BT Group has published it latest set of quarterly figures and they indicate that BT Consumer division (BT Retail) is still winning the majority of the FTTC business within the UK. The good news is that the fibre based broadband network from Openreach is now available to some 20 million homes and growing at a rate of around 70,000 extra premises per week as new cabinets go live.
"We have passed more than 20m premises with our fibre broadband rollout. We achieved 341,000 net fibre connections, an increase of 29%. That brings the number of homes and businesses connected to more than 3m, 15% of those passed. Overall DSL and fibre broadband market net additions were 163,000, 14% down on last year.
Capital expenditure decreased 8%. While our commercial fibre build is nearing completion, we have increased the overall intensity of our fibre rollout through the BDUK programme. We received grant funding of £73m (Q1 2013/14: £12m) relating to the BDUK programme with the increase from last year broadly offsetting the overall increase in our fibre capital expenditure. Operating cash flow increased 11%."Extract from Openreach section of results for 1st quarter to 30th June 2014
Openreach with 3 million customers via various retail providers signed up on its FTTC and FTTP networks is showing a reasonable level of take-up at 15% and as demand for faster broadband increases driven largely by video-on-demand services the take-up level is likely to increase. For the BDUK projects once 20% is hit within an intervention area clawback mechanisms kick-in so that the County Council partner gets some of their investment back and can either return this to their coffers, or re-invest in pushing fibre based services deeper into rural areas.
The BT Consumer division is out pacing the growth of the other large broadband providers, adding 104,000 new broadband customers in the last quarter and now has over 7.4 million customers on a broadband service. The idea that all fibre based broadband is called Infinity is something that other providers are fighting but with 226,000 out of the 341,000 fibre connections in the last quarter it looks like an up hill struggle to convince the public that fibre based connections are available from a wide number of broadband providers at the retail level.
Hopefully as the commercial roll-out phase for fibre based broadband slows down, those areas where they can see FTTP infrastructure partially built will see the final bits of work completed over the next few months and the online checkers will finally allow them to place an order for a 40 Mbps, 80 Mbps or faster service. Some 150,000 premises can order FTTP on the Openreach network at this time, but more should have it available, the problem is one of limited resources and with pressure to hit deadlines for the BDUK projects there is a risk that people may have to wait even longer.