As the digital age continues to accelerate rapidly, the reliance on the internet across society continues to expand. With so much of the UK's infrastructure now powered by online means, good quality broadband is an essential component for the day-to-day lives of many individuals, families, and businesses.
But how accessible is broadband in the UK and beyond? We’ve collated the latest UK broadband connection statistics for 2023, covering broadband access, usage, coverage, and more.
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In the UK, there were 27.3 million fixed broadband lines fitted to homes in Q3 2022, an increase of 91,000 from the time in 2022.
By September 2022, the average (median) download speed for UK home broadband connections was 65.3 Mbps (an increase of 10% compared to March 2022, or 6.0 Mbps).
Average upload speeds increased by 46% (4.9 Mbps) between March and September 2022, to 15.5 Mbps
Data shows that 99.7% of UK homes had access to decent internet (10Mbps or above).
Nottingham suffered the longest combined outage time in the UK in 2022, with over 70 hours spent disconnected to the web.
Virgin Media offered the closest average download speeds to what they advertised (97.58%) which was 7% more than their nearest rival, Zen.
BT is the best-reviewed broadband provider, with 83% of customers satisfied with the service they receive.
UK broadband access statistics show that there were 28.1 million fixed broadband lines in the UK at the end of Q1 2023 – an increase of 261,000 (+0.9%) year-on-year. Of these, around 70% (19.4 million) were predominantly FFTC or full fibre variants.
The number of ADSL lines fell by 176,000 (-6.2%) during Q1 2023. These figures are likely to have been influenced by Openreach’s ongoing ‘copper switch-off’ resulting in more people moving onto full fibre connection.
Conversely, cable line numbers increased by 25,000 (+0.5%), and the number of ‘other including FTTx’ lines increased by 368,000 (+1.9%).
Between Q1 2022 and Q1 2023, the number of dedicated mobile broadband subscriptions also increased by 168,000 (+3.3%) to 5.2 million nationwide.
Over the years, the share of households with access to a “decent” broadband connection has grown steadily.
What is decent broadband?
Decent broadband is described as having a download speed of at least 10Mbps and an upload speed of at least 1Mbps.
UK broadband statistics from Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations Report discovered that 99.7% of UK households had access to a decent broadband connection as of January 2023.
UK broadband access statistics reveal the number of properties (both residential and commercial) that cannot receive a decent broadband service from a fixed line stands at around 68,000 (or 0.3%) as of January 2023.
This represents a decrease of 15% from December 2022 (80,000) and a 90% drop from December 2021 when there were 650,000 homes without access to decent broadband.
The number of homes able to get gigabit-capable broadband continues to increase, with nearly 22.4 million (75% of all UK homes) now able to access these faster services. This is up from 21.9 million (73%) in January 2023.
This has, in part, been driven by the nationwide rollout of full fibre broadband and Virgin Media O2 making its network entirely gigabit-capable.
UK broadband access statistics indicate that gigabit-capable broadband is now available to 91% of Northern Ireland’s premises – the most of any UK nation – and accounts for over 0.8 million locations across the country.
This is followed by England, with three in every four locations (75%) now able to access gigabit-capable broadband. Ofcom’s 2023 broadband report shows that Wales has the smallest percentage, with six in ten (60%) of its homes and businesses connected to gigabit-capable broadband.
Over time, the percentage of UK premises connected by gigabit-capable broadband has almost doubled, from just 40% in May 2021. England has seen the biggest increase (+39%) of all four UK nations, followed by Wales (+30%) within the previous 24 months.
UK fibre broadband statistics indicate that full fibre coverage across the country continues to increase, with over half (52%) of UK homes having access to full fibre services in May 2023. As a result, full fibre coverage sits at just under 15.4 million – an 15% increase May 2022, and a seven-fold increase since 2018.
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.
In terms of UK broadband access statistics for full fibre internet, Northern Ireland is leading the way across all four UK nations, with 89% of its premises now served by this type of broadband. By contrast, Wales has managed to connect only 46% of its total properties.
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The same broadband report indicates that England and Scotland have managed to connect 47% and 46% of their respective premises with full fibre broadband.
Superfast broadband coverage continues to slowly grow – albeit at a reduced pace compared to gigabit and full fibre – with coverage now reaching 97% of all UK homes. This slow progress is likely due to the increased rollout of full fibre and gigabit-capable connections UK-wide.
According to recent UK broadband access statistics from Ofcom, England and Northern Ireland lead the way in terms of superfast broadband coverage, at 97%, followed by Wales (both 96%), and then Scotland (95%).
