Broadband News

£645m of funding available to help UK reach 98% superfast broadband coverage

The BDUK phase I and phase II projects are a gift that keeps on giving and we have already seen some projects that have announced extensions to their roll-outs via gainshare and efficiency savings the increased money now available now increase the proportion of full fibre in the roll-outs.

The grand total figure of £645 million that is made up of £465 million set aside by BT as part of the gainshare arrangement based on the latest calculations of take-up (which is at 38% for the combined BDUK project areas) and another £180m from project efficiency savings. Some local authorities have previously announced project extensions using gainshare and to this extent the DCMS press release does highlight that £200m is already committed to taking coverage further.

The big headline figure that we have reduced to paragraph three is that DCMS is now hopeful that with the increase in money they can shift from talking about 97% superfast coverage in a few years to talking about 98%, i.e. the £173 million increase should allow an extra 300,000 premises with access to superfast to be delivered.

RegionLatest Take-up FiguresTake-up December 2016Money available for reinvestment by local authorities (projected)
East of England 42% 34.2% £87.7m
Midlands 38% 30.52% £113.4m
North East England 37% 29.55% £27.7m
North West England 37% 29.32% £60.3m
Northern Ireland 33% 27.41% £7.9m
Scotland 34% 26.3% £78m
South East England 44% 35.59% £90.3m
South West England 39% 29.91% £79.5m
Wales 37% 28.77% £56.3m
Yorkshire & Humber 37% 31.12% £44.7m

We have now brought superfast broadband to almost 94 per cent of UK homes and businesses, and we are reaching thousands more every week. We are on track to reach 95 per cent by the end of the year, but we know there’s still more to do. The money that is now being returned to the programme for reinvestment will help us reach that final 5 per cent, and is all part of our commitment to make sure that 100 per cent of the UK can get affordable, fast and reliable broadband by 2020.

Minister for Digital Matt Hancock

The almost 94% is pretty close as we are tracking at 93.7% and if the volume delivered in August is repeated we should hit that in around four or five weeks time and if this pace is kept up then the end of year 95% target is achievable, but this is very reliant on a wide variety of operators delivering, though the bulk will be down to Openreach and a big contributor will be what seems a like a large number of premises in Wales with full fibre (FTTP) in the stages of being built and an expected delivery date of the end of the year.

Local authorities are under no obligation to re-invest all the money made available via gainshare or savings, but many are at least recycling various chunks and hopefully councils will be much more aware of the most problematic areas as those who don't have a superfast option and are stuck with no or slow broadband are getting better at making their voice heard. Alas its impossible to predict where the extra coverage will be and its entirely possible some councils may leave the money with BT and fund projects with other networks providers knowing that once the BT contract finally ends they will get the savings back.

The broadband universal service obligation (USO) is looking very much like it may have to just deal with some 300,000 to 600,000 premises now (1 to 2%) and the variations in the ratio of FTTP versus VDSL2 in addition to infill cabinets mean the previous Ofcom model that was a prediction when coverage levels were at the 90% mark must now be consigned to history. The question now is how long for the superfast coverage levels to move on to the 96, 97 and 98% mark and how big will the tail of people getting more than 10 Mbps but less than 24 Mbps be. One part of the USO we have not seen any modelling done on, is the rate at which people will demand a USO capable connection, as the USO to date has been designed to not be a generalised roll-out but something individuals or groups ask for.

Update 12:05pm For those keen to read the full press release a copy has been released by DCMS.

Comments

Fascinating numbers.

It didn't look like it a couple of years ago, but perhaps the decision to not grab a 3rd tranche of BDUK funding from the treasury was the right one. Perhaps the clawback looked like it would be enough.

The downside is surely that another 1% covered by BDUK makes it even less likely that anyone other than BT will want to bother with a USO scheme.

Idea for the USO scheme: Add some hysteresis.
Stick with the sub-10Mbps as the threshold to qualify for help. However, don't make the "after improvement" figure merely more than 10Mbps. Instead make it havr to reach 30Mbps.

  • WWWombat
  • 11 days ago

A blizzard of percentages, jargon and promises. And with it, a welter of stories from all over of those who, for example, cannot submit exam papers on line as required by her secondary school. Not because she lives in the Western Isles, but Oxfordshire where her speed is 0.9Mbps

I listened to the Digital Matt Hancock on radio 4 this morning, skating and swerving round the difficult questions. 10Mbps to 100% by 2020? In your dreams!

