The UK ranks 31st in the world for broadband speed with an average speed of 16.51Mbps. At May 2017, OFCOM reported 100 per cent coverage in the UK at a download speed of 44Mbps, up from 37Mbps in 2016. Superfast broadband is now available in 91 per cent of the UK at a speed of 77Mbps and OFCOM are continually working to boost superfast and ultrafast connections. There were 26 million fixed broadband connections in the UK at the end of 2017, 49 per cent of which were superfast connections.
In 2018 87 per cent of UK adults (aged 16+) had broadband internet access at home. The most frequently cited reason for not having internet access was that they did not need it (45 per cent). Of adults without home internet access, 14 per cent said they were likely to get it in the next year. Home internet access varies significantly according to age group. At the beginning of 2019, 95 per cent of those aged 16 to 24 reported they had home internet access, as opposed to only 75 per cent of those aged over 55+.
In 2018 the most popular internet activity was general browsing, with 69 per cent of adults having browsed the internet in the past week. Sending emails was the second most common activity, with 66 per cent of adults reporting to have done this in the last week. Just under half of adults (44 per cent) reported they had shopped online in the last week, a reduction from 76 per cent in 2017, and around half of UK adults had used online banking and social media in the last week. In 2016, 42 per cent of internet users claimed to use the same password for most, if not all websites and in 2018, a quarter of internet users said they did not carry out appropriate checks before entering their personal or financial information online.
In the UK 77 per cent of internet users had a profile or account on a social media or messaging site or app in 2018, unchanged since 2016. Facebook remained the most-visited social platform, reaching 41 million internet users aged 13+ in 2018 (90 per cent of the total UK internet audience). However Facebook began to see a downward trend in the number of people aged under 35 accessing the platform; with the number of people aged 18 to 24 decreasing by 4 per cent in the year to March 2018, in contrast, visitors among those aged over 54 increased to 24 per cent (2.2 million people) in the same period. Snapchat and Facebook-owned Instagram saw an increase in online audiences, with 22.7 million adults visiting Snapchat in March 2018, fractionally less than Instagram with 23.1 million. However, Snapchat had much larger year-on-year growth than Instagram (122 per cent, compared with 22 per cent). Much of the growth was driven by an increased number of adults aged 25+ visiting the platform.
In March 2018 the organisation with the largest online audience in the UK was Google (41.9 million unique visitors aged 18+), closely followed by Facebook and BBC (40.2 million and 39.5 million respectively) and Amazon (37.7 million), pushing Microsoft down to fifth place with 37 million unique visitors. Within the Google portfolio, YouTube was the most popular platform (40 million), followed by Google Search (37 million), Google Maps (25 million) and Gmail (23 million).