Broadband News

95% Coverage of Superfast Broadband Goal Reached

The United Kingdom has finally reached its target of 95% of premises (residential + business) being able to access a broadband connection of over 24 Mbps download speed i.e. superfast broadband, 95.0079% to be exact. 

We need to get this caveat in very quickly, the 95% target is not a consistent 95% across all communities in the UK, but with areas like Epson and Ewell, Tamworth, Worthing and Watford and others all pushing into the 99% superfast coverage zone these areas pull the figures up compared to the City of London (50.3%), Orkney Islands (66.8%), Western Isles (71%) and Kingston Upon Hull (71.7%) at the other end of the table.

The full set of council, constituency and regional coverage figures are on https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/ where the historical coverage graphs and tables of all the councils and constituencies will let you see if your area is expanding its level of superfast coverage still and compare the coverage levels to other areas.

The roll-out of superfast broadband has been a mixture of commercial and gap funded solutions and what is interesting to note is that while there seemed to be a rush of BDUK based roll-out in December during January 2018 there has been a slow down, this may be partly down to the Christmas holiday season or it may reflect the new pace of roll-out from Openreach as it is switching to roll-outs with a higher proportion of full fibre and as its contractual commitments to the BDUK projects is fading it is revisiting some long delayed commercial cabinets and starting to focus on the mixture of G.fast and FTTP in commercial areas.

United Kingdom Broadband Coverage Details as of 28th January 2018
MetricPremises
Homes + Businesses
Percentage
Total Premises 28,914,859 100%
Fibre based coverage
i.e. includes VDSL2 with no distance modelling and cable, FTTP
28,188,588 97.5%
Superfast Broadband Over 24 Mbps
The definition used by Westminster and most phase one BDUK projects
27,471,411 95.0%
Superfast Broadband Over 30 Mbps
Westminster and all other projects are expected to harmonise on this definition of superfast during 2018
27,377,033 94.7%
Ultrafast Broadband Over 100 Mbps 15,396,456 53.3%
Full Fibre Broadband (FTTP/FTTH/FTTB) 979,453 3.4%
Openreach/KCom FTTP/FTTH 599,287 2.1%
Openreach Fibre based coverage
i.e. includes VDSL2 with no distance modelling and GEA-FTTP which needs no distance modelling
26,699,045 92.3%
Openreach Superfast Broadband Over 30 Mbps 25,830,257 89.3%
Under 2 Mbps Download 202,732 0.7%
Under 10 Mbps Download 709,165 2.5%
Under Legal USO
10 Mbps Download and 1 Mbps upload, upload restriction excludes ADSL2+
1,088,922 3.8%
Over 15 Mbps Download
Often called High Speed Broadband
27,957,287 96.7%

The above figures may help people to understand why there is some much anger still from those that have not seen given a superfast option arrive, i.e. when roll-out announcments of 90%, 95% or some other figure from a county are made people are obviously hopeful that they will be connected, but as individual projects start calling out target met (we've not found any that have missed their target by any significant margin yet) the hope vanishes and someone has been missed out the hope quickly turns to anger and doubly so if the roll-out got within sight of their property.

Reaching the 95% is not the end of superfast roll-outs, DCMS is hopeful that the roll-outs will continue as projects continue to announce use of gainshare allocations and for Wales and Scotland their next contracts are signed. The hope is that roll-outs will eventually deliver superfast to 97% to 98% of premises before 2020, and the focus of a lot of the work in terms of tracking coverage now from ourselves, Ofcom and DCMS will be looking into how likely that looks and how many premises fall into the USO category.

Progress of superfast roll-outs across UK and its nations
Graph showing changing levels of superfast broadband coverage in the UK, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2010.

The above chart shows the progress of the roll-out of superfast broadband over the last eight years and thus covers the commercial and BDUK phases and Northern Ireland did have an early lead in 2012 then in 2014 England overtook, following by Wales and Scotland in 2015. Northern Ireland is now playing catch-up and after a year or two of small numbers of infill cabinets we are starting to see a much higher mixture of both rural and urban fibre to the premises.

The take away for the nations of Great Britain is that while there are differences in the absolute figures the digital divide has closed down immensely but until all those lines hit 100% there will be more work to be done.

