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Progress report on evolving superfast and ultrafast broadband coverage in the UK
Tuesday 07 June 2016 10:50:28 by Andrew Ferguson

We had been hoping to announce the next milestone of 90% availability of a 30 Mbps or faster service in this months update, but after a slight slow down of the roll-outs in some regions it looks like this will now only happen in the next week or so.

The slow down if it persists could put the 95% superfast target by the end of 2017 in danger, but we need a couple more months of roll-out before we start to shift our projection of mid to late 2017 for 95% superfast coverage out by a few months.

There are two new regions in the main table, since we have split out the areas covered by the Highlands and Islands project and thus also the Rest of Scotland. The fact that the HIE area has gone from 27.4% coverage to 60.7% at superfast speeds shows that while there is a lot more to be done at least things are improving. As with all the other projects the question is whether the pace of the roll-out is faster than the growing number of complaints that seem to litter social media, and unfortunately the many complaints about roll-outs not being fast enough reinforce the reasoning for why VDSL2 was chosen as the dominant technology due to its relative fast roll-out compared to FTTH/FTTP.

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 6th June 2016
(change since 5th May 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 95.5% 94.2% (=) 94% 68.2% (+0.3) 1.48% 0.2% 1.4%
South East 96.9% 94.1% (+0.1) 93.6% 49.1% (+0.1) 0.77% 0.5% 2.6%
East Midlands 96.6% 94.2% (+0.1) 93.7% 57% (+0.1) 0% 0.5% 2.6%
North East 95.5% 93.8% (+0.3) 93.4% 51.2% (=) 0.05% 0.3% 2.1%
North West 95.8% 92.9% (+0.1) 92.3% 46.1% (+0.1) 0.52% 0.8% 3.5%
West Midlands 95.1% 92.9% (+0.2) 92.4% 62% (+0.1) 0.08% 0.5% 3%
England 94.3% 91.5% (+0.1) 91% 53% (+0.2) 1.23% 0.6% 3.8%
United Kingdom 93.8% 90.6% (+0.2) 89.9% 50.2% (+0.1) 1.07% 0.8% 4.5%
East of England 92.6% 89.1% (+0.2) 88.4% 48% (+0.1) 0.36% 0.8% 5.2%
South West 92.9% 87.9% (+0.2) 87% 43.2% (+0.1) 2.63% 1.2% 6.2%
Wales 92.2% 87.8% (+0.3) 86.6% 29.4% (+0.1) 0.56% 0.9% 7.4%
Rest Of Scotland 90.7% 87.4% 86.8% 43.5% 0.01% 1.5% 6.5%
Yorkshire and Humber 89.5% 86.5% (+0.4) 85.8% 49.1% (+0.3) 3.45% (includes KCom Lightstream) 0.7% 6.5%
Scotland 89.2% 85.2% (+0.4) 84.5% 39.7% (+0.2) 0.01% 1.3% 8.1%
Northern Ireland 96.7% 80% (+0.2) 78.3% 27.6% (+0.1) 0.14% 6.9% 13.3%
Highlands and Islands 74.1% 62.6% 60.7% 0.02% 0.02% 5.6% 30.3%

The ultrafast column will now each month track the change from the previous month and also exists as its own line on our availability checker, thus recognising the importance of high availability of ever faster services. The definition of ultrafast is not set in stone, since Ofcom prefer a 300 Mbps minimum but given that Virgin Media is on the cusp of making a top tier 300 Mbps more widely available it matters little, but when comparing the UK against other countries it may be worth remembering that while we have a small FTTH/FTTP footprint the availability of ultrafast at 200 Mbps (or 300 Mbps if you prefer) is not that bad.


Posted by TheEulerID 11 months ago
The slow-down is inevitable as the BDUK process grinds through the less populous areas and with technology which takes longer to deploy.

In some senses, I think the proposed 10Mbps USO target is the more important target from the "social exclusion" point of view. Unfortunately, unless there's a move to 100% cabinet based services in some areas with a modified PSD, they will be caught up in the same slow roll-out (if at all).

nb. mandatory mention of wireless which works in some areas.
Posted by chilting 11 months ago
This is great but it isn't being optimised. All the while ADSL is still available Openreach are unable to unleash the full potential of VDSL2.
For those of us a longer distance from a cabinet this is a real shame and is the difference between slow broadband and superfast.
Why retain ADSL when it doesn't even give the majority 10Mbps?
Posted by MCM999 11 months ago
> Why retain ADSL when it doesn't even give the majority 10Mbps?
For two possible reasons other than the problem this would bring for LLU suppliers. a)There are those who have no access to anything other than ADSL such as those on EO lines, and, b)There are those who are happy today with the speed they get on ADSL and don't wish to move to FTTC which they see as more expensive.
Posted by TheEulerID 11 months ago

I don't think there's a case for getting rid of ADSL completely (and you clearly can't on EO lines). However, there is certainly a case for doing it on lines which go via those cabinets where it would bring major benefits quickly. The cost issue could be ameliorated to a considerable extent by offering cheaper, capped wholesale product.

