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Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2015: 10Mbit/s minimum for good service

By: Tim Mobbs, Commissioning Editor
Published: Thursday, December 24, 2015 - 09:00 GMT Jump to Comments

The new report shows that broadband coverage and quality has improved since last year, but is this enough to keep up with rising demand?

Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2015 report provides analysis that charts the UK’s progress towards becoming a “genuinely connected" nation. While there has been some progress over the last year in making broadband more available, there is still much more to be done.

Broadband, as a term, can vary greatly in speed of service. Ofcom asserts that a minimum of 10Mbit/s is required for a “good broadband service”. Although access and quality has improved, 48% of premises in rural areas still lack the necessary infrastructure for 10Mbit/s. 15% of small and medium sized businesses - around 200,000 in total - still have no access to such broadband speeds.

The report found that, once service surpasses 40Mbit/s, data usage increases significantly. These users tend to make the most of catch-up TV, video calls and online movie rentals. As television and other entertainment options continue to move towards streaming, these services will be seen as a basic need rather than a luxury.

The highlights from Connected Nations 2015 signal how quickly our relationship with digital communications is changing. A high quality broadband service should not be a privilege that is reserved for tech-savvy city dwellers. It is an essential force that drives our personal and professional lives, and is doing its part to empower businesses.

It is easy to assume that the entirety of the UK is adequately covered for communication. 7 out of 10 premises in the UK are now provided with 4G coverage from at least one provider, but only 55% of the UK’s total land area is covered by a basic (2G) voice service.

Ofcom's creation of two new free services - the Ofcom Wi-Fi Checker App and Mobile Coverage Checker - demonstrates a further commitment towards offering simple tools that can assist those trying to navigate a constantly evolving digital landscape. There are many who feel that we are not being provided with an adequate level of service, and who will certainly welcome such developments.

The communications regulator is voicing support for the government's intention to legally enforce the right for every UK home and business to have a broadband service of at least 10Mbit/s by the end of this Parliament. There is a risk, however, that 10Mbit/s could feel more like the dial-up connections of yesteryear by the time 2020 rolls around. As technology evolves at such a rapid pace, a few years can feel more like a few decades.

It is inevitable that the demand for better service will continue to rise at a faster rate than the progress of the necessary infrastructure to support such improvements. With a sincere commitment to improving broadband service, people and businesses will be given the necessary resources to flourish.

This article was first published on PublicServiceDigital.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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