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2.5 million homes have superfast broadband option via BDUK projects
Thursday 14 May 2015 18:11:04 by Andrew Ferguson

Announcing the breaking of the 2.5 million homes passed barrier is one of the first broadband releases to come out of the DCMS since the General Election. The exact figures are that as of 31st March 2015 the DCMS believed 2,411,395 premises had the option of ordering a 24 Mbps or faster broadband service as a result of BDUK activity. This figure excludes premises slower than 24 Mbps, and those who because of overspill could already get a superfast service e.g. Virgin Media cable.

With the roll-out passing around 5,000 premises every day, it is very safe now the General Election is over to declare the 2.5 million barrier smashed.

"Access to superfast speeds has never been more important, in both our home and working lives. The Government’s rollout of superfast broadband will make sure that rural homes and businesses are not left behind and that the UK is properly equipped to meet the challenges of the digital age."

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale
Cumulative to end of: Premises with superfast broadband service made available BDUK funding (£) Number of premises covered per £million of broadband delivery programme expenditure
December 2012 254 £434,735 584
March 2013 16,638 £6,767,185 2,459
June 2013 38,343 £6,767,185 5,666
September 2013 111,968 £10,347,568 10,821
December 2013 273,731 £14,182,547 19,301
February 2014 370,000 n/a n/a
March 2014 508,801 £58,586,408 8,685
June 2014 888,113 £72,437,233 12,260
September 2014 1,383,777 £99,766,011 13,870
December 2014 1,908,725 £252,084,918 7,572
March 2015 2,411,395 £301,444,870 7,999

The money in the above updated table reflects what the BDUK has handed over to the local authorities to date, and thus the money received by BT will comprise this plus whatever has been invoiced for and paid by the local authority. In terms of Westminster the amounts work out at £125 per premise passed, a figure that will roughly double once the local authority contribution is added, but this contribution varies from project to project, so simple projections are difficult.

As always people raise doubts over the coverage levels declared by the projects and the DCMS which is why we spend a lot of time working out where coverage is and what effect this will have for people in the various parts of the UK, hence our availability checker. As of 12th May the UK had superfast broadband available to 82.7% of premises based on our analysis, with a higher figure 87.3% having fibre as an option, the difference being that our superfast figures work to the 30 Mbps minimum speed target. The DCMS figures are based on a 24 Mbps minimum target speed. The coverage across the UK is far from uniform as the four nations image shows.

Superfast coverage of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
Click image for full size version

While the election may be over, the sub-division of the UK into 650 different areas is a great way to see quickly which parts of the UK are well behind the curve in terms of superfast broadband availability. Back in March 2015, our overall UK estimate was 81.3%, so if the same rate continues of 1.4% increase every 7 weeks the 90% availability of superfast broadband target will be hit in around 8 months time, so December 2015 or January 2016.

GB Superfast coverage as of 12th May 2015
Click image for full size version

Northern Ireland constituences are not available on this map, but can be browsed at labs.thinkbroadband.com/local

We should point out that the Superfast Broadband ambitions that have been in place since 2010 have never meant every community or local authority having at least 90% coverage and a uniform colour on our maps, but that the overall UK target 90% would be hit by May 2015, the end of 2016 is the most mentioned time frame. The fact it is an overall figure, means that the more rural areas may only see improvements to 40% or 50% coverage in the coming months, which while a major improvement will still leave plenty of work for the broadband extension projects currently being signed.

Comments

Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
It will be very difficult to bring superfast broadband to the final 10%. Public money must be seen to have been well spent. Is, for example, spending £30,000 bringing superfast broadband to 20 customers a good use of public funds? The extension projects are going to have to make these sorts of decisions. If, for example, these 20 customers are the last on an exchange not to have superfast broadband, should the money be spent?
Posted by gerarda about 1 year ago
or does the Govt spend £30,000 on drop on centres and mobile support centres so the people and businesses in those 20 premises can interact with Govt digital by default services?
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@gerarda
The point is that on my hypothetical cabinet 90% of the 200 premises were connected for £40,000 in phase 1 of BDUK. If you say that 200 premises were connected to superfast for £70,000, that sounds OK. It is when it is split down into two phases and the cost of connecting 20 premises for £30,000 is revealed, people will start to ask questions.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Chilting
The £301m so far from central pays for 12k installed cabs and perhaps another 2k in progress, or 13k in total. This £301m/13k (£23k) is almost exactly the figure the NAO found in Jan for Total Average Cost.

