A month has passed since our last coverage summary and the end of 2015 is rapidly approaching. The end of 2015 is significant since before the soft target of 90% superfast coverage for the 2015 General Election slipped away the various delays to the BDUK process already had the politicians driving the project preferring to use a target of the end of 2015.
Obviously for areas like the bottom 30 constituencies in the chart below hitting 90% coverage at 24 Mbps or faster is not going to happen, but the 90% was a national goal with the various projects setting their own targets, with some aiming for lower than 90% (Scotland) and some higher (Surrey).
So the UK now has five regions above the 90% mark and if coverage continues to grow at the current rates we can expect to see the West Midlands join this group for the November round-up.
|thinkbroadband calculation of Superfast, USC and Fibre
Broadband Coverage across the nations and regions for premises
In descending order of superfast coverage - figures 4th October 2015
(change since 6th September 2015)
|Area||% fibre based||% superfast
24 Mbps or faster
30 Mbps or faster
|% cable||% Openreach FTTP||% Under 2 Mbps USC||% Under 15 Mbps|
|South East||95.4%||91.7% (+0.6)||90.8%||47.7%||0.68%||0.5%||5.9%|
|East Midlands||93.8%||91% (+0.4)||90.3%||56.3%||0%||0.6%||5.4%|
|North East||93%||90.8% (+0.7)||90.4%||50.9%||0%||0.3%||5.3%|
|North West||93.6%||90.2% (+0.5)||89.5%||44.9%||0.34%||0.7%||7%|
|West Midlands||92.8%||89.7% (+0.5)||89.1%||60.6%||0.04%||0.5%||6.7%|
|East of England||89.6%||85.2% (+0.8)||84.3%||47.1%||0.28%||0.8%||9.7%|
|Yorkshire and Humber||86.6%||83.2% (+1.3)||82.4%||44.8%||2.71% (KC Lightstream)||0.7%||11.4%|
|South West||87.4%||81.7% (+1.2)||80.5%||39.7%||2.38%||1.1%||12.7%|
|Northern Ireland||94.5%||76.6% (+0.5)||75%||26.7%||0.03%||8.3%||19.6%|
As always you can check your own local constituency and areas coverage levels using our availability checker, we are acutely aware that even in an area which has 95% superfast coverage if you are one of the 5% that being in one of the best served areas does not help you, but that is the problem with project targets that are set for 100%.
The BDUK process and in particular Openreach are openly mocked over the performance of VDSL2 and their use of FTTC and the effect of this can be seen in the difference between the fibre based and superfast coverage figures. This problem is most acute in Northern Ireland but the gap is slowly closing as FTTP overlays appear in some limited areas and new fibre cabinets appear to serve outlying clusters of premises. Where the VDSL2 heavy roll-out does win is the pace at which it can be rolled out and while we know of people waiting for years for their cabinet to be completed, the situation would have been significantly worse if a FTTH heavy roll-out has been used. FTTC has allowed for greater coverage at a speed most people are happy with in a relatively short time frame.
The question moving forward is how far will the commercial operators go with their own current expansion plans. The existing BDUK projects aiming to deliver 95% superfast coverage are starting to get underway and planning for the final 5% carries on. The purely commercial side is looking at 200 Mbps cable broadband available to two thirds of premises in 2017, 10 million premises with access to G.fast by 2020 and 10 million FTTH premises via Sky and TalkTalk in the next couple of years.