Broadband News

UK halfway through its broadband makeover we are told

The headline is always meant to draw you in to read more of an article, but in a world where many people just skim read articles, people who are not fully up to speed on the progress of the BDUK projects across the UK could very easily be left with the impression that the Government project had already rolled out millions of connections.

Progress on Broadband Transformation: Roll-out passes halfway mark


These changes will reinforce the UK’s position as a leading digital economy and will be a major driver of local jobs and national growth. The Government’s own programmes will support delivery in the parts of the country that will not otherwise be reached by the private sector and will support our cities to become digital hubs for businesses and consumers.

Results already achieved:

  1. Average speeds have more than doubled since May 2010, from 5.2Mbps to 12.0Mbps in November 2012
  2. Superfast broadband connections are getting faster, with speeds increasing from 35.8Mbps in May 2012 to 44.6Mbps in November 2012
  3. 100,000 more homes and businesses are getting superfast broadband availability each week
  4. In June 2012 superfast coverage had reached 65% of UK premises, up from 45% in 2010.
  5. The proportion of broadband connections with superfast speeds of 30Mbps or higher more than doubled last year, up from 5% in November 2011 to 13% in November 2012.
  6. 50,000 superfast connections are currently being taken up per week
Extract from DCMS press release

The real milestone is that 22 out of 44 projects have now signed their contracts, and all with BT. The more important milestone as far as consumers and businesses are concerned is when will boots be on the ground and actually installing services via the project, and we believe at this time this is mainly in North Yorkshire and Wales. We would expect lots more photo opportunities if other areas were moving at a break neck speed.

So lets rewrite the results already achieved into something approaching reality:

  1. Ofcom speed reports (based on 1300 to 2000 test locations) has reported that average speeds have doubled in the 30 months up to November 2012 hitting 12 Mbps. First BDUK funded cabinet only appeared in December 2012.
  2. The superfast connections getting faster, simply put Openreach launched the GEA-FTTC 80/20 product in April 2012, offering a speed boost above the older 40 Mbps service, and Virgin Media is continuing with its own speed upgrade programme. Plus providers like Digital Region are getting faster, and there are more full fibre networks like Hyperoptic to consider now.
  3. The 100,000 premises passed per week, is pretty much lifted from the BT Group financial reports.
  4. In June 2012, superfast coverage hit 65% of premises, which is months ahead of the first BDUK cabinet being delivered.
  5. The proportion of connections at 30 Mbps and faster has more than doubled, well no suprise Virgin Media with free speed upgrades, and people buying FTTC in the commercial footprint.
  6. 50,000 new superfast subscriptions per week, the majority will be in the commercial footprint, it would be revealing if DCMS were to release how many were via a BDUK project.

We believe the press release reflects a view in Whitehall that the BDUK programme is about managing a procurement process rather than the eventual outcome, or to put it another way, so long as the contracts get signed and the responsibility moves to someone else they will be happy.

Very careful wording appears in parts of the release as the 90% superfast broadband availability is talked about, but never in the same paragraph as the year 2015. While I don't think anyone is going to complain too much if the superfast target is a little late (e.g. in early 2016), if by the time of the General Election in 2015 a 2 Mbps service is not universally available the Labour Party will be able to talk about the current Government moving the goalposts by three years and still being late to deliver.


The idea of a single national "average speed" as a measure of progress to be meaningless. The "speed" is not a simple continuous value but needs the context of different technologies and artificially capped products (to create price points).

BDUK is a kind of "national internet upgrade" - one could compare the "before and after" capability per connection to show what the upgrade added.

E.g. what % of connection upgrades or installs increased the speed by how much (10Mbs? 20Mbps? 50Mbps?) as a distribution graph, with a series for each type of technology (FTTC, FTTP, Wireless etc).

  • prlzx
  • over 7 years ago

Price points:
A line may have been upgraded from ADSL 2M/400K to FTTC. The new technology may be capable of 80M/20M except say that the customer chooses a 40M/2M package.

The averaging of that latter figure does not reflect what the *technology upgrade* achieved but rather the package that the customer was willing to buy.

The packages that people choose may also be of interest but as a measure is still different from *technology progress* per se.

  • prlzx
  • over 7 years ago

While people find the idea of an "average" attractive to quote, a "mean value" is not necessarily appropriate to something you are modelling or measuring, especially in this case where there are discontinuities.
So it is less useful that it first appears especially with distributions such as this.

  • prlzx
  • over 7 years ago

I have long thought VM's speed doubling has had political tint to it. most of VM.
eg. my city is listed in the news story with 95% NGA by 2015, yet it has poor FTTx coverage however very good VM coverage.

  • chrysalis
  • over 7 years ago

The real milestone is that 22 out of 44 projects have now signed their contracts, and all with BT.

what a surprise :(

  • zyborg47
  • over 7 years ago

Haven't a lot of the BDUK contracts been delayed? If so surely that puts out any government date of 2015?

  • GMAN99
  • over 7 years ago

you are using network control to carry out criminal activity from hacking machines till they become firehazards to hacking computers so they stop working and charging folk for technical helplines for £5 per minute
you are crooks
you wont let us use modems at the speed they were designed to work at - you don't have one map of telephone exchanges and guaranteed connection speeds
you wont even let fone modems use the built in hardware compression
you are criminals plain and simple

  • rogerjowett
  • over 7 years ago

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