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How close are the superfast projects to UK goal of 90%?
Monday 07 December 2015 09:11:36 by Andrew Ferguson

Last month saw Scotland hit its original 85% fibre based broadband goal and for those 1 in 6 premises in Scotland who have not seen any benefit yet there is still hope as we are seeing work continue. Northern Ireland still has clusters of premises that were too far from a cabinet to receive VDSL2 getting extra infill cabinets, England now a number of areas where native FTTP is rolling out to too.

The pace of roll-out in terms of cabinet numbers appears fairly stable still but the effect of each cabinet appears to be getting smaller as the footprint served by each new cabinet is smaller, which is something that will continue as the roll-outs do deeper into rural areas. The BDUK process is often accused of only focusing on peri-urban areas but we are seeing a real mixture of rural clusters of 50 to 100 premises benefit, larger villages and the classic estate on the edge of large urban areas.

One small but important change is revealed by the bottom 30 local authorities for coverage at 30 Mbps chart shown below, Stroud District council which is tenth from the bottom has just hit the 50% superfast coverage waypoint. Balancing the pace of roll-out against future proofing the roll-out is something that many opponents of the BDUK projects feel was got very wrong, but the continuing position of Kingston Upon Hull in the bottom 30 showcases what the various projects had focused on a FTTH heavy roll-out. The often overlooked side of the Openreach network architecture is that all the builds include the necessary fibre out to a point close to the active cabinets supplying VDSL2 currently so that extensions can be added to offer native FTTP or or fibre on demand (the v2 Gigabit version).

Superfast Broadband the 30 worst served areas of the UK
Thirty Local Authorities with the least superfast broadband coverage
thinkbroadband calculation of Superfast, USC, USO and Fibre Broadband Coverage across the UK, its nations and regions for premises
In descending order of superfast coverage - figures 5th December 2015
(change since 7th November 2015)
Area % fibre based % superfast
24 Mbps or faster
% superfast
30 Mbps or faster
% cable % Openreach FTTP % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 10 Mbps USO
London 95.4% 93.3% (+0.2) 92.9% 66.1% 1.4% 0.3% 1.9%
East Midlands 95.3% 92.4% (+0.4) 91.8% 56.3% 0% 0.6% 3.3%
South East 96.1% 92.3% (+0.1) 91.5% 47.7% 0.69% 0.5% 3.2%
North East 94.3% 92.1% (+0.7) 91.7% 50.9% 0.03% 0.3% 2.8%
North West 94.7% 91.2% (+0.3) 90.5% 44.9% 0.35% 0.8% 4.4%
West Midlands 93.6% 90.5% (+0.1) 89.9% 60.6% 0.04% 0.5% 4.1%
England 92.9% 89.4% 88.6% 51.1% 1.09% 0.6% 4.8%
United Kingdom 92.1% 88.2% 87.4% 48.5% 0.93% 0.8% 5.6%
Yorkshire and Humber 87.7% 84.1% (+0.2) 83.3% 44.8% 2.87% (KC Lightstream) 0.8% 7.7%
Wales 89% 83.8% (+0.4) 82.5% 28.5% 0.23% 0.9% 9.4%
South West 89.2% 83.5% (+0.5) 82.3% 39.7% 2.47% 1.1% 8.3%
Scotland 85.6% 81.6% (+0.5) 80.9% 39% <0.01% 1.2% 9.7%
Northern Ireland 94.8% 77.6% (+0.3) 76% 26.7% 0.06% 7.4% 14.3%

Our previous tables have not included England or the UK, but as the Westminster target of 90% coverage deadline is nearing it seemed appropriate to add them, and there is still a slim chance that England will hit 90% coverage at speeds of over 24 Mbps before Big Ben signals the start of a New Year, but for the UK it is looking more likely to happen in mid to late February 2016. Of course this means everyone can accuse those in charge of breaking promises etc, but in almost every other sphere of infrastructure a few months late would be considered a great success, if one wanted to be uber political one can dig out the promises of 90% by the General Election in 2015 at which point the defence that the six month delay from EU State Aid paperwork will get used.

