Over half of UK households now have access to gigabit broadband

Just over 50 per cent of UK properties now have access to gigabit broadband, according to research from Thinkbroadband.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised the installation of full-fibre, gigabit-capable broadband in every home and business across the UK by 2025. This pledge was later downgraded to just 85 per cent of premises in the UK, with MPs questioning whether even this target was achievable considering the current speed of the rollout.

Thinkbroadband said the country reached the 50.23 per cent milestone on the morning of 17 September following the switch on of the Virgin Media O2 Gig1 option in Blaydon and Dundee.

In the few days since, various other full fibre roll-outs are being tracked by the firm including those from Openreach, Swish Fibre, Netomnia, CityFibre, Hyperoptic, Community Fibre, toob, FWNetworks and others.

The gigabit infrastructure boost marks a significant increase from just 12 months ago when coverage was just 26.9 per cent. The full fibre component of the 50.23 per cent is 26.24, an increase from 16.8 per cent a year ago, Thinkbroadband said.

Digital secretary Nadine Dorries said: “We’ve passed the halfway point in our national mission to level up the UK with lightning-fast gigabit broadband.

“Millions of people can now access the fastest, most reliable internet connections, allowing them full advantage of new technologies over the next forty years.

“Thanks to the work of industry and our record £5bn investment, we are making phenomenal progress in the Prime Minister’s infrastructure revolution.”

The research also found that the UK still has more “fairly easy wins” in its race to reach 85 per cent coverage. There are still more areas where Virgin Media is still to switch on its Gig1 service, for example.

Even without additional fibre-to-the-premises installations, Virgin’s Gig1 efforts would see the UK reach 65.6 per cent gigabit availability. Based on this, Thinkbroadband estimates that if Virgin completes its roll-out by end of 2021, gigabit coverage should rise to around 68 per cent overall.

Rural areas are typically the most difficult areas to reach for gigabit broadband infrastructure and cost the most to install per property.

In August, the Government announced a £5bn plan to upgrade approximately two million rural homes with the technology.

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