Progress of superfast roll-outs across the various regions of England
Graph showing changing levels of superfast broadband coverage in the English Regions 2010.

Looking at England in particular you can see why London was left out of the BDUK process as it had a significant lead on the other English regions but that lead has almost vanished.There are three regions which can be seen to be lagging and on the South West the delays to the Connecting Devon and Somerset phase two contracts is partly to blame and with a FTTP heavy roll-out from Gigaclear planned the fix will not be overnight, Yorkshire and Humber is showing strong levels of change in 2017 largely down to the full fibre roll-outs by KCom in Hull. The East of England has no major project issues that we can pin down beyond the rural nature of so much of the counties involved. On KCom they are unusual since the full fibre roll-out that should now be heading to 100% has meant a slower roll-out than the Openreach FTTC based roll-outs but ultimately once they complete costs should be lower since likely to need less engineering staff to maintain a modern full fibre network.

In its early days the BDUK process was called various things of the ones we can reprint, rural broadband programme and final third were common ones, so many in the most rural areas thought the project was going to be an outside in process, i.e. most rural and slowest would get upgraded first, alas the criteria of value for money and hitting coverage milestones meant that much of the roll-out in the phase one contracts was cabinets in towns and larger villages and only as phase two contracts took hold did many areas will a push into deeply rural areas, hence the graph below for Great Britain has three distinct phases, commercial roll-out the driver 2010 to 2013, phase one contracts until end of 2015 and 2016 and 2017 with the phase two contracts and more of the rural being helped.

Progress of superfast roll-outs rural and urban Great Britain
State of Superfast Broadband Coverage in Rural and Urban Great Britain since 2010.
The deep rural figure (10.8% of GB premises) is the more rural premises i.e. a subset of the GB Rural figure, and thus represents the most sparsely populated areas and comprises some 3,069,437 premises.

Of course showing the most rural 10% of Great Britain has three quarters of premises with the option of superfast broadband does not mean three quarters of every village, so places like Hatherden and Wildhern in Hampshire still have no superfast broadband coverage and other villages have situations where one half can order a much better service and the other side cannot. This resulting patchwork is often not very well communicated by the many projects and Openreach (BT) who often talk of superfast broadband coming to a community but neglect to say what proportion of a community is going to benefit.

The biggest concern people have with the coverage statistics is that they know they cannot get superfast broadband due to the distance from the VDSL2 cabinet, but still presume that Openreach has been paid to deliver it to them and thus feel the projects have been wasting money. The tracking we do does take into account the distance performance of VDSL2 hence the difference between fibre based coverage and the two definitions of superfast broadband, as do the DCMS figures and so should the invoices that Openreach (BT) present for payment on the delivery of infrastructure. The onus is on the individual local authorities to verify what they are paying for, just as with any contract no matter whether delivered by commercial or an in-house council team.

Could more have been delivered, of course and that is why so many areas of the UK are forging ahead and the dream of 97% to 98% superfast coverage exists but one major problem with the contracts has been that if any contract has a protracted planning period complaints arise about the slow delivery, so identifying the so called low hanging fruit to get delivering as soon as possible has been a key driver for the BDUK projects. The increasing ratio of full fibre in the commercial roll-outs and BDUK projects which are now spread around a number of suppliers now means the pace of roll-out in 2018 is likely to slow down and maybe show would have happened if a full fibre heavy roll-out had been done from the start, i.e. we'd be looking at much lower percentages of coverage over the same time period and a lot less money left at the end of the various phases to be announced as savings to be used in the next phase. The problem is that for those in the most rural areas the outside in approach is best as it would meet their needs sooner, but for those living in the larger villages the outside in approach would see them left out for a longer period, it is the villages that comprise the larger proportion of the population.

The onus now needs to be on getting as many people as possible to upgrade to the superfast services where they are available, especially in areas where public money was used as higher take-up will increase the gainshare payback and if this happens during 2018 there is real hope that more local authorities will skip the Universal Service Obligation by announcing plans to deliver 100% superfast broadband coverage and deliver this by 2020 or if not delivered by 31st December 2019 that the plans are firm enough that people will know the roll-out will reach them in 2020 itself.

