With streaming being a popular way to watch TV and listen to music, as well as working from home becoming the norm, reliable broadband is now a necessity for the majority of households across the UK.
But how accessible is broadband in the UK and beyond? We’ve collated the latest UK broadband statistics for 2023, covering broadband access, usage, speed, cost, and more.
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Over the years, the share of households with access to a “decent” broadband connection has grown steadily.
Data from Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations Report discovered that 99.7% of households in the UK had access to a decent connection as of January 2022, up one per cent from the last report in September 2021.
Decent broadband is described as having a download speed of at least 10 Mbit/s and an upload speed of at least 1 Mbit/s.
|Access to at least 10Mbps services||May 2021||September 2021||January 2022|
The number of properties (both residential and commercial) that cannot receive a decent broadband service from a fixed line stands at around 506,000 (2%), dropping from 650,000 in December 2021.
|Unable to access 10Mbps||May 2021||September 2021||January 2022|
The number of homes able to get gigabit-capable broadband continues to increase, with nearly 19.3 million homes (66% of all UK homes) now able to access these faster services — up from 13.7 million (47%) in December 2021.
This has, in part, been driven by the rollout of full-fibre broadband and Virgin Media O2 making its network entirely gigabit-capable.
|Access to gigabit-capable services||May 2021||September 2021||January 2022|
Full fibre coverage continues to increase, with a third (33%) of homes having access to full fibre services at the beginning of 2022. As a result, full fibre coverage sits at just under 9.6 million, an increase from 8.2 million (28%) homes in December 2021.
This has been bolstered through deployments by larger fibre infrastructure operators, and supported by smaller providers up and down the UK that serve individual regions.
|Access to full fibre||May 2021||September 2021||January 2022|
Superfast broadband coverage continues to slowly grow — albeit at a reduced pace compared to gigabit and full fibre — with coverage remaining at 96% of all UK homes. This slow progress is likely due to the increased rollout of full fibre and gigabit-capable connections UK-wide.
|Access to superfast fibre||May 2021||September 2021||January 2022|
Aside from gigabit, full fibre, and superfast, broadband services are also available from Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) networks provided via mobile networks, or through Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs).
Latest Ofcom data shows that FWA coverage from mobile networks is available to 94% of premises in the UK, and around 7% can receive a decent broadband service from a WISP.
|Access to fixed WANs||May 2021||September 2021||January 2022|
|UK Mobile Network Operators (MNO)||93%||94%||94%|
|UK Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP)||6%||7%||7%|
Bearing in mind the broadband coverage estimates provided by FWA providers, it is estimated that there are still around 99,500 premises that do not have access to a decent broadband service from a fixed network or an FWA network at the beginning of 2022.
Understandably, average UK broadband speeds in rural areas tend to be considerably slower than those in urban areas. In 2020, the average speed in rural areas was 54 Mbit/s compared to 81 Mbit/s in urban areas.
This is because superfast broadband is less available in the countryside, and buildings are typically further away from cabinets, where long copper line connections cause slower performance.
Based on these speeds, a household with an average broadband speed in rural areas downloading a typical 858MB film (via On Demand) would take around 2 minutes and 15 seconds, compared to 1 minute and 30 seconds for those in urban areas. For a household with a decent download speed (10 Mbit/s average download speed), the download time jumps to 12 minutes.
In 2020, 0.9% of premises in rural areas could not access a decent broadband service (delivering an average download speed of 10 Mbit/s), compared with just 0.3 per cent of premises in urban areas
In the UK in 2020, 92.1% of the population aged 16 and over used the internet. As expected, this number has continued to grow over time, increasing from 79.4% a decade earlier—a rise of 16%.
Over the last 10 years, 16-to-24-year-olds used the internet the most, except for 2019 when 25-to-34-year-olds finished highest with 0.2% more users. This was short-lived, though, as 16-to-24-year-olds regained the top spot. As of 2020, the largest proportion of internet users came from the 16-24 and 25-35 age groups, with a share of 99.5% each.
Internet connections in households with one adult aged 65 years and over have increased since 2019 to 80%, however, these households still have the lowest proportion of internet connections overall.
In 2021, just over a third of internet users were aged between 25 and 34 years old, making up the largest share of online users around the globe. 18 to 24-year-olds contribute just under a quarter of online users worldwide, and 35 to 44-year-olds take up almost 19%.
The global digital population aged 65 or older represented approximately 5.5% of all internet users worldwide.
As of April 2022, Northern Europe had the highest internet penetration rate, with 98% of the population having access to the internet. Western Europe followed closely behind, with 94%.
