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UK hits the 90% superfast broadband coverage target
Friday 08 April 2016 00:00:11 by Andrew Ferguson

Anyone who has been following our monthly updates should not be too unduly surprised by the announcement now that the UK has superfast broadband available to 90% of households. Our tracking of what Openreach, KCom and Virgin Media have delivered saw the 90% barrier broken on Tuesday 5th April and the precise figure as of 7th April 2016 is 90.012%, so no rounding up to get to the magic 90%.

To illustrate how things have changed just compare the image of superfast broadband coverage in Great Britain in April 2010 with that of April 2016. For those in Northern Ireland we have not forgotten you, there is our public map and these images from April 2016 and March 2015. For those who prefer a grey scale map we have an April 2016 UK Constituency map.

Variations in superfast coverage in local authorities when UK hits overall 90% target
Levels of Superfast Broadband Coverage in Great Britain 7th April 2016
GB Superfast Broadband Coverage April 2016
How little superfast broadband was available in 2010 in Great Britain
Levels of Superfast Broadband Coverage in Great Britain 31st March 2010

The 2010 map (UK - 49.8%) is mainly just a map of the Virgin Media footprint with a little VDSL2 from Openreach, when the first BDUK gap funded cabinet was delivered in December 2012 (UK - 67.5%) the map was showing more green but still a long way short of the 90% we have now reached. Importantly there is no sign of the roll-outs slowing down yet and with Virgin Media expanding, KCom announcing an accelerated roll-out in Hull and a more fibre rich roll-out on the way from Openreach ( and FTTP mix) we might start to see the ultrafast figures emulating the last few years superfast ones.

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 7th April 2016
(change since 7th March 2016)
Area % fibre based % superfast
24 Mbps or faster
% superfast
30 Mbps or faster
% Ultrafast
100 Mbps or faster
% Openreach FTTP % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under proposed 10 Mbps USO
London 95.3% 94.0% (+0.3) 93.7% 68.1% 1.45% 0.2% 1.5%
South East 96.8% 93.9% (+0.2) 93.3% 48.9% 0.75% 0.5% 2.7%
East Midlands 96.2% 93.8% (+0.6) 93.4% 56.8% 0% 0.5% 2.7%
North East 95.1% 93.2% (+0.4) 92.8% 51.1% 0.04% 0.3% 2.3%
North West 95.4% 92.5% (+0.6) 91.9% 46.0% 0.48% 0.8% 3.7%
West Midlands 94.7% 92.4% (+0.3) 92.0% 61.8% 0.08% 0.5% 3.3%
England 93.9% 91.1% (+0.5) 90.5% 52.9% 1.18% 0.6% 4.0%
United Kingdom 93.3% 90.0% (+0.5) 89.4% 50.1% 1.02% 0.8% 4.8%
East of England 92.3% 88.8% (+0.3) 88.1% 47.8% 0.36% 0.8% 5.3%
South West 91.9% 87.0% (+0.9) 86.1% 42.9% 2.59% 1.1% 6.6%
Wales 91.1% 86.7% (+0.5) 85.6% 29.3% 0.51% 0.9% 7.9%
Yorkshire and Humber 89.0% 85.8% (+0.5) 85.1% 48.6% 3.19% (includes KCom Lightstream) 0.7% 6.8%
Scotland 88.1% 84.2% (+0.6) 83.4% 39.4% 0.01% 1.3% 8.6%
Northern Ireland 96.4% 79.5% (+0.8) 77.9% 27.3% 0.10% 7.0% 13.6%
Ultrafast figures include contribution made by alt-net FTTH/P providers, Virgin Media, Openreach and KCom FTTP. Superfast, USO, USC figures are based on just the main three providers Openreach, KCom and Virgin Media.

Northern Ireland has woken up after a period of just extra infill cabinets, as we are now seeing cabinets going live under the Superfast Extension Project (SEP) and this is also happening in other parts of the UK and will continue as the race towards the deadline of 95% in 18 months time. Scotland has at last made the entry level 0.01% Openreach FTTP figure, leaving the East Midlands the only region still counting as zero on that front.