So the money is in the system (even before SEP) to go way beyond the 90% provided we get sight of BT's contribution (£750m headline - £550m if BT £2.5bn is true, or c£350m if we a bit more truth).
Resource and keeping project teams in place for the final 10% is more of a challenge than the funding.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
I think it's that sort of accounting that made BT and other operators think it was not going to be economic/profitable. They split each area down for maximum profit and cherry-picked all the lucrative ones, instead of looking at the country's infrastructure as a whole. Each individual area, to whatever level of granularity, has to pay for itself.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@ValueforMoney
But has anyone estimated just how much it will cost to upgrade small pockets of premises that are very widely scattered throughout the UK.
Clearly they cannot all be given FTTP and if their is no ducting to connect them to closer cabinets the costs will be very high. I am not talking about the final 1% but many more than that.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@valueformoney, remember the local councils are also adding some money, often matching the Westminster money, so you get a figure of £46k following your formula, and if BT are also paying a share the average price goes higher still.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@andrew NAO make clear the total average cost, so how would get a state aid payment above a 100% of cost, so budget is available.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Chilting - if you check the evidence provided to House Of Lords 2012 - you will find very rural communities being quoted £30k then for an instance of EO re-working. That was then seen as an extreme.
Really extreme is the H&I, but the highest I have seen so far is £35k The basic block is £5k for a cab, £5k to get it installed with a generance allowance for power and tie cabling. and the rest is putting in the connectivity. The cheapest I have seen is £2k. This is before BT contribution.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Andrew - BDUK monies could be paid first, as the £341m compares to the £392m+£126m in BT's accounts, so LA's and indeed BT contribution are not or cannot be concurrent. There is probably £40m for Cornwall and some advance payments, USC premums, and planning fees to may up the difference. There will those standard unit charges as well in the early contracts, which hopefully get returned.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@ValueforMoney
This is all very well in theory and I really do hope that you are right. However, I have been told that we cannot be connected to a cabinet just 500m from my premises because no ducting exists and the costs involved would be tens of thousands of pounds to install ducting. I am currently connected to a cabinet 2km away. It has even been hinted that we might be offered satellite vouchers as an alternative. Some of the premises on my postcode can only get ADSL at up to 2Mbps. The reason given was that it wasn't a good use of public money - 50+ premises would benefit.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Chilting - what county? I think I can prove it is not funding but resource. 50 Premises is more than 50% take up on 2 VDSL cards - if you can guarantee 35 premises that reaches the threshold of the first card, before BT installs a second. Plenty of fibe on poles so are you served on poles? £1.7bn state aid was not just to do the bits BT wanted.
You might be waiting some time but the money is there.
Posted by chilting about 1 year ago
@ValueforMoney
West Sussex. I have suggested an alternative route over my land and a neighbours - all soft land or could be on poles. Hopefully they will take us up on the offer. Unfortunately following the road route on poles is not an option - it is one of our sunken lanes with trees both sides.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Chilting if you look for UMSuG109_05.pdf you will see the majority of BT's commercial cabs have no more than 96 ports (2 cards), many with only 1 card.
So the mythical commercial cost models are not reliant on 20% take up, but filling the first card. So subsidy is needed but you should not be excluded.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Not excluded - just lots more simpler and lower hanging fruit available in the county I suspect.

Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Chilting W Sussex are way below the current NAO average (<£20k) so much so W Sussex have not even touched their own let alone BT funding.
That 2KM is tough but must be easier than the top of Leith Hill top of Coldharbour Lane on similar terrain - great work BT and SCC.
Resource issue and keeping peoples feet to the fire. Just a little more transparency and all excuses can be removed but you will have to wait.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@andrew - Lots of commuinities excluded from phase 1 planning or had to be as the planning assumed the costs in the model with the excess costs as the second NAO report.
Low hanging fruit by definition would need little gap fudning given BT has committed £12.4m to W.Sussez intervention area and existing are less than £20k. £12.4m will probably be £4m by the time BT has re-stated its commercial investment.
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
One thing that should be noted, that the roll-out in some areas isn't just a matter of money; it's of available resources.
OR have reported in webcasts recently that they've had to import a lot of labour from Eastern Europe as there's simply insufficient UK workforce to be hired. This means, money apart, more difficult targets will be avoided in order to maintain progress.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Andrew the restated £4m or c£65 capital per premise passed in the intervention area would be great to get confirmed.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@valueformoney so re-invest the spare to carry on, which is what Cornwall has done and is continuing to do.

Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
TheEulerID - definately so, but at least this could be acknowledged and @Chilting can be put on a to do list, not appended to a furher begging letter.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
I think if the UK was to do a serious FTTH roll-out it would be zero unemployment, and open doors to anyone who can be trained and lives in Europe and beyond, that is if a decent schedule was to be maintained that was anything at all like the FTTC one.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Andrew - indeed, So why SEP? However I doubt there is any hope of verifying BT's ,matched funding in Cornwall, but there is some hope of Select Commitees, National Audit Office, EU Commission bringing enough pressure to demand sight of BT's investment in the final third even if has to be re-stated.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
Andrew @ FTTH remains a 25 year plan to be done is less than 25 years. It does not negate FTTC, but forces acknowledgement of how cheap upgrading the E-side has been.
You could train the next generation of apprentices now and get that training paid for with the so called investment fund.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@Andrew - G.FAST can be used but lets not pretend an untested solution suddenly becomes a panacea. Minor adjustments on PST cost recovery and limiting state aid to non-active components and the picture changes very quickly, or can be if creates a better outcome for the UK economy.
Posted by TheEulerID about 1 year ago
On the amount of effort involved in rolling out FTTH, then it's instructive to look at just how long is took to get virtually universal household access to phone lines. Following WW II, it took something like a generation to finally get to the point where party lines were eliminated and waiting times for lines were reduced from what was sometimes a matter of years. That was in an era when the GPO (and, later the Post Office), could afford to put over 100,000 people into the effort. It was also when labour was much cheaper.
Posted by richardbwe about 1 year ago
Can we rely on the quoted coverage figures? From information published on about coverage in Leicestershire (on www.superfastleicestershire.org.uk) postcodes LE12 8RY and LE12 8RZ have SFBB - but so far only about 40% of them have it, the rest being on exchange only lines (though hoping for a cabinet soon). There are other similar cases, the problem being the caveat always given that "Superfast fibre broadband [is] now [or will be] available in parts of this area".
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@VFM
It's a bad assumption to state the "mythical" cost models aren't reliant on 20% takeup, based on UMSUG's then-current (in 2013) card volumes.