Asia has the largest internet user base, with an estimated 2.7 billion internet users hailing from the region (this can be explained by its global population share). East Asia contributed the majority with an online penetration rate of close to 73% as of April 2022 — just above the global average of 63%. Despite this, Asia is far from being a leader in regard to online penetration.
Globally, almost one in three households have access to the internet via a fixed broadband connection. When broken down by region, however, Europe leads the way. Over 86% of European households have a fixed Internet connection, followed in second place by The Americas, with almost 80%.
The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) represent those countries formed through the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Just over three-quarters of these households have a fixed Internet connection, compared to almost 72% of those located in Asia and the Pacific.
The Arab States refer to the 22 Arab nations, who are members of the Arab League, and span across North Africa and the Middle East. Just over half of these households (56%) have access to the internet via fixed broadband, which is below the global average of 65.79%.
Less than 3% of African households have access to a fixed broadband Internet connection, which highlights the infrastructural chasm between the developed and the developing parts of our world.
Despite this, it's worth noting that the number of households with a fixed broadband connection in the Arab States and Africa could be significantly lower than in other regions because they rely on other types of broadband to access the internet, such as mobile broadband or satellite.
Uswitch classifies* broadband speeds into the following four main categories:
Standard broadband: Uses ADSL technology to provide average download speeds of around 10-11 Mbps.
Superfast broadband: Uses fibre-optic cables to deliver a range of speeds, from 30-100 Mbps.
Ultrafast broadband: Delivers speeds between 100-1000 Mbps.
Gigabit broadband: Providing internet speeds of 1000Mbps (1Gbps) and above.
The criteria for a “decent” broadband service is generally described as having a download speed of at least 10 Mbit/s and an upload speed of at least 1 Mbit/s. This is what you usually get with a standard broadband package, and enables you to carry out tasks like browsing the internet, online shopping, and sending emails.
*This is based on what broadband providers refer to in their products.
As of 2021, the median average internet speed in the UK was 50.4 Mbps. This is a sharp increase of 40% from five years earlier, when the average was just 36 Mbps.
The increase has largely been driven by the increased rollout of ultrafast broadband and full fibre across the country, which delivers internet speeds of 100 Mbps and higher. A third (33%) of the UK can now access these connections, which explains why the average is faster than what most properties can actually get.
Average download speeds tend to slow during busy periods when broadband networks suffer the effects of—what’s known as—contention. In plain terms, this means competition for resources.
Across all connections, the average daily minimum speed (46.2 Mbit/s) was 90% of the average maximum speed (51.1 Mbit/s), while the average 8-10 pm peak-time speed (49.9 Mbit/s) was 98% of the average maximum.
Interested in finding out the difference between fixed broadband package speeds and the reported internet speeds, Uswitch analysed Ofcom fixed broadband performance data from homes across the UK. We obtained data on the region, internet service provider (ISP), broadband connection, and peak recorded download speeds from over 3,300 homes with fixed broadband. From this, we found the listed average download speeds for broadband connections in each home using each ISP website.
The percentage difference between the listed ISP broadband download speeds versus the connection’s reported peak download speed was then calculated for each ISP, broadband package, and UK region*.
Virgin had the highest average download speed of all internet service providers analysed, with a difference of 97.58%. The only other ISP with an average download speed of 90% or more is Zen, with 90.67%. Comparatively, TalkTalk’s average download speed is just 81.39%.
|Internet service provider||Average download speed (%)|
We found that three out of five broadband connections from Virgin Media had a higher average download speed than stated in their package. Virgin’s M500 cable connection lists its package speed as 516 Mbit/s, but the average download speed reported via Ookla reaches 540.35 Mbit/s.
A similar story can be said for BT, with its broadband download speeds close to those listed in its package details. However, the BT 38 Superfast connection is reportedly 10 Mbit/s less than stated in the package (36 Mbit/s vs 26.82 Mbit/s).
