Broadband News

Superfast broadband coverage progress across UK regions

The announcement over the weekend that the UK will be working towards a 10 Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) by the end of 2020 means we have changed our monthly round-up to reflect this new target by adding a 10 Mbps coverage column, replacing the previous 15 Mbps column.

USO Broadband Coverage in 30 Worst Parts of UK
Thirty worst areas of UK for 10 Mbps coverage(large image)

The bar chart showing the constituencies in the UK where the most work will be needed for the USO is almost a analogous with the worst areas for superfast coverage, so it is going to interesting to see what difference the continuing roll-out of superfast broadband makes and that is not just a BT Group story, as the Project Lightning expansion by Virgin Media may not help rural areas, but this has the potential to address many of the urban slow-spots and then once you consider the on-going expansion of Gigaclear the UK broadband landscape in 2020 is going to be very different. The real key for the USO is whether solutions are used that just tick a box, or will the deployment actually bring speeds well in excess of 10 Mbps.

thinkbroadband calculation of Superfast, USC, USO and Fibre Broadband Coverage across the nations and regions for premises
In descending order of superfast coverage - figures 6th November 2015
(change since 4th October 2015)
Area % fibre based % superfast
24 Mbps or faster
% superfast
30 Mbps or faster
% cable % Openreach FTTP % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 10 Mbps USO
London 95.4% 93.1% (+0.2) 92.7% 66.1% 1.31% 0.3% 2%
South East 96% 92.2% (+0.5) 91.3% 47.7% 0.68% 0.5% 3.3%
East Midlands 94.9% 92% (+1) 91.3% 56.3% 0% 0.6% 3.4%
North East 93.6% 91.4% (+0.6) 91% 50.9% 0% 0.3% 3%
North West 94.4% 90.9% (+0.7) 90.2% 44.9% 0.34% 0.7% 4.5%
West Midlands 93.4% 90.4% (+0.7) 89.8% 60.6% 0.04% 0.5% 4.1%
East of England 90.9% 86.6% (+1.4) 85.6% 47.1% 0.29% 0.8% 6.3%
Yorkshire and Humber 87.5% 83.9% (+0.7) 83.1% 44.8% 2.87% (KC Lightstream) 0.7% 7.7%
Wales 88.5% 83.4% (+1.2) 82.1% 28.5% 0.23% 0.9% 9.6%
South West 88.7% 83% (+1.3) 81.8% 39.7% 2.4% 1.1% 8.6%
Scotland 85% 81.1% (+1.9) 80.3% 39% <0.01% 1.2% 9.9%
Northern Ireland 94.8% 77.3% (+0.7) 75.7% 26.7% 0.06% 7.6% 14.5%

Milestones of note are that the North West now has more than 90% availability at 30 Mbps or faster, and the West Midlands crossed the 90% threshold at 24 Mbps, with 30 Mbps likely to cross-over in November. Scotland has landed spot on its 85% fibre based coverage target which was due by the end of 2015, the line length performance of VDSL2 giving 80.3% the option of a 30 Mbps or faster connection. Northern Ireland is continuing to chip away at the gap between fibre based coverage and superfast coverage.

There are many calling for much higher speeds than 10 Mbps as the minimum for the USO with a 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps speed specification being called for, and some insisting that this needs to be symmetric too, to give people an idea of the scale of what they are asking for when they campaign for 100 Mbps as a minimum speed, below is a quick summary of the coverage at 50 Mbps or faster current (mixture of FTTC where 50 Mbps possible, cable coverage and FTTH/P coverage).

Coverage at 50 Mbps and faster - 6th November 2015
England 61.87%
Northern Ireland 38.49%
Scotland 49.78%
Wales 40.3%
East of England 56.97%
East Midlands 64.57%
London 76.30%
North East 63.35%
North West 58.22%
South East 60.15%
South West 50.98%
West Midlands 66.98%
Yorkshire & Humber 56.97%


Sorry to be banging on about this , but at the start of the BDUK process it was reckoned at least 10% of premises could not get 2Mbps. It has also been generally recognised that the worst areas have been left to last. So why is the USC shortfall shown on your lab only 0.8%? As this means more than 90% have been eliminated when the increase in FTTC coverage has been proportionately much less, when it would have been expected to have been higher than the USC gain

  • gerarda
  • about 1 year ago

What year/month do you call start of the BDUK process and who said it was 10% under 2 Mbps at that time?

Was around 1.8% to 2% in Summer 2014 when trawling back through our records.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 year ago

I am going back to 2012

  • gerarda
  • about 1 year ago

Ofcom was saying 5% in 2013

The infill in NI is nibbling away at the 2 Mbps situation there.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 year ago

Hi Gerarda.
It is pointless looking back on Thinkbroadband map data as the formula has been changed check the latest. Please remember if an exchange has ADSl +2 most of the post codes will receive over the two meg target

  • Blackmamba
  • about 1 year ago

Perhaps "general recognition" is resulting in something of a myth. Perhaps the areas being left to last are really only "among the worst", and that a significant, but quiet, volume of premises have been caught by the rollout so far.

It shouldn't be a surprise, because the areas being left to last aren't just "the worst" but are also the least populated.

Remember too that the 10% values was 10% of actual connections, including a %age who could upgrade if they chose to; In 2014 it was 4% of actual connections, including 2% who could upgrade.

TBB's figures are of coverage/availability.

  • WWWombat
  • about 1 year ago

Ofcom's infrastructure reports history:
2014 - 4% of connections, but 2% could upgrade. Overall, 3% of premises.
2013 - 8% of connections, but 5% could upgrade.
2012 - 10% of connections
2011 - 14% of connections
(Figures for June of each year)

TBB's figures are nearly 18 months on from the most recent Ofcom figures, what do we think could be the state on the ground?

I'd say it is plausible to be around the 1% mark.

  • WWWombat
  • about 1 year ago

If add the alternate options e.g. fixed wireless, B4rn, Gigaclear (which will in 2016 once 90% target met) then the USC figure will drop further.

The labs site highlights these options to people, just not rolled into the stats yet, to ensure BT cannot take credit for their work.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 year ago

@wwwombat - as my FOI requests to Ofcom showed they ignored notspots where they were complete postcodes so Ofcoms figures are probably understated even allowing for potential upgrades not taken up.

On a macro level superfast coverage in 2012 was stated as 65%. Its now 92%. so 27/35 =77% of the areas not covered in 2012 are now covered, but apparently this 77% contained more than 90% of the sub USC lines,despite the early cherry picking and the EO problem. Something wrong somewhere

  • gerarda
  • about 1 year ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
In Surrey 1% of 500K customer = 5000 customers unable to get 2 meg more like it will be .1-.2 % and I exspect they are not with the best ISP,s.

  • Blackmamba
  • about 1 year ago

"What the public wants...". Well, in my experience, it's about a solid, reliable service that is there when you need it and doesn't take 3 hours to download an app update, doesn't drop out when it rains, doesn't fluctuate when your neighbours are downloading something, isn't dead for 2 months every year, etc etc. FTTP might have its own issues (does it?) but it would get rid of all the ADSL/VDSL woes instantly. Speed is irrelevant, people should just pay for the bandwidth that they want. Therefore the USO is meaningless.

  • csimon
  • about 1 year ago

Alas FTTP is not a solution to the 'doesn't fluctuate when your neighbours are downloading something' unless you are paying for 1:1 contention.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • about 1 year ago

I posted the comment in the wrong thread actually - should have been the USO story.

  • csimon
  • about 1 year ago

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