Hopefully the variation across even just the UK regions will help to illustrate how different the coverage can be in the different parts of the UK, and there are still people who are yet to see any change in their broadband service since 2009 but that number is shrinking weekly which probably explains why those still waiting are getting ever more vocal.

While the 24 Mbps 90% target has been reached we are not going to stop tracking the coverage, our next goal is see the 90% breached for 30 Mbps and faster services and then track how the UK is progressing towards the 95% goal, and there will also be the roll-outs to start tracking. The rise in the Openreach FTTP figures is a mixture of gap funded native FTTP for rural areas and identifying new build estates that have had native FTTP installed in the few 12 months as well as the KCom roll-out in Hull.

Coverage for the slowest users in the UK is improving, but we see more movement in the proposed Universal Service Obligation figure of 10 Mbps compared to the 2 Mbps Universal Service Commitment one, the numbers are dropping but as postcodes falling into the 2 Mbps are often the ones with the least premises the effect on the statistics is often minimal.

From the 400+ local authorities across the UK, there are now just five with superfast coverage under 50%, City Of London, Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles), Kingston Upon Hull, Orkney and Shetland Islands. If you look at the 650 Parliamentary Constituencies there are six under 50%, Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles), Kingston upon Hull East, Kingston upon Hull North, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, Orkney and Shetland and Ross Skye and Lochaber. 433 out of the 650 constituencies are above the 90% mark, 548 at 80% or better, 585 at 75% or better and 610 at 70% or better.


Posted by trolleybus 7 months ago
Can only look on with envy as for both my business sites their cabinets have not been upgraded for FTTC. On top of that must family members have at best 15Mbps and often some distance from the cabinet giving at best sub 10Mbps.

Perhaps your surveys should now concentrate on the have-nots? Would be nice to know if any uplift in speed is likely to happen any time soon.
Posted by comnut 7 months ago
yes... and 40% of 24Mbits is????? :/
Now do the UK map with actual speed...
Posted by fastman 7 months ago
so where are you business sites then trolley bus
Posted by comnut 7 months ago
yes, your 'broadband map' may do it, but too many 'if's, and not enough clarity as this map..
Using 'percentage' sounds more like a politician saying it...
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
@comnut please do look beyond the eye candy of the map, we are monitoring the slow postcodes, hence USC, USO postcodes and a wealth of data such as
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
@trolleybus - We could simply invert the figures and say 10% cannot get superfast yet. Still the same thing.

Should make it clear this is not a user survey but analysis of what is available in over 1.7 million postcodes.
Posted by M100 7 months ago
Perhaps the postcode areas covered only by Virgin could be indicated separately?

Then we'd be able to more accurately gauge where the customer has genuine choice in the customer facing service provider,

In the case of areas only covered by Openreach the customer has numerous choices, in the case of an area only served by Virgin they have just one.

Also to what level of granularity is this map produced, the first half of the postcode, or more?
If the former then what level of coverage is required within that area to declare that area is serviced, 51%? 95%?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
@M100 If you do the postcode search at then we do split out Virgin Media cable

The map is built from 1.7 million individual postcodes, which are then aggregated into the council/local authority/constituency

We can do more detailed maps if there are specific useful requests
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
So ward level, census area and first half of postcode are all options for showing the data. County/Local authority is most appropriate for BDUK related targets since each project is made up of local councils.
Posted by mklinger 7 months ago
Here's to the exchange only lines that can't get superfast broadband. Well done to BT for missing out 22 houses in our village, you should be ashamed !!
Posted by CarlThomas 7 months ago
I'm sure it's keeping them up at night.

Sitting back and waiting to see what SEP brings and when the next stage of the commercial rollout kicks in in urban areas.