On the other end of the spectrum, TalkTalk has the worst package speed vs reported internet speed, with their 38 FTTC and 76 FTTC packages both failing to reach the download speeds consumers pay for.
|ISP broadband connections||Package download speed (Mbits/s)||Reported download speed average (Mbits/s)|
|BT 160 FTTP||150||145.83|
|BT 38 FTTC||36||26.82|
|BT 52 FTTC||50||43.18|
|BT 76 FTTC||74||62.95|
|BT 76 FTTP||74||73.8|
|EE 38 FTTC||36||32.2|
|EE 76 FTTC||74||61.72|
|Plusnet 38 FTTC||36||29.42|
|Plusnet 76 FTTC||66||60.61|
|Sky 38 FTTC||36||29.74|
|TalkTalk 38 FTTC||38||32.23|
|TalkTalk 76 FTTC||80||62.26|
|Virgin 100 Cable||108||109.47|
|Virgin 1000 Cable||1130||953.4|
|Virgin 200 Cable||213||208.58|
|Virgin 350 Cable||362||374.69|
|Virgin 500 Cable||516||540.35|
|Vodafone 76 FTTC||73||60.17|
England’s capital, London, has the fastest average download speed of all regions in the UK, with an average download speed of 93.6%. Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East and South West follow behind with average download speeds in the 90% range.
Scotland, on the other hand, fares the worst of all, with an average download speed of 85.11% – a difference of 8% from London at the top of the table.
|Region||Average download speed (%)|
|Yorkshire & Humberside||90.81|
Which local authority has the fastest and slowest download speeds in the UK? To find out, we utilised iOS and Android Speedtest data from Q2 2022 via Ookla. We then applied this to local authority boundaries, as per the Office of National Statistics, to highlight the average download, upload and latency performance speeds for each local authority**.
Southampton has the fastest average download speed, clocking in at 166.677 Mbit/s. This was closely followed by Stockon-on-Tees, with a download speed of 166.356 Mbit/s.
Third place goes to Newham with a download speed of 157.795 Mbit/s, fourth to Coventry (157.652 Mbit/s), and fifth to Peterborough (157.509 Mbit/s).
On the other end of the scale, the local authority with the slowest download speed is the Isles of Scilly, with an average download speed of 24.536 Mbit/s—142.141 Mbit/s slower than first place Southampton.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets takes the crown for the fastest average upload speed, measuring an impressive 107.851 Mbit/s. Tower Hamlets is followed closely behind by Milton Keynes, with an average speed of 105.531 Mbit/s.
Southampton, which has the fastest average download speed, also has the third-fastest upload speed, clocking in at an average of 102.859 Mbit/s.
On the other end of the scale, as well as having the slowest download speed in the UK, the Isles of Scilly has the slowest upload speed too. The local authority racks up an average upload speed of just 6.555 Mbit/s, which is almost 16 times slower than Tower Hamlets in first place.
Latency definition: Latency refers to the delay before a transfer of data begins. A connection with low latency often feels more responsive for simple tasks like internet browsing.
Most online activities require a response time of less than 100 milliseconds (ms) to provide a good experience, although some online gaming apps require 50 ms.
Our research identified that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets has the best average latency speed, measuring just 9.554 ms. Second place goes to Newham, another London Borough, with an equally impressive latency speed of 9.846 ms.
Residents in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland don’t have it quite so good, clocking an average latency speed of 58.874 ms. This is still reasonable and would allow residents to carry out simple tasks online, however, there is a considerable difference of 49.32 ms from Tower Hamlets in first place.
Every December, we analyse all broadband speed tests that were run throughout the year using our broadband speed test to identify the UK streets with the fastest and slowest internet speeds.
As of December 2021, the street with the slowest broadband speed was Wistaston Road in Crewe, where residents have an average broadband speed of just 0.25 Mbps. At this speed, it would take residents over two-and-a-half days to download a two-hour HD film and almost 24 hours to download a 45-minute HD TV show.
By contrast, residents living on Britain’s fastest street for broadband, Haul Fryn in Birchgrove, Swansea, experience an average speed of 882.03 Mbps. This means Wistaston Road is a staggering 3,567 times slower than Haul Fryn, and residents would only have to wait about a minute to download the same film or a mere 24 seconds to download the same show.
In 2021, Monaco topped the list of countries with the fastest fixed broadband internet speed around the globe, reaching an impressive 270.25 Mbps on average. Hong Kong and Singapore rank second and third, respectively, with average speeds of more than 250 Mbps.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) boasted the fastest mobile internet speed of all countries worldwide in 2021, racking up an average speed of 273.87 Mbps. South Korea was the only other country to reach internet speeds of more than 200 Mbps.
Coverage of 4G mobile networks across the UK has not seen significant changes in recent years, however, the Shared Rural Network (SRN) agreement between the UK Government and industry in 2020 should fast-forward coverage over the coming years.
At the start of 2022, 92% of the UK landmass was estimated to have good 4G coverage from at least one operator, which includes nearly all premises in the UK.
