Superfarce or superfast, is the UK in slow lane or not?
Point Topic has thrown another set of data into the vast boxing ring that is the state of play for a Digital United Kingdom. The data analysis firm has sat down and used combined data sets from various sources to model and validate its latest set of figures which indicate that some 20.4 million homes across the UK have access to a superfast broadband service, either via Openreach FTTC/P or Virgin Media cable broadband. With some 27.2 million homes in the UK this means 75.2% of households can get superfast.
"Britain was ahead of all the other big countries in the EU a year ago. With its growth in 2013 we are confident that it has held its place.
Consider the plan to take BBC3 off air, for example. We reckon about 1.2 million homes would not be able to get those programmes online if that happened today.
Being able to get a service doesn’t mean you actually buy it, of course. Many people in superfast areas are still using standard broadband over the telephone network and find it’s enough for their needs. Many other homes don’t have fixed broadband at all, although they may be using mobile connections."Oliver Johnson, Chief Executive of Point Topic
1.2 million homes is 4.4% of UK households and basically means those with speeds too slow to stream SD BBC iPlayer which we showed last week to require a speed of just under 1 Mbps. If you take 4 Mbps as a minimum for a reasonable broadband connection (i.e. a couple of SD streams or 1 HD stream) then currently around 9% of UK homes are believed to not meet that criteria.
Hopefully with superfast services so widely available, RightMove will update their website to make use of the superfast data from Point Topic and update the faux speed test to include the faster services rather than just the ADSL/ADSL2+ speeds that are given prominence currently.
Some notes for the aficionados of broadband coverage data, Point Topic has adopted 30 Mbps as its baseline speed for superfast services (inline with EU) and has only included households that it has modelled as capable of getting that speed or faster. So in theory as the FTTC roll-out continues apace we should see the coverage climb and find out if the NAO projection for 90% coverage in 2016 is correct. The estimate was that by the end of 2015, superfast in the UK would be available to some 88% of households.
If the Prime Minister was feeling upset by Angela Merkel's broadband jibe, they could always dig deeper into the sofa and find a few billion to throw at BT, and start building out with GPON FTTH from the many thousands of fibre aggregation nodes BT has deployed (1 aggregation node for each FTTC cabinet, meaning essentially FTTH is already close to all FTTC sites). For now by only funding the less exciting FTTC roll-out, there is still scope for the disruptive influence of other operators to bring FTTH on a scale of millions to the UK, unfortunately this looks to be a short queue.