What makes you think that the card volumes, as they stood in 2013, represented a commercially-successful level of takeup?

BT appears to be expecting payback over a 12 year span, presumably with takeup (and card count) rising throughout. A snapshot after just 10-20% of this time isn't going to show lots of cabinets in a profitable position.

Using this to attempt to justify *anything* is just bad maths, bad statistics, and bad logic.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@VFM
"So Why SEP?"

Simple. The vast majority of BDUK isn't about leading the UK into ultrafast of any description (FTTH, Docsis 3.1, 5G or G.fast).

Its about mopping up behind market failure of superfast in the most cost-effective way.

You write a lot on here (erroneously, IMO) about how much money there is left, and how easy it would be to fund FTTH to many, many more. Unfortunately, doing this blinkers you to believe that BDUK is all about FTTH.

Government, like me, doesn't believe your numbers. Ergo SEP.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
WWWombat - If you start at £2.5bn/50,000 = £50,000 a cabinet, then 12 years might be understandable taking cross portfolio items into consideration.

But NAO evidence does point to a more typical cost closer to £20k for the commercial rollout. 20% of average 400 premises is 80 ports or less than two cards and is within one tie cable.
Perhaps other BT cost allocations demands more.
Happy for your estimate with a superior logic.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@WWWombat - BDUK was about 'best in Europe' and needing a mix of technogolies including some FTTH hence the budget. NAO report 1 found 20% of the £1.2bn was for future proofing - table 11/p33. This is no longer there, nor is the scale of project planning and a lower cabinet cost - hence the 38% excess costs in report 2. ..TBC..
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
..Phase 1 funds can only be absorbed if you accept average subsidy per cab is £1.2bn/c28,000 cabs =£42k. Total average cost for the first 8k cabs before BT subsidy was c£24k. With BT gap or contribution this should not exceed £16k ish.
I believe the question has some legitmacy.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
@wwwombat - note on Oxera state aid report clause 3.83, p44 - BT pay no capital for three years, so the total costs are just that.
At least we know.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
@vfm
1. When I've seen figures for £20k cost per cabinet, they tend to be the raw price for cabinet only - not including head-end, fibre spine, core network, survey or project management. Never mind all the demand stimulation activities either. 1,500 head ends, and 15,000 spines will sure help to gobble up the extra £1.5bn.

2. My guess stands at 2 full cards, on average, for viability.
NB: More recent UMSUG data:
http://postimg.org/image/a5yc2dcan/
...
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
3. Are you implying "future proofing isn't there" because BT suspended FoD? Invalid assumption ... Future proofing is "there" as physical fibre was laid, and remains present. It doesn't have to be sold tomorrow to remain valid as future-proofing.

4. I maintain you are better to use NAO's end-of-phase projection (25%) rather than the 38%. But agree that, whether 1% or 50%, this potentially holds back coverage plans for some counties.
...
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
5.The Oxera report doesn't look to say that, at least not directly. The two relevant parts are also slightly at odds...

In the first blob, describing capital clawback, it says that the difference between forecast costs and actual costs can be fully clawed back. No problem with that.

Note that this capital clawback is *not* the way in which BT pays for its contribution of the costs. This clawback is a way of ensuring that, when paid on the basis of forecast costs, and actual costs turn out lower, then the difference goes back to the LA.
...
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Footnote 74, associated with the first blob, says that BT is paid back the eligible cost as evidenced ... which means it can only claim once deployed, and can't quite claim for everything. This doesn't indicate whether the "evidenced, eligible" cost is based on actual or forecast.

The first blob goes on to say that capital clawback happens at the end of the deployment phase - which is where 3 years is mentioned as a typical figure.
...
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
So, after "typical" project life of 3 years, the LA gets back anything paid that is above actual expenditure.

This doesn't mean that BT pays no capital for 3 years. But it *does* mean that, *if* the amount paid is based on forecast cost, *and* the actual cost is lower, then BT ends up making lower capital contribution for up to 3 years. "Up to 3 years" realistically means a cabinet age of between 0 and 2.5 year, so an average of 1.25 years.
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