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 95% of UK premises in 2023, and around 8% can receive a decent broadband service from a WISPs.
Wireless broadband statistics show that since May 2021, the percentage of UK premises has increased by 2%, with the corresponding figures for UK WISPs also rising by 2%.
As of September 2022, UK broadband stats for MNOs indicate that 96% of England’s homes and businesses could connect to such a network, compared to just 85% for Northern Ireland. Comparative broadband figures for WISP FWA network connections in these two countries were 7% and 0%, respectively. Incidentally, almost one in three (32%) of premises in Wales could connect to a WISP FWA—the highest percentage across all four UK nations.
Bearing in mind the broadband coverage estimates provided by FWA providers, it is estimated that there are still around 62,000 UK premises that do not have access to a decent broadband service from a fixed network or an FWA network at the beginning of 2023.
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%. By 2021, this figure had risen to 94% of UK households.
As of 2021, 6% of UK adults do not have access to the internet at home, and this figure increases with age. A fifth (20%) of those aged 65+ do not have domestic internet access, compared to just 1% of 18-34-year-olds.
Those aged 65+ are also most likely to have internet access but not use it (7%), compared to a UK average of 2%. Less than three-quarters (73%) of those aged 65+ have internet access at home and use it—the only age group in Ofcom’s study to not record a figure of 96% or above for this category.
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.
UK broadband usage statistics indicate that those in higher socio-economic groups (such as AB and C1) tend to have a higher percentage of access to the internet at home, compared to those in the lower socio-economic groups (such as C2 and DE).
Around one in seven (14%) of those in the lowest group (DE) have no internet access at home, compared to just 2% and 3% for AB and C1, respectively. By contrast, 82% of those in the DE group have access at home and go online, compared to 97% for those in the wealthiest group (AB).
The spread of internet users across the UK is unevenly distributed. UK broadband usage statistics from Ofcom indicate that, as of June 2022, 9% of people in Wales still have no internet access at home, compared to just 1% of those in Northern Ireland. Comparable broadband statistics for England and Scotland stand at 6% and 7%, respectively.
Northern Ireland is very much leading the way with 95% of people connected to the internet and regularly using the internet. By contrast, only 81% of Scottish inhabitants can boast the same fact.
According to UK broadband usage statistics from Ofcom’s Online Nations report (2022), the average UK adult spends just under four hours a day online. This figure is highest among the younger age groups, with those between 15 and 24 years old spending more than five hours a day (on average) using the internet.
Incidentally, those aged 55+ spend the least amount of time online per day, at just under three hours on average.
Across all four nations of the UK, residents in Scotland spent the longest time each day online, averaging four hours 18 minutes. This is followed by England (at just under four hours per person) and Wales (three hours, 43 minutes) for the average resident.
Those living in Northern Ireland spend the least amount of time online each day on average, at three hours, 25 minutes per person.
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. Those aged between 18 and 24 years old 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.
On a global scale, almost two-thirds (65%) of the world’s population had access to the internet in April 2023.
Advancements in technology, along with the fast-paced development of telecommunication networks and infrastructure around the globe, have directly impacted internet penetration globally.
As a result, the number of internet users worldwide has increased since 2005, from 1.02 billion to an estimated 5.18 billion in 2023 – up nearly three million from 2021 (4.9 billion).
According to an internet user statistics report, there were around five billion people on the internet, as of January 2023.
China ranked as the country with the most internet users worldwide. With more than a billion internet users, this was more than triple the amount of third-placed USA with 307 million, and almost double that of India in second (692 million).
Despite China having by far the most internet users, its overall percentage of users (72%) was considerably lower than the United States and United Kingdom, who recorded percentages of 91% and 96%, respectively. Similarly, though India had the fourth highest number of internet users (around 692 million), this represented less than half of their overall population (43%).
With approximately 66 million internet users, the UK has the sixteenth highest number of internet users—six million more than France in 18th.
Broadband penetration statistics reveal that, as of January 2023, 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.
Global broadband penetration statistics show that 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) represents 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.
According to UK broadband connection stats, there is a notable difference between urban and rural connectivity across the country. Average UK broadband speeds in UK rural areas tend to be considerably slower than in urban areas.
As of March 2022, this gap has subsequently widened, with UK broadband speed statistics finding that the median peak-time download speeds of 39.4Mbps was rural areas and 62.1Mbps in urban areas of the UK. This represents a 58% difference in broadband speed between urban and rural areas – a rise from 42% in 2021.
