When the DCMS published a set of take-up rates for the BDUK projects back in 2014 it drew a lot of criticism with people questioning the wisdom of the spending or the technology choice for the roll-outs, but unlike community led projects or demand registration schemes which have immense levels of engagement even before the first spade hits the ground, for the average UK resident in a BDUK area they are many other more pressing needs on their time.
Worcestershire shocked some people when it published data showing just a 3.2% take-up rate in September 2014, but Mark at ISPreview spotted a newer figure stating that the take-up rate on the BDUK cabinets was now at 10%. The first cabinet went live in May 2014, and since then the council is declaring the project has providing the option of fibre based broadband to some 16,110 premises.
Looking at the data we are tracking for Worcestershire we saw the median speed peak at 16 Mbps in June 2014, but has since dropped to 12.2 Mbps by December 2014. This drop tracks a pattern we saw in the second half of 2014 with Virgin Media connections (cable is available to 25% of households in Worcestershire), i.e. the speed upgrades had finished and usage had expanded to start contending that network again.
|Broadband Speeed Tests in Worcestershire|
|Period||Lower quartile||Median Download||Upper Quartile||Lower Quartile||Median Upload||Upper Quartile|
|Dec 2008||1.2 Mbps||2.3 Mbps||3.9 Mbps||0.4 Mbps||0.4 Mbps||0.5 Mbps|
|Dec 2009||1 Mbps||2 Mbps||4.4 Mbps||0.4 Mbps||0.4 Mbps||0.6 Mbps|
|Dec 2010||1.2 Mbps||2.6 Mbps||4.5 Mbps||0.4 Mbps||0.4 Mbps||0.7 Mbps|
|Dec 2011||1.7 Mbps||3.5 Mbps||6.8 Mbps||0.3 Mbps||0.6 Mbps||0.8 Mbps|
|Dec 2012||1.9 Mbps||4.2 Mbps||11.5 Mbps||0.4 Mbps||0.7 Mbps||1.1 Mbps|
|Dec 2013||3 Mbps||6.4 Mbps||24 Mbps||0.4 Mbps||0.8 Mbps||4.3 Mbps|
|Dec 2014||3.8 Mbps||12.2 Mbps||36.5 Mbps||0.6 Mbps||1 Mbps||6 Mbps|
The speed tests of course represent a mixture of cable and the commercial FTTC roll-out in the county, and with a declared total 176,000 premises passed from Openreach (which may still be growing by the odd cabinet that was delayed) this still outweighs the 16,000 premises from the BDUK project. The BDUK project aims to intervene for some 55,000 premises so clearly still has a long way to go to reach the original goal of 90% with fibre based broadband.
Back in October 2014 our estimate for the fibre based coverage in Worcestershire was 73%, but this has now grown to 80%. When you add the superfast qualifier the figures are 64% rising to 72% which highlights the level of work remaining.