The communication services many of us enjoy and rely on – from television and radio, to mobile and internet – are regulated by Ofcom.
Location data gives Ofcom an accurate picture of where people are, and what services are available in different parts of the UK – to help make communications work for everyone.
Ofcom manage the airwaves powering all wireless services, help protect people from harmful content, and make it easier for us all to get the best from our phone and internet providers.
In 2020, the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) was launched, giving every home and business in the UK the right to request a decent, affordable internet connection.
Ofcom is responsible for rolling out the new scheme, with British Telecommunications plc (BT) and Kingston Communications (KCOM) delivering USO connections and services. Ofcom’s new role relies on having a highly detailed view of the broadband services available across the UK – right down to every property.
For the USO to work, Ofcom needed to gather address-level information to identify properties that didn’t have access to a decent connection, and develop a standard definition of properties to define the scope of the scheme.
To gain the level of insight needed to roll out the USO, Ofcom worked with both Ordnance Survey (OS) and GeoPlace.
As a Public Sector Geospatial Agreement (PSGA) member, Ofcom benefits from both OS’s AddressBase Premium (used to inform its Connected Nations coverage reports) and AddressBase Islands (used to ensure a consistent UK approach to property information).
By drilling down to the individual property level, including additional features (such as PO boxes, and larger organisations) the enhanced information needed was sourced – leading to better communication services for all.
Working alongside both OS and GeoPlace, Ofcom also developed their approach for the identification of ‘service delivery addresses’. This included the comprehensive records from local land and property gazetteers – leading to improved data matching between customers and services providers, and the ability to accurately assess mobile and internet connectivity for all UK homes and businesses.
Ofcom has been able to successfully rollout the USO – meaning more people across the UK are now able to access good-quality internet connections – supporting online work and study, access to essential services – including healthcare and banking, shopping and socialising. Enhanced property-level data is also helping support Ofcom’s policy analysis and the information and advice they provide to consumers.
By using the Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) as a ‘golden thread’, Ofcom can now share large data sets more efficiently with government departments and administrations across the UK, providing a deeper understanding of property-level internet and mobile services, now, and for the future.
It’s expected that the widespread adoption of UPRNs will lead to even more accurate customer information - giving everyone access to fast, efficient, personalised digital services.
"Having a clear picture of the coverage and performance of the UK’s networks is crucial to our work in helping bring better broadband and mobile services to people. Using the OS AddressBase suite of products means we’re able to home in on the detail about broadband services available to different parts of the country, like never before. It also means we can publish this detailed data – offering people, businesses and others an insight into how broadband services compare across the UK."Gary Clemo, Director of Data Innovation
OS Open UPRN
A dataset of unique identifiers for every addressable location in Great Britain, containing all Unique Property Reference Numbers (UPRNs) and geometry from AddressBase Premium.
Our flagship address database, AddressBase® Premium gives you up to date, accurate information about addresses, properties and land areas.
AddressBase® Islands delivers the detail for Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands which you find in AddressBase Plus and AddressBase Premium.