  • 961a
  • 11 days ago

Finding sub 2 Mbps and probably sub 1 Mbps locations is not hard

https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/postcode-search-OX7%207DP

We also maintain a map of sub 2 Mbps and sub 10 Mbps postcodes https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/broadband-map#9/51.7593/-1.6232/usc/

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 11 days ago

@thinkbroadband Need fast broadband but not part of current plans? Find out how we can help https://t.co/0OR5mYFGdr #r4today @MattHancock

  • @fibrepartner
  • comment via twitter
  • 11 days ago

Earlier this year I asked about 10mb USO, the local council 'broadband officer' still didn't know how it would pan out, but did comment that if I haddent been able to boost my connection to it's present 4mb on fttc I would have got a satellite voucher.
This seems quite bizzare as I live in a village which you would think would justify a fill in cabinet, and also the house is listed and in a conservation area, so it is illegal for me to put up a dish for Sky tv, but the council would subsidise a data dish to pick up (amongst other things) online tv.
I'm just crossing fingers USO don't mean dish

  • burble
  • 11 days ago

95% coverage sounds great. But it also means that 1 in 20 people do not have access to fibre and in most cases theses are the people with very slow broadband. If you happen to be unlucky it could take another 3 years for improvement with the USO. But this is not looking promising because you could still just by offered £350 and told to piss off and get a dish.

  • nobroadband
  • 11 days ago

I live in an area of Hertfordshire that's been continually told that we wouldn't be part of any upgrade plans, despite pointing out to the Connected Counties team that they'd get over 50% takeup on our cabinet if it were upgraded. I even told them I was willing to pay for FTTPoD, but all they kept offering was the solution @fibrepartner has suggested, which I really object to!

Anyway, we then told them (Connected Counties) that Voneus was going to provide wireless speeds which far exceeded the local broadband speeds, lo and behold we're now going to get FTTC...

  • victoriaonline
  • 11 days ago

victoriaonline

It's called kicking the can down the road until someone kicks up a fuss that can't be ignored

Where is Hertfordshire again? Does the council get any income from its citizens? Oh, really? One of the wealthiest parts of UK?

  • 961a
  • 11 days ago

@andrew, when I check my postcode GL15 6PW (and surround ones) with the under 10Mbps USO option, they don't show as being under 10Mbps, but we only have ADSL Max so we are all under 10Mbps - am doing something wrong?

  • sheephouse
  • 11 days ago

"We have now brought superfast broadband to almost 94 per cent of UK homes and businesses"

That's a bit of a stretch given the great majority of that 94% was commercial roll-out. But politicians will be politicians I suppose...

  • TheEulerID
  • 10 days ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
With Super Surrey results very near the 97% at 24 Meg TBB results (MP J Hunt ) will be very pleased and knowing that there is money still in the pot to cover the remaining 3%. I do agree that private money has helped the situation.

  • Blackmamba
  • 10 days ago

@sheephouse Looks like exchange may have been missed from an estimate update a while ago, so have triggered one locally and that is live for lookups (maps will update overnight live on Monday). Will also later today do a full GL* update, have looked at some other exchanges with same scenario and looks good, but just in case.

Coverage % was not affected as different system.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 10 days ago

Hard as some of you may find, there is still more funding to come. The LA/DA Investment Account balances have not been reported upon which may or may not be applied.
There remains a significant opportunity to build upon the FTTP footprint in rural and prove to ourselves just how much is possible.
The proposed B-USO and BT's proposed funding of it needs kicking down the road while these resources are applied to fixing the remaining problem.
If Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland do another round of audits on the status of BT's capital contribution, the total available will climb.

  • ValueforMoney
  • 9 days ago

Why do you think there is more in the LA/DA investment accounts than is accounted for by BT's "early clawback" offer? Remember that the "early clawback" offer is to pay money back to the LA earlier than they would qualify by the existing clawback rules. Which, by definition, means the numbers being offered are bigger than the investment accounts.

There will only be an opportunity to spend more on FTTP if you get the government to change the strategy of BDUK.

As it stands, BDUK must order the cheapest solution that is "just good enough". No more, even if that results in spare money.

  • WWWombat
  • 8 days ago

@VFM
"The proposed B-USO and BT's proposed funding of it needs kicking down the road while these resources are applied"

Not sure you've thought this through. If the govt followed your advice it would miss its 2020 target (which is very tight anyway) and would certainly pay more for the coverage. If it lets BT get on with its own deployment it will take fibre deeper into the network, which will benefit some of the later stages of the BDUK programme.

Apart from that..... :-)

  • New_Londoner
  • 8 days ago

PS how is Ofcom's investigation progressing of the misdemeanours you keep alleging?

  • New_Londoner
  • 8 days ago

How many other Government projects or those at least with a degree of oversight are sat there with people debating the size of the saving?

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 8 days ago

@Andrew
I think many of us would agree it would be a nice problem to have!

  • New_Londoner
  • 7 days ago

Nice to see the large savings I predicted coming through. Even if certain individuals were unable to understand why it would happen, even with the boiler installation analogy.

  • themanstan
  • 7 days ago

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