Broadband News

Is LLU growth seasonal or has it just slowed down?

Back in October 2013 we posted that the UK had 9,251,400 unbundled lines, and now in April 2014 the number is 9,257,700 a growth of just 5,300 over several months according to the latest report from the Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator.

The charts on the OTA2 website suggest this may just be a cycle that LLU growth has entered and may be heavily influenced by promotional activity from the two largest operators, Sky and TalkTalk. Alternatively it may be a sign that demand for broadband in the UK is slowing down, i.e. all those who want it and can get it have it.

The quarterly financial reports from the major providers do not show the same slow growth, so there is the possibility that the growth in the big four providers is at the expense of the smaller diverse operators.

The success of unbundling is one of the things that makes UK broadband look good on the world stage as it helps to provide consumer choice, but it could be said that the ease with which alternate operators can access the BT/Openreach infrastructure has stymied the need for alternate networks. The UK has already spent 25 years building one alternate infrastructure under commercial auspices, and the various cable franchises have all merged into one firm - Virgin Media who are now owned by an overseas firm Liberty Global (Wight Telecom on the Isle of Wight is the last hold-out).

A wee snippet of news on the progress of the new migration scheme, the new system that will rewrite all the rule books is still on schedule for June 2015.


It could be that as they have finished rolling out new sites they have migrated all those who used to be on BT Wholesale products and this migration had inflated the growth historically. With few additional sites there are few customers to migrate. Could also be an effect of some migration to BT sport

  • jumpmum
  • over 6 years ago

In British usage, alternate (adj) means every other, the appropriate adjective is alternative. It's a useful and time honoured distinction.

On the substance, economists have struggled with the disincentive that cheap copper is to investment in fibre. Here's one of many reports.

  • TheEulerID
  • over 6 years ago

This is another report, and it also points out that you can't just retire a copper network due to other uses and the impact on LLU operator investments. In reality, both would run in parallel for several years at least.

  • TheEulerID
  • over 6 years ago

With the economy in decline I'm surprised it's continued so far.

  • otester
  • over 6 years ago

@TheEuler. Is that why they use pairs of copper so they can alternate between LLU and non LLU??

  • gerarda
  • over 6 years ago

It may also have something to do with the companies behind the LLU and the frequency of complaints against them.

I am a former customer of both the big brands using LLU and would not go back to them at any cost. Your mileage may vary.

  • gsmlnx
  • over 6 years ago

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