The UK which already has Gigabit fibre, 300 Mbps, 100Mbps and other services is starting to look a much better place for business and social internet use. The scale of the changes are highlighted by data from Point Topic which revel that there are more than two million subscriptions to superfast broadband services, representing 10% of the 21,300,000 fixed line broadband services in the UK.
"As Virgin and BT continue to grow their superfast subscriber numbers they are being joined by other players. From traditional giants like Sky to the smaller alternative networks, the superfast technologies are on the way to supremacy in the UK market.
Copper isn’t finished, it’s still an important part of the UK’s broadband strategy, but the days of sub-superfast are numbered. Super high-bandwidth options whether delivered over co-axial cable by Virgin Media or over an hybrid copper/fibre network by other players are now where the consumer sees the future.
There are parts of the UK today that are on a par with the most complete coverage available anywhere in the world. Challenges remain though. How will we reach the millions still without any broadband at all? Where are the plans for measuring the UK against the rest of Europe and the world? And how are we going to make high-speed internet access affordable for all? Until we can answer all of these satisfactorily we won’t be parading a gold medal for broadband any time soon"
The bulk of the improvements are the upgrades and upsell activity from Virgin Media, but Openreach FTTC and FTTP products are helping, adding 150,000 subscriptions in the last quarter. Importantly the competition to BT Infinity at the retail level is increasing, as TalkTalk and Sky start to push their own fibre services, and of course there is the dozens of smaller providers also selling the GEA Fibre services from Openreach.
Point Topic may not have the answers to how to drive take-up for superfast services, or improve coverage, but its monitoring of the roll-outs and demand does provide a data source independent of bodies like the BDUK.
In the UK we are very good at being self critical, and broadband coverage and speed is one area where negative coverage is always likely to gain press coverage. To give an example, if Google Fiber was made available in for example Chelmsford, there would be complaints about the villages outside the city not getting the service, and the cost of the service at £50 per month ($70+sales tax), oh and the fibre tubes are an unsightly blot on the landscape when added to the telegraph poles. Of course on the price front, there is the option of paying $300 with Google Fiber to get a free 5 Mbps service, but why install fibre to get distinctly ADSL/mobile type speeds?