Ofcom release Wi-Fi Checker app & review of telecoms networks of the UK

Telecoms & wireless UK network coverage

According to the global ITC Development Index 2015 the UK is now one of the top five countries in the world when it comes to growth in developing information and communication technology access.

However, according to Ofcom, almost six million UK homes and businesses could improve their wireless broadband. A broadband service can lose its speed by the way Wi-Fi has been set-up or could be receiving interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave or even a lamp.

To help check the quality of your wireless internet signal, Ofcom has released a free Wi-Fi Checker app and is available for both Android and Apple Smartphones. The new Ofcom app is launched alongside Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2015 report – an authoritative and in-depth review of telecoms and wireless networks of the UK and its nations. The report concludes progress has been made in broadband availability and use of communications services, but highlights the need to improve the quality of service for consumers and businesses across the UK.

The coverage and quality of fixed broadband services across the UK has increased markedly over the past year. Superfast broadband is now available to over 8 out of 10 UK homes (83%, almost 24 million), up from 75% in 2014. This increase is due, in part to ongoing BT fibre network, Virgin Media customers upgrading to a faster service, and the Government’s on-going Broadband Delivery UK programme extending superfast broadband into areas not covered by the commercial market.

But Ofcom has identified challenges in improving coverage across the UK. Around 8% of UK homes (approximately 2.4 million) are currently unable to receive broadband speeds of 10 Mbit/s or above. This accounts for almost 50% of all rural customers (1.5 million), where speeds are often affected by the distance from the nearest telephone exchange.

For UK businesses who rely on broadband services, Ofcom suggest for 68% (almost 7 out of 10) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) ‘superfast’ broadband is now available. This is an increase from 56% in 2014.
However, almost half of SMEs (around 130,000) in areas like business parks are still unable to receive speeds above 10Mbit/s. Ofcom estimates that by 2017, 95% of all UK premises will have superfast broadband, but approximately 18% of SMEs will still not have access to a ‘superfast’ broadband service.

Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “Mobile and broadband have become the fourth essential service, alongside gas, electricity and water. There’s been a technological revolution over recent years, with 4G mobile and superfast continuing to extend across the country.

“Our challenge is to keep supporting competition and innovation, while also helping to improve coverage across the country – particularly in hard-to-reach areas, where mobile and home internet services need to improve.”

Ofcom is promoting the removal of barriers to allow smaller providers to invest in new network deployments, which often serve areas with little or no existing coverage; and is working with the Government in improving availability of ‘superfast’ broadband services across the whole of the UK.

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