With SEP being FTTP heavy the numbers will look even weirder soon.
Posted by nxuk 7 months ago
Like @trolleybus I'm stuck in the "not commercially viable" gap. Openreach aren't interested because the cabinet is too small. Fastershire (BDUK) aren't interested because I get over 10Mb. It seems to me that we will still have a broadband divide, its just that those being left behind will be in small urban areas rather than rural.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
Have not crunched the latest rural/urban figures, as was wanting to do a historical picture too, and in terms of volume I suspect there may be some surprises if you look at number of premises rather than just % coverage.

e.g. the 1.5% under 10 Mbps in London is the equivalent of every premise in the Highlands constituency area
Posted by chilting 7 months ago
it is rural areas as well. Here in West Sussex over the last 20-30 years the towns and villages have sprawled out into the country side along main roads. It is these string developments that get the slowest speeds because of distance from the cabinet.

Even installing new cabinets wouldn't solve the problem, we would need FTTP, or more realistically we need a fixed wireless solution.
Posted by Gadget 7 months ago
@mklinger - its not Openreach, or BT, it is Ofcom and their ANFP that is preventing superfast VDSL being deployed at the exchange for EO lines. To be fair the ANFP exists to protect existing broadband users from interference by VDSL.
Posted by DrMikeHuntHurtz 7 months ago
It seems that if an an area is already meeting the 95% target and a cabinet is in the commercial rollout but not done, it gets left undone...
Posted by jonny4288 7 months ago
The bduk work stack needs to be completed as there is a contractual obligation to deliver it, with the workforce stetched any commercial opportunities will be delayed
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
The bump in London is the mix of old commercial/private/commercial London Extension Project cabinets going live, so while BDUK work has been a big focus some of those who've been in the plans for years are seeing things happening at last.
Posted by TheEulerID 7 months ago

I think the ban on VDSL in the exchanges is not to stop interference with exchange-based ADSL (after all, OR have installed VDSL cabinets immediately outside exchanges). The problem is that VDSL in exchanges will not work well where VDSL is also provided from cabinets on the same set of E-side lines. I do wonder if VDSL would have worked in exchanges when confined to EO lines alone, but maybe x-talk is an issue.
Posted by WWWombat 7 months ago
@euler, @Gadget
Did you notice that the ANFP has been updated for G.Fast ... and now has an (empty) placeholder section for VDSL2 from the exchange.

Perhaps it is on the horizon.

That would raise interesting questions of VDSL2 by LLU operators, and the impact on vectoring.
Posted by TheEulerID 7 months ago

The ANFP isn't on my bedtime reading list so no, I hadn't noticed. VDSL2 from exchanges is interesting. It should surely make a cheaper solution for EO lines, but I would have thought it wholly incompatible with lines going via enabled cabinets x-talk from the latter will surely greatly degrade any exchange-based VDSL2 service.

I suppose it might also be possible to service unenabled cabinets from the exchange, but line lengths will surely mitigate against that. In any event, I can't see enough lines being suitable to make it attractive to LLU operators.
Posted by WWWombat 7 months ago
It would indeed be absolutely incompatible with cabinet-based VDSL2. The placeholder section in the ANFP specifies it would only work for cables that don't share a sheath with PCP-based lines.
Posted by WildCottage 7 months ago
I don't know where the 60% coverage figure comes from for the orange area on your map (covering Argyll, Islay and Mull) but certainly that figure is wrong! BT will only be covering the coastal towns of Mull (Lochdon, Craignure, Salen & Tobermory) I say will be; they've a long way to go yet. They will not cover the rest of the island at all. In the meantime I only have 6Mps down and 0.25Mps up; hardly superfast!
Posted by josjoslyn 7 months ago
I find the effort seen to deploy to rural areas continues to be deplorable. I don't live in the wilds, nor in an inaccessible area - Lincolnshire. Yet my line test from BT only guarantees me 256 - 512 kb/sec. Why should I pay the same line rental as someone on 76mb/sec. There should be a sliding scale, depending on service speed. With those still on such poor service not paying any at all. That will see BT/Openreach extracting the proverbial digit
Posted by TheEulerID 7 months ago

There is no premium for a BB capable line. The wholesale cost is simply that of a phone line (and the higher inherent costs of rural lines are already cross-subsidised from urban charges).

Why any company should provide a line at all for zero cost as you propose, I've no idea.