Despite UK rural broadband speeds increasing since 2021, this rate was lower compared to urban areas, where growth in broadband availability and take-up of full fibre, superfast, ultrafast, and gigabit services are considerably greater.
According to UK internet access statistics, as of March 2022, 86% of UK urban broadband lines had an average peak-time download speed of at least 30Mbps, compared to just over two-thirds (67%) of rural areas.
Likewise, for those with speeds of less than 10Mbps, the corresponding figures were 14% for rural areas and just 1% for UK urban regions.
UK broadband connection statistics reveal that ADSL2+ connections constitute over 95% of all ADSL lines in the UK. As of March 2022, the median average 24-hour download speed in UK urban areas was 16.2Mbps—more than double the average for rural areas (6.0Mbps).
For FTTC broadband connections statistics, the difference between urban and rural download speeds is much smaller (50.5Mbps vs 50.0Mbps respectively). This is because there is less variation in the length of copper lines for the street cabinet to a user’s premises in urban vs rural areas.
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UK broadband figures from Ofcom indicate a 22.7Mbps difference between median average peak-time download speeds for urban and rural areas in March 2022. The corresponding figure for March 2021 was just 15.6Mbps, when speeds were 52.7Mbps and 37.1Mbps for UK urban and rural areas, respectively.
March 2022 also revealed a 19% difference between urban and rural areas in terms of average evening peak-time speeds of 30Mbps or higher (86% vs 67% in favour of urban areas). This was 5% greater than the difference recorded in March 2021.
Conversely, the broadband report from Ofcom also highlights a 13% difference between March 2022 figures for broadband lines: the average peak-time download speed (of less than 10Mbps) was 3% lower than March 2021 stats, when respective urban and rural figures stood at 5% and 21%.
As of 2022, more than two-thirds (76%) of UK urban premises were connected by a gigabit-capable broadband connection, compared to less than 40% for rural areas. By contrast, just 35% of rural areas had full fibre broadband connectivity, compared to 43% of respective urban areas.
UK broadband connection statistics reveal that superfast broadband was the most common type of high-speed broadband connection as of 2022. Nearly all (98%) of UK urban premises, and 86% of UK rural homes and businesses, were connected with this type of internet.
Our exclusive data looked at broadband connectivity in councils across Great Britain. We looked at the percentage of premises with superfast and full fibre access in each council, as well as the median download and upload speeds, to give each council a connectivity score out of 10.
Our data found that England far exceeded Scotland and Wales for broadband connectivity, with each of the top 10 councils based in England. This dominance becomes even more evident further down our list, with 21st-placed Edinburgh the highest-ranking non-English council.
Kingston Upon Hull was found to be the best council for broadband connectivity, with a median download speed of around 122Mbps and a median upload speed of 47.1Mbps—the best recorded figures in our study. Though the East Yorkshire council topped our list, the rest of the top 10 is made up entirely of councils based in Southern England and the Midlands.
The West-Sussex town of Worthing provided the highest score of any southern council, with third-placed Derby finishing the highest of any Midland areas. Though Worthing’s average upload speed of 20.2Mbps was the second-highest in the top 10, its upload speed was around 3Mbps lower than eighth-placed Slough.
Though every council in the top 10 achieved superfast broadband access rates of over 99%, the scores for full fibre access were more modest. Only three councils in our list were found to have full fibre access rates above 90%, with Watford’s score of 65.5% providing the lowest figure in the top 10.
In direct contrast to our top 10, 70% of our lowest ranking councils for broadband connectivity came from Scotland. With a full fibre access score of 2.7% and a median upload speed of just 1.3Mbps, the Orkney Islands were found to be the worst place for broadband connectivity in the UK.
The Orkney Islands’ median upload speeds were 75% lower than the Shetland Islands, which finished second-last, with a full fibre access percentage of 4.4%.
Cumbria was responsible for two of the three non-Scottish councils in our bottom 10, with Copeland and Allerdale both recording median upload speeds below 6Mbps. The only other English council in our study was Richmond, which recorded a median download speed that was 73% slower than Kingston Upon Hull.
Though none of the councils in the bottom 10 had full fibre accessibility above 25%, the results for superfast broadband were more promising. Despite scoring low overall, all 10 councils in the bottom 10 had superfast accessibility percentages above 60%, with Copeland and Allerdale each recording scores above 90%.
Our exclusive data looked at the extent of a digital divide among councils across Great Britain. This study looked at the percentage of premises with superfast and full fibre access in each council, as well as the median download and upload speeds, to give each place a broadband connectivity score out of 10.