One often overlooked aspect and for those with very rural slow ADSL complaining that FTTC has arrived for some premises but not theirs is that WBC ADSL2+ is being rolled out to more exchanges (including some without LLU, do note that not every exchange offering FTTC has WBC ADSL2+ installed) and while on very long lines of 6km or longer the sync speeds will be very much the same, on shorter loops there can be significant download speeds improvements, but almost everyone will benefit from the much improved IP Profile and faster upload speeds. The backhaul network for WBC based connections is also generally much better the old IPStream one, which can often mean less peak time congestion too.


Posted by ValueforMoney 10 months ago
It may be helpful to count the new fibre paths delivered.
To September I estimate 17,500 cabs. I estimated BT commercial cabs at 55,000.
That still much to be done but the monies are available to go much much further.
It is good progress, but a great deal more can be planned including much more FTTP if we a true up on the costs and BT's capital contribution which is I believe yet to be committed.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
By fibre paths is that a geeky way of saying how many fibre cabinets delivered?
Posted by TheEulerID 10 months ago
I suspect not. I think it means how many fibres have been laid out into the access network. Not just those directly supporting cabinets, but how many to the local concentration points which might be used for FoD or any future FTTP, FTTrN type deployment.
The BDUK process has often been considered to be short sighted, but the extension of fibre deeper into the network is of significant long term value.
Posted by Blackmamba 10 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
For each FTTC has a option/ potenchial to provide fibre to the home /Gfast plus fibre on demand from the local node this shows first on Openreach Where and when updated as required work flow. From this it is inportant to know the % of the Cabs in a exchange area that are FTTC looking at 100% coverage ,from this you will be looking at the 30 meg EU target 2020 using the above options.
Posted by ValueforMoney 10 months ago
@Andrew, the 17,500 cabinets will include c2,500-3000 AGNs with cof208 fibre bundle and tij's in between AGN and Cabinet.
It is also likely that c400 handover points have been added, as should the c18-20 submarine cables.
These are very welcome extentions of the UK Digital infrastructure. The FTTP part should also be saluted. The counts of FTTdp should also be celebrated.
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago

@blackmamba the government has already scrapped the superfast for all by 2020 in favour of what will be by then a ridiculously slow uso of 10meg. By my reckoning by the end of the year the government will have missed or scrapped 6 targets and achieved none
Posted by Dixinormous 10 months ago
@Blackmamba Is the Openreach website now detailing aggregation node construction?

Presence of cabs is nothing to do with availability of, FTTP or FTTPoD going forward, only FTTPoD right now.
Posted by ValueforMoney 10 months ago
@Dixinormous, but the presence of the AGNs and even the TIJ with excess fibre paid for by the state suggests constraining availability is purely a BT decision.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
@gerarda You cannot scrap a target you have not formally announced. 30 Mbps for EU was just an EU ambition, that when they destroyed the funding mechanism floated away.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
@ValueForMoney I thought I asked a simple question, but you've now complicated things beyond the point at which any sensible answer is possible.

If you want to commission a report then can give you my PayPal details.
Posted by TheEulerID 10 months ago
@gerarda perhaps you'd provide a link to where the government had promised 100% superfast. I don't think any such target has ever been set in the UK, but I'm happy to be corrected.
Posted by ValueforMoney 10 months ago
@Andrew - there just the components you can read on any BT NGA presentation.
POSI to HOP to AGN to Tij to Cabinet to DP -simple hierarchy with known quantities and predictable relationships.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
@valueformoney I know what the components are and the structure Openreach are deploying, so which parts make up your 55,000 and 17,500 figures which was my original easy question.
Posted by ValueforMoney 10 months ago
@Andrew it might help if your useful staistical data was overlayed with a table of updated components.
OR system size 25.5m lines
BT commercial est 20.6m premises passed with 55.6k cabinets.
BDUK - 3.31m premises passed by 17,500 cabinets.
Includes BDUK re-arranged EOLs
Posted by ValueforMoney 10 months ago
You can then estimate what is left to do? It may assist poeples understanding if the component counts are used next to the percentages.
Posted by Somerset 10 months ago
@VFM - I believe you have realised that you are now at the stage where you cannot produce any useful numbers because you do not know the detail.

As an example a node by a cabinet has 1.5km of 48 fibre cable installed to another cabinet. Blown in after numerous blockages cleared. Then a 4 tube fibre from there to the next cabinet.