4G coverage in Scotland and Wales is slower than elsewhere in the UK, however, individual mobile network operators (MNOs) aim to achieve between 85% and 88% coverage in Wales by 2027 (under the government’s SRN investment) and between 82% and 85% in Scotland.
|Premises (outdoor) – coverage range across mobile network operators||May 2021||September 2021||January 2022|
|Geographic area – coverage range across MNOs||May 2021||September 2021||January 2022|
5G coverage from at least one operator ranges from 47% to 62% of premises outdoors in the UK, up from 42% and 57% in December 2021.
|Premises (outdoor) covered by at least one operator||January 2022|
|Premises (outdoor) covered by all operators||January 2022|
Pricing for broadband services from the UK’s independent full-fibre network operators can be lower than those from established providers.
Data from Ofcom shows full-fibre broadband pricing for selected independent providers, as well as BT using the Openreach full-fibre network and Virgin Media (which uses DOCSIS 3.1 cable and full-fibre technology) to provide ultrafast services. Operators such as Community Fibre, Hyperoptic, and G.Network are entering the broadband market thanks to a clever pricing strategy.
On top of the monthly price, some broadband providers charge fees for activation, set-up, or installation, which is dependent on the provider and contract length.
Broadband installation cost also depends on whether the broadband provider is registered to the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS). The scheme, which has been running since 2021, can provide up to £210 million worth of funding to help homes and businesses cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband. Households eligible for this can claim vouchers worth up to £1,500 through a registered broadband provider, and businesses can claim up to £3,500.
According to Ofcom, 80% of UK households bought bundle deals (two or more services from the same provider) at the start of 2021. The most common combination was broadband and home phone deals, with just over a third (36%) of households opting for one of these packages.
When combining internet and a home phone, households in the UK pay an average of £28.33 a month for a standard, basic broadband package. If households were to upgrade to a superfast fibre connection (30 Mbps+), it would cost £39.75, and for ultrafast connections (300 Mbps+), it would cost £61.90.
Almost a quarter (23%) of UK households are on triple-bundled deals, which include broadband, a home phone, and TV services. These deals are more expensive, however, they can save you all-important pennies compared to purchasing each separately.
In 2021, UK households paid £44.21 a month, on average, for standard broadband options, which increased to £56.99 a month for superfast broadband, and £79.40 for ultrafast.
Uswitch’s analysis*** of quarterly complaints across eight leading internet service providers (ISP) per 100,000 customers between Q4 2010 and Q1 2022 can reveal that Vodafone receives the most complaints per 100,000 customers per quarter, with an average of 1.77. Following closely behind are TalkTalk and Plusnet, with an average of 1.59 and 1.45 complaints per 100,000 customers per quarter, respectively.
Sky, on the other hand, receives the least number of complaints per 100,000 customers per quarter. Since Q4 2010 and Q1 2022, the internet service provider has received an average of 0.41 complaints. Virgin Media also fares well on the complaints front, with an average of 0.76 complaints per 100,000 customers each quarter.
The industry as a whole received an average of 19 complaints per 100,000 customers in Q1 2021—the highest number of complaints since Q4 2017, when 19 complaints were also made.
This sudden jump in complaints could be explained by the increased use of the internet at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, where enforced Government restrictions meant the vast majority of the population had to use their fixed broadband whilst working from home.
In Q1 2022, the majority of broadband complaints made to Ofcom were due to faults, service, and provisioning with the service, with just over a third (37%) of complaints encompassing this. Of these complaints, 40% were filed by customers of Shell Energy.
The handling of complaints proved to be an issue with customers across the industry, with Ofcom receiving a third (31%) of complaints about this. A further 14% of complaints related to billing, pricing, and charges.
Mobile devices have become an essential part of everyday life. Research shows that the number of unique mobile internet users stood at 4.32 billion in 2021, meaning that over 90% of the global internet population uses a mobile device to go online.
In 2022, it was found that 93.6% of the population in Canada were mobile internet users. Bahrain ranked first with a mobile internet penetration of approximately 98%, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 95.8%.
Kuwait was ranked third with 95% mobile internet usage penetration. The UAE and Kuwait also rank among the countries with the fastest average mobile internet speed worldwide.
According to the latest mobile phone statistics available, the average person spends approximately 3.34 hours a day on their phone to access the internet.
Internet users in the Philippines spent more than five hours and 40 minutes using the Internet on their mobile phones per day, compared to Japan which registered the lowest number of daily hours spent online on mobile phones (one hour and 39 minutes per day).