Coupled with this was the percentage of employees working in a technological-based industry to generate an index score for economic and employment within each council.
These two index scores were combined to create an overall digital divide score out of 10. A value closer to 10 indicates a greater extent of digital divide within the council, while a score closer to zero suggests a lesser gap between residents of that local authority.
*This percentage reflects anyone who works from home as part of their job.
According to broadband connection statistics from our study, Argyll and Bute ranks as the British council with the biggest digital divide. Generating a broadband index score of just 0.17 out of 10, just 5.8% of Argyll and Bute residents have access to full fibre broadband.
Coupled with this, less than a fifth (18.8%) of its population work from home, giving them an economic and employment score of 0.36, and thus making it the lowest scoring British council for this type of factor. Both these factors combined led to Argyll and Bute receiving an overall digital divide score of 9.79 out of 10.
Based on our broadband study, five of the top 10 most digitally divided councils in Great Britain are located in Scotland. Highland is placed second on the list with a score of 9.29 out of 10, with fourth-placed Dumfries and Gallway (9.21) the third Scottish council in the top five.
The West Cumbrian council of Copeland was found to be the most digitally divided council outside of Scotland. With a median upload speed of 5.4Mbps, and just 3.4% percent of the population with full fibre broadband access, Copeland finished third with a digital divide score of 9.26.
Copeland was joined in our top 10 by three more English entries, with Allerdale (9.17), West Lindsey (8.99), and Rochdale (8.72) finishing fifth, sixth, and ninth, respectively. Though Rochdale was found to score high for superfast broadband connectivity (98.8%), the Greater Manchester council had its score compromised due to its relatively low percentage of residents working from home (20%).
The most digitally divided council in Wales is Neath Port Talbot, which ranks as the tenth worst scoring British council overall. Just under a quarter of its population (22.21%) work from home and less than a fifth (17.6%) have access to full fibre broadband.
*This percentage reflects anyone who works from home at least partly for their job.
Broadband connection statistics from our Great Britain digital divide study reveal that Lambeth is the least digitally divided council in the country.
An impressive score of 0.66 out of 10 is attributed to:
Extremely high level of superfast broadband connectivity (98.9%).
Moderately fast download and upload speeds (58.6Mbps and 17.5Mbps, respectively).
Relatively high percentage of employees who work from home (53.8%) compared to other British councils.
Lambeth is followed in second place by fellow London boroughs Hackney and Wandsworth, which both received digital divide scores of 0.67. Nine of the top 10 least digitally divided cities are all based in the south of England, suggesting councils in northern England and other parts of Britain are disproportionately affected by the digital divide.
Rugby is the only non-southern council in our top 10, with the West Midlands town finishing tenth thanks to its high scores for superfast connectivity (98.5%) and people working from home (52.5%).
Outside of England, the City of Edinburgh was found to be the least digitally divided Scottish council. With an impressive full fibre coverage rate of nearly 75%, and median upload speeds of 71Mbps, the Scottish capital finished 16th overall with a digital divide score of 1.56.
The Vale of Glamorgan was the best-performing Welsh council, finishing joint-21st with a digital divide score of 1.73.
According to research by Uswitch, 11 million customers experienced broadband outages of three hours or more between 2021 and 2022. With more than 50% of the UK’s workforce still working from home in some capacity, this means significant disruption for UK employees and businesses.
The financial implications of this are estimated to be around £1.3 billion, highlighting the ever-growing importance of having a stable broadband connection in your home.
According to Uswitch broadband outage statistics, Nottingham was the UK city with the highest average downtime between the summers of 2021 and 2022.
Broadband customers here experienced on average more than 70 hours of downtime within the 12-month period. This is followed by Southampton, with almost 46 hours, then Manchester and Bristol—both with more than 38 hours of broadband connection problems across the year.
UK mobile phone statistics relating to outages indicate over 1,200 incidents were logged with Ofcom throughout 2022—an increase of 761 since 2021.
The number of fixed-network incidents rose from 426 in 2021 to 545 in 2022, and was broadly in line with the previous year-on-year variability. However, the number of mobile network incidents more than doubled, from 335 to 736 between 2021-22.
The average number of monthly reported incidents in 2022 stood at 95, compared to just 62 in 2021. The winter storms of 2021-22 had a significant impact on this, particularly during December-March when reported incidents peaked at 147 incidents.
Conversely, this was followed by a significant drop in reported outages in April 2022, when figures almost halved from the previous month to just 61.
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