The issue of how to subsidise lines like yours is going to be part of the USO issue. Somebody has to finance the higher costs (and Ofcom's opposition to geographical charging doesn't help).
Posted by gerarda 7 months ago

The word "rural" was dropped from the BDUK programme name some time ago.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
@WildCottage Argyll and Bute includes larger places like Helensburgh too.

People can check what we have for their individual postcode at and report where its wrong and will happily correct things.

Posted by CaptainHulaHoop 7 months ago
Any one got a link please for the updated ANFP/bandplan please. Be an interesting read for me

Posted by WildCottage 7 months ago
Andrew - I understand, but Helensborough is on the mainland. Look closer at the islands and i'll bet the coverage is nearer 6% than 60%
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
And the zone covering the islands also covers parts of the mainland. The extent is easy to see when you use which is our interactive map, with UK split into 650 areas.

So yes Islay is probably below the average for Argyll & Bute - that does not make the data published wrong. Just you need to be aware the colours cover areas so are a summary.
Posted by WildCottage 7 months ago
OK, but the whole of Argyll & Bute is as close as I can define my area. Mull has very little superfast broadband (confined to just some of the towns I mentioned earlier), the rest will never be covered by a national company. I'm just 25 metres from the exchange and cannot get any more than 6Mbps download.
Posted by Llety 7 months ago
I am interested in Andrew's view as to the extent these number overstate OpenReach's ability to deliver. We are in an area which is cited as enabled, but none of the area can order because of "capacity issues" and is is a new FTTP area enabled 2 months ago. I wonder how far this is repeated and the effect it has on the real numbers in the areas it effects.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
@Wildcottage so that is where there is a Search tab where you can put in your postcode and see what we reckon for the properties in a postcode
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
@Llety am aware of capacity issues for VDSL2 cabinets, but not aware of any cabinet where they have categorically stated no more capacity will be added. So yes there are delays but they should get around to resolving them.

If this is a specific FTTP issue absolute worst case is a -1% on the overall, since we only show 1% FTTP.
Posted by WildCottage 7 months ago
Hi Andrew
I tried that - there is no superfast broadband available at my postcode. Some Craignure postcodes already have sfb but others do not; including one I know of that's only 200 metres from the green street cabinet!
Posted by Gadget 7 months ago
@WildCottage - Rothesay already has FTTC-enabled cabinets and Kilchattan Bay will be enabled this year - that covers both of the exchanges on Bute (with some still being too far from an enabled cabinet)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 months ago
Alas cabinets don't serve a perfect sphere around them, there can be lines that don't use any cabinet or are connected to another one for various historic reasons.

Glad to here our lookup was ok though.
Posted by binary 7 months ago
At the risk of being accused of complacency, it looks like good progress has been made (I was going to say "impressive progress", but on second thoughts decided better of it!).

A few say the UK should have skipped FTTC and gone straight for FTTH. I'm minded of the old aphorism, "the perfect is the enemy of the good". For an awful lot of people, FTTC works well. (Not forgetting that for many, ADSL from the exchange is fine.)
Posted by brianhe 7 months ago
The priority has been to give those with the best connectivity the improvements and ignore the rest. Locally on Market 1 exchange, so BT Openreach monopoly, so only ADSL up to 7mbps max available. All cabinets within few hundred metres of exchange, so those that could get 7mbps given superfast, all those in rural properties left with the slow connections they had, and just more empty promises something might get better in the future.
Posted by zzrgraeme 7 months ago
Post Code does not tell the whole story. Some in my post code have fttc. The cabinet that supplies me is apparently not economically viable. What % of landmines can get it?
Posted by DrMikeHuntHurtz 6 months ago

FTTC with Fibre-on-Demand is the best route.
Posted by JacktheMac 6 months ago
Eventually, inevitably, everyone will have FTTH. BT are just working out the best method of screwing money from customers and subsidies from government to pay for it.
Posted by mabz2k 6 months ago
london zone 2 and getting less than 10 Mb/s, there has been 0 work from BT the exchange is accepting orders but nothing is happening and has not happened for 3 years
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