (1 Gbit/s) connection, it would take less than a minute.

Full fibre can better support data-hungry households where family members need to stream, work, game, video-call and study online at the same time. And in a year when many people continue to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, average monthly data use grew to 446 GB per connection – up from 327 GB per connection in 2019.

Connecting the hardest to reach households

Around 30,000 Scottish homes (1.1%) still do not have access to a ‘decent’ broadband connection – defined as offering download speeds of 10 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 1 Mbit/s. At this speed, it could take up to an hour and a half to download an HD film.

The UK and Scottish Governments continue to deliver projects aimed at making sure people in the hardest-to-reach areas can get the connections they need.

Read the report here.

Tags: report