Getting this agreed is a big issue of course given the objections from LLU operators, but maybe a start could be made in non-LLU exchanges.
Posted by MCM999 11 months ago
As it happens, I totally agree. The problem being though getting the LLU ISPs to agree and also for ISPs to introduce a lower cost capped FTTC product. With the removal of power limits this could certainly help those at great distance from their cab to see an improvement in speeds on FTTC connections.
Posted by Blackmamba 11 months ago
Hi Broadband Watcher.
The transferring of customers from ADSl is not being advised due to the lack of ports on the Cabs and fibre runs and are relying on the churn rate from the ISP,s and their pricing and advertising.. I feel that Openreach is providing the port access to 90% + of the customers who wish to use it as it is an open market so the customer is in control.
Posted by gerarda 11 months ago
How would getting rid of ADSL benefit those premises too far from the cabinet to get FTTC?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 11 months ago
In theory it would mean the ANFP could be relaxed and the long line performance of FTTC would improve i.e. access to ADSL2+ frequencies which travel further.

For those with 4km long lines to cabinet still won't be superfast but if they had another 4km from cabinet to exchange, they'd see a nice jump in speed from near zero to something in the 3 to 6 Mbps region.
Posted by TheEulerID 11 months ago

This would have to be done on a cabinet-by-cabinet basis and only where there is capacity. It would also not be an instant change so capacity issues could be addressed in plenty of time.
Posted by Blackmamba 11 months ago
Hi Broadband Watcher.
By offloading Adsl that are tied to the Cab to 100% will put pressure on the area either to provide more lines to be connected to direct fibre or a new inervation.
Eg GFast. I think in Surrey this will happen because they are targeting the post codes that show under 10 meg by using the 45% take up BD/Uk clawback money. I think TBB results show 39% take up across Surrey so they will be very selective.
Posted by fastman 11 months ago
Blackmanmba -- GFAST is nothing to do with BDUK !!!! and nothing to do with clawback !!!! --

Posted by DrMikeHuntHurtz 11 months ago
Surrounded by fiber cabinets yet mine won't get done, I think it may have something to do with all the local businesses connected to it.
Posted by fastman 11 months ago
Get the businesses to co fund with you and the community
Posted by DrMikeHuntHurtz 11 months ago

The problem is you have two types of businesses, a few that can afford leased lines and the rest which can just about manage DSL if anything at all.
Posted by WWWombat 11 months ago
G.Fast introduces one relevant point here...

The addition of G.Fast DPUs into the access network could reduce the pressure on ports in the VDSL2 cabinets, where they are full.

Dimensioned correctly, that could help the removal of ADSL on a cabinet-by-cabinet basis.
Posted by WWWombat 11 months ago
If lines are still too long to benefit from the extra power of unleashed VDSL2, or even long-range VDSL, then a different solution is needed. The advantage of having a range, right?

FTTRN or an AIO looks best.
Posted by chilting 11 months ago
The cost savings to BT if ADSL is removed on an exchange by exchange basis would clearly be considerable.
They would be able to close exchanges and move their equipment to regional exchanges.
Part of the cost saving could be passed on to the LLU suppliers in way of compensation.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 11 months ago
Removing ADSL does not mean you can close an exchange, you still need to terminate the voice lines, which under existing USO terms apart from a few trial exceptions have to be MPF.
Posted by Blackmamba 11 months ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
They will use the same method that was used back in the 1970 when exchanges were amelgermated back to the main group switching area and.this started the removal of shared service lines and exchanges. This is happening in London eg Chelsea. The other eg is Wormley complete removal of a Cab all DP,s have a potential to provide fibre thus removing the copper link. As FTTC has spare fibres which can provide extra ports if required. (GFast or FTTC/P).
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 11 months ago
Chelsea is retaining copper so spare fibres at cabinets is irrelevant and the fibre deployment to aggregation nodes always allowed for expansion to GPON (or
Posted by TheEulerID 11 months ago
The prospect of removing (or at least relaxing) the USO for a "traditional" phoneline has been mooted of course. SOGEA provides for the use of a VOIP gateway and (for FTTP) there is a different voice over fibre facility.

The SOGEA VOIP offering is interesting in that it does not count as a USO phone service as far as I can see (and VOIP services are not subject to the same compulsory emergency service requirements of a traditional land line). Clearly a rationalisation of exchanges has significant cost advantages, but my feeling is that there is a long, long way to go on this.
Posted by Somerset 11 months ago
@BM - 'exchanges were amelgermated back to the main group switching area'. Please explain your usual mangled words. That had nothing to do with removal of shared service.
How do customers on this Wormley cab get voice?
Posted by fastman 11 months ago
The other eg is Wormley - you are badly misinformed and sure where you are getting you information from - no cabs will be removed !!!!
Posted by dunks 10 months ago
@Andrew - Scotland sub 2Mbps 1.3%, but RoS 1.5% & H&I 1.3% - data error?
Posted by dunks 10 months ago
Sorry, H&I at 5.6% - should RoS and Scotland be reversed perhaps?
Posted by WWWombat 10 months ago
Agree. The "Scotland" aggregate for sub-2Mbps must surely lie somewhere between the RoS and H&I figures.
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