Video apps make up two-thirds (66.2%) of mobile data usage globally each month, followed by social networking sites (10.1%). Although, these two categories overlap with each other, as users often watch videos via social networking apps, such as TikTok.
We polled 2,003 adults around the UK aged 18 and over to find out how people feel about their broadband, their average spend per month, the most common broadband issues they have, and more.
Six in 10 (64%) broadband users have changed their broadband provider at least once.
When asked what the main reason would be if they were to change their broadband provider, just under half (48%) said it would be due to cost.
On top of this, 20% said it was due to connectivity, orwanting a faster, more reliable broadband internet connection. However, 6% claimed they wouldn’t change broadband providers.
|Cost (became too expensive/looking for a cheaper deal)||48%|
|Connectivity (looking for faster/more reliable Internet)||20%|
|Contract came to an end||10%|
|Customer service (poor customer service/looking for more reliable customer service)||8%|
|To consolidate broadband with other services as part of a bundle (i.e. TV, mobile, and/or phone)||6%|
|I wouldn’t change provider||6%|
Source: Uswitch survey, August 2022
Despite 54% of those polled claiming their monthly spending on broadband has stayed the same over the last 12 months, 30% said that their monthly broadband spend had increased between £5 and £9.99 – a maximum increase of £119.88 per year. On average, broadband spending has increased by £3.58 per month or £42.96 per year.
The rise in broadband spending appears to be most common in Greater London and the North East of England, with 54% and 53% respectively spending more on broadband in the last 12 months. Those based in Yorkshire and the Humber are spending the most amongst all UK regions, with 2% of Yorkshire residents surveyed increasing their broadband outlay by more than £15. Comparatively, those based in the West Midlands have fared the best, with 12% of residents having only spent £4.99 or less on average.
|Region||Spend has stayed the same||Spend up to £4.99||Spend between £5 - £9.99||Spend between £10 - £14.99||Spend more than £15|
|East of England||56%||10%||25%||9%||0%|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||50%||8%||33%||7%||2%|
Source: Uswitch survey, August 2022
When broken down by housing arrangement, students were more likely to see an increase in their broadband spending over the last 12 months. With just 20% saying it stayed the same, a further 20% experienced a spending increase between £10 and £14.99, and 60% saw an increase between £5 and £9.99. This equates to an average increase of around £7 per month (or £84 a year), which is almost double the UK average increase of £3.58.
|Housing arrangement||Spend has stayed the same||Spend has stayed the same||Increased by up to £4.99||Increased by £5 - £9.99||Increased by £10 - £14.99|
|I/We live with my family||54%||5%||31%||9%||1%|
|Social housing such as council house||51%||8%||32%||9%||0%|
|A home that I/we own with a mortgage||52%||8%||33%||6%||0%|
|Private rental accommodation||56%||8%||29%||7%||1%|
|A home that I/we own outright||56%||11%||27%||6%||1%|
Of those polled, the average payment for broadband per month (including broadband bundles) is £40.97. Despite this, most people pay between £20 and £29.99 for their broadband each month, including bundle services like TV or mobile. This is followed by almost a quarter who pay between £30 and £39.99 for their broadband internet per month. 6% of respondents pay £70 or more.
Particular deals that include an installation charge are more common in some areas compared to others. On average, more than a quarter (26%) of respondents in our survey chose broadband deals with no installation fees included. In fact, 15% of respondents paid between £20 and £29.99, and a further 9% paid between £30 and £39.99.
Regionally, 44% of those in Greater London have paid a fee to have their broadband fitted, marginally more than residents in Northern Ireland (42%). By contrast, 80% of those in Wales and the South West opted to have no additional spending when it came to installing their broadband.
|Region||No installation fees||Up to £19.99||£20 - £29.99||£30 - £39.99||£40 or more|
|East of England||75%||1%||14%||9%||1%|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||76%||1%||12%||11%||1%|
Source: Uswitch survey, August 2022
Despite paying for a broadband internet service each month, many people still experience issues with their broadband regularly.
In our survey, we found the most common connection issue people have faced since their broadband was installed is dropouts and outages, with a quarter experiencing this (26%). This was followed by poor home Wi-Fi coverage and slow speed (22% each), and router issues (15%). Despite this, 47% stated they had had no issues with their broadband since it was installed.
|Broadband issues||Percentage share of those experiencing this issue with broadband internet in the UK (%)|
|Poor Wi-Fi coverage around the house||22%|
|No issues experienced||47%|
Source: Uswitch survey, August 2022