How do you cost that?
Posted by Somerset 10 months ago
@VFM - what components do you want counted? How many UK premises?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
@valueformoney and how does this help the average person or SME who just wants to know if they can order a faster service?

If you want more detail from us so you can work on a white paper then the path is open to commission the data you require.
Posted by Blackmamba 10 months ago
Hi ValueforMoney.
All is required is the total number of Cabs not got fibre to them in each OLD group switching area that them also covers EO lines plus remote exchanges which may be in other counties. From this you will be able to see approx when the UK will hit the 90%. ( Surrey has only a few that have not got access to fibre and most of them are in the 15 meg radius from exchange.) my area code is 01428
Posted by Somerset 10 months ago
@BM - the clockwork network you knew 30 years ago has no connection with the current configuration.
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
@Andrew and TheEulerID

The government was still promising 30Mbps far all as recently as last March. point 6
Posted by Somerset 10 months ago

The Government’s broadband programme also 'supports' the following 'goals' of the Digital Agenda for Europe:
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
Supporting an EU goal isn't the same thing as having committed funding to reach that target. There is no attempt at promising to meet anything whatsoever there!

Just like the 2009 Labour party goal for a 2Mbps USC wasn't a funded commitment or promise. For an obviously outgoing, lame duck, parliament with no money to spend, it was an early election manifesto.

Personally I think it was a sound decision to replace this with funded targets based on the "superfast" speeds, and to leave the USC to happen as a "fortunate coincidence".
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
A goal is a target. Just more broken promises and dodgy dossiers.
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
In fact that document gave them two years to do to a few fill ins after the target of near universal superfast coverage by 2018 was achieved.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 10 months ago
I have a goal of being a millionaire and retiring early, that does not make it a promise but an aspiration.

If it was all hollow promises then with a bit of tweaking to services, they could have announced a 30 Mbps USO in Autumn Statement and funded this with USC money and not bother with any pilots for the final 5%.
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
@Andrew .you are not an elected government. Your failure to achieve your goals does not impact millions of other people. Governments are elected on the basis of promises, targets etc and are expected to deliver. The fact that we are accustomed to them failing to do so does not negate that.
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
Are you suggesting 6 TIJ's per AGN?

I can expect that in urban areas, where, say, cabinets appear quite closely along a main road, while their service area is a sausage shape along perpendicular roads.

But is it true for rural areas too?

Or is it more for the outer tails of the main spines?

Do your stats include TJ's too? I expect these to be complete splice junctions in the spine (ie between AGN and handover node, or between AGN's).
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
You need to watch word usage by politicians better.

They most certainly need to express the fact they agree with a goal without setting themselves a target to be an active part of attaining that goal.

Equally, they have to be able to distinguish between a target they have set, but which remains unattainable because they haven't got the funding yet.

You're being duped by your own dogmatic attitude here. It means you are inventing promises that never existed, and castigating the failure to meet them.
Posted by gerarda 10 months ago
@gerarda Everyone is being duped if you have to watch the wording. On the basis of your reasoning the USO of 10Mbps is neither a promise nor a target as it is not costed nor is there a plan as to how it is to be delivered
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
Words have meanings. If you choose not to use the meaning, you lose the art of communication. Following your own dogma pretty much requires you to do this.

Politicians are great at spin, so you have to watch their words. You seem to excel at anti-spin, and need to be equally watched.

You're right about the 10Mbps USO. It isn't a promise or a target, hasn't been costed, and hasn't been planned.

As yet, there is no 10Mbps USO.

The biggest commitment made, so far, is that the government would like to set a 10Mbps USO, and have committed to running a consultation next year.
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
The best statement we have so far is that government agree with the principle of a 10Mbps USO ... and it is key to get that agreement out of them.

But they have no idea how to achieve it. They have no idea how to fund it - or even whether any funding will come from the government.

There is, as yet, no promise of 10Mbps. Just a promise to start trying.

As an example, you couldn't have picked a better one to show the meaning behind words.
Posted by Blackmamba 10 months ago
Hi Gerarda.
I am under the inpression that the window from 2 meg -10meg is classed as basic and I think that the LA are trying to hit 24 meg as the lowest this is dragging the section higher up the Higheracky by using FTTC if this result is not met and is to costly it will be covered by other options. You can see the patten that is emerging from the new updated Thinkbroadband checker on the post codes.
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