Picture of current rural and urban broadband divide in Great Britain

Picture of current rural and urban broadband divide in Great Britain and Northern Ireland

It is a while since we last shared our data on the position of the rural and urban areas of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and while the BDUK projects, community schemes and some commercial roll-out in rural areas has improved your chances of superfast broadband in rural areas 1 in 8 rural premises still only have options of a connection below 30 Mbps.

Superfast broadband (30 Mbps and faster) coverage in the rural and urban areas of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The superfast picture in the last year has changed, at the end of January 2018 the urban part of Great Britain was at 98%, rural 85.2% and the deep rural subset 72.2%. So we can see that the big changes are still in the rural areas of the UK.

Picture of current rural and urban broadband divide in Great Britain
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) coverage in the rural and urban areas of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The situation when you look at full fibre has been the inverse of the superfast picture for some years and the rise of the FTTP building machine is visible when you consider 12 months ago 2.9% of urban areas had an FTTP option, 4.2% of rural areas and 6.9% of the deep rural areas.

thinkbroadband analysis of rural and urban broadband coverage across Great Britain and Northern Ireland figures 12th February 2019


% full and partial fibre based

VDSL2, or

% superfast
24 Mbps or faster

% superfast
30 Mbps or faster

% Ultrafast
100 Mbps or faster
FTTP, cable,

Full Fibre All Providers

Openreach and KCOM FTTP

% Under 2 Mbps download

% Below USO
10 Mbps download
1 Mbps upload ADSL2+ does not count as USO compliant

Great Britain Urban

22,760,068 premises

98.6% 98.4% 98.2% 68.1% 5.14%
0% 1.4%

Great Britain Rural

6,187,581 premises

96.1% 87.6% 86.5% 15.2% 7.59%
2.3% 8.2%

Great Britain Deep Rural

3,461,695 premises (subset of the Rural category)

94.3% 79.6% 77.8% 12.5% 9.82%
4% 13.2%

Belfast Metropolitan

282,459 premises

99.2% 98.9% 98.8% 82.7% 14.66%
0.1% 0.9%

Northern Ireland Small Village

199,912 premises

98.3% 60.6% 58% 11.9% 11.38%
16.8% 28.1%

Northern Ireland Large Town

113,432 premises

99.8% 98.9% 98.7% 28% 20.73%
0.1% 0.4%

Northern Ireland Small Town

55,640 premises

99.5% 97.2% 96.7% 12.4% 12.42%
0.1% 0.8%

Northern Ireland Medium Town

48,855 premises

99.9% 99% 98.6% 32.8% 28.44%
0.1% 0.4%

Derry (NI) Urban

40,025 premises

99.5% 98.7% 98.7% 80.8% 7.14%
0.2% 1%

Northern Ireland Village

31,672 premises

99.9% 95.8% 95.2% 9.3% 7.48%
0.8% 1.9%

Northern Ireland Intermediate Settlement

31,622 premises

100% 98% 97.5% 5.5% 5.38%
0.2% 0.9%

ONS rural/urban classifications at the postcode level are used, Northern Ireland is presented on its own since it has its own definitions of what constitutes rural and urban. The charts higher up the article include smaller sub divisions for Great Britain which have been omitted from the table for brevity.

While it is possible to express these results in terms of population this would be reliant on the ONS 2011 census and estimates for population change since then, therefore we only quote the number of premises which it is easier to track. As the commercial roll-outs of full fibre ramp up we fully expect the urban areas to catch up and pass the rural areas in terms of FTTP availability. This all leads to our conclusion that around 2026/2027 that the Government is likely to launch another scheme to address the resulting imbalance, since we would not be surprised if in 2025 that urban FTTP coverage is running at around 60 to 65% and rural Great Britain is languishing with FTTP coverage at around 20 to 25%.

Update 5:45pm The final column in the table has been updated from just the percentage under 10 Mbps to reflect the broadband Universal Service Obligation definition of delivering at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

The premises figures have also changed with some small 0.1% changes in the FTTP figures reflecting the new premises added to our broadband model in the last 24 hours.

The Belfast Metropolitan area was missed from the original table and has now also been added.


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This is the best place to live in Northern Ireland according to The Sunday Times

It’s official, the best place to live in Northern Ireland has been named. If the beach and lovely seaside views are your thing then you need to move here. Ballycastle in Co Antrim1 has been named as the best place to live in Northern Ireland according to The Sunday Times Best Places To Live guide.

The coastal town was revealed as the overall regional winner2 for Northern Ireland beating South Belfast3 , Cultra, Enniskillen, Portstewart and Rostrevor to take the crown. The Best Places to Live supplements in The Sunday Times assess a wide range of factors, from jobs, exam results and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops in order to compile the definitive top locations to make your home. The methodology relies on hard data and robust statistics on crime and education, but also on expert knowledge from The Sunday Times judging panel.

The judges combine the numbers with their own experience of the villages, towns and cities, such as local pubs, ease of transport and the range of attractive property to ensure the chosen locations truly are places where readers and their families can thrive.

poll loading

Is Ballycastle the best place to live in Northern Ireland?


YES, it’s the best place in the world never mind just NI NO, I’d rather live anywhere else


  1. ^ Co Antrim (
  2. ^ overall regional winner (
  3. ^ South Belfast (

New ‘ultrafast’ BT broadband roll-out comes to Antrim

Antrim will be one of the first regions in the UK to secure the next generation of broadband, BT has announced. The firm’s new ‘’ network will deliver speeds up to 330Mb a second. That’s 10 times the UK average.

Around 4,000 homes and businesses will be able to access the connection, with the aim of 200,000 being able to use it across Northern Ireland by 2020. Mairead Meyer, managing director of networks at BT in Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted to announce that parts of Antrim will be among the first locations in the UK to get ultrafast speeds using technology. We recently rolled out ultrafast in Newtownards and it proved very successful for local residents and we look forward to offering Antrim the same benefits.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said: “We warmly welcome this announcement given how important access to fast broadband is to the business community.”

Belfast Telegraph