Comments

@thinkbroadband Few thought this was possible especially at a time of difficult economic activity, well done as muc… https://t.co/YKWYREFQW4

  • @Watchingtheflow
  • comment via twitter
  • 23 days ago

Matt Hancock on BBC Breakfast this morning seemed to coin a new phrase for the next phase. The target he stated was 100% to have "decent" broadband by 2020. I assume that the term "decent" broadband is the new term for the USO of 10Mbps minimum?

  • ian72
  • 22 days ago

Yes decent = USO

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 22 days ago

Does decent also = satellite

  • nobroadband
  • 22 days ago

If the sole intent was USO to be satellite based then could be enacted today.

While it may have a part to play the hope is that it will as small a number as possible due to latency and allowance and cost issues for heavy usage.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 22 days ago

I rather doubt the USO could be met today using satellite, even if the issue of latency and cost were put aside. That's simply because I don't think there's anything like enough satellite capacity available to meet the needs of perhaps 1.4 million households at 10mbps typical contention ratios during peak periods.

  • TheEulerID
  • 22 days ago

Superfast? Compared to what?
In the Arctic Circle of Sweden these speeds were bettered 15yrs ago.
Now in Malmo, speeds in excess of 220Mbps are available.
Nothing to crow about here in the UK.

  • KeithT
  • 22 days ago

Superfast as in over 24 Mbps.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 22 days ago

"Superfast" essentially means Basic Rate, i.e. if you live 300 metres or more away from the box it's not going to be good. It is purely marketing speak rather than consumer perception.

So I'm trying to work through the above figures, the best I can come to is:

5.5% of homes passed is possible Fibre delivery of broadband to the home.
92 % of homes passed broadband delivery via copper wires.
The rest uncertain or zero broadband.

  • AlaricAdair
  • 22 days ago

This is great.
But what about those unfortunate people who live in Leeds / Manchester city centre and are on EO lines?
Or even worse, people who live in non city centre flats which Hyperoptic has no interest in, and can only get very slow (sub 10mbit) FTTC even though every building in the street can get very fast FTTC or Virgin?

  • zalatnaicsongor
  • 22 days ago

Ah the old VDSL2 runs out of steam at 300 metres from a cabinet theory.

On your percentages, have you factored in that people like Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, KCom deliver full fibre and Virgin Media offer DOCSIS services that are available in some areas where Openreach VDSL2 is not, or where VDSL2 speeds are sub superfast.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 22 days ago

@zalatnaicsongor Some city centres are seeing more roll-outs and conversion of EO lines, a large amount has been done in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

So for those with no obvious plans, yes you are in the 5% and thus its chase commercial and local authority projects to see what they are doing or enjoy the moan and wait for the USO.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 22 days ago

In my street I have Virgin available or Openreach at 11Mbps down and 0.4Mbps up. I don't want to join Virgin. What can I do to get Openreach to consider boosting the service to the cabinet less than 50 meters from my house? My big gripe is that the upload speed is so pitiful. What I'm getting now would probably be characterised as USO. I'm one of the 5% and live in the middle of a small town.

  • jonesjh99
  • 22 days ago

If you have Virgin Media available you are NOT part of the 5%.

Money is the way to get operators to roll-out if they've skipped you for any particular reason.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 22 days ago

In my opinion the USO is pretty meaningless - all that is required is a plan to provide the USO speeds by 2020. That plan may be that the USO speeds won't be available until 2021. This is what Fastershire have already done for their area 3C - build starts in 2020. Job done!

  • sheephouse
  • 22 days ago

@sheephouse
Let’s not forget that our government rejected an offer to provide USO or better speeds at no cost to it (and therefore us taxpayers), most of which would have been delivered by 2020. It said no thanks, mainly due to pressure from the same companies that backed “fixing Britain’s broadband” whilst stymying progress to protect their LLU investments (TalkTalk, Sky etc).

Instead taxpayers will get to pay for a solution that’s yet to be defined and is unlikely to be launched before 2020. If I were in the last 5% I’d be complaining to my MP!

  • New_Londoner
  • 22 days ago

@New_Londoner
Good point about TalkTalk, Sky etc. They won't provide a broadband of any kind in my area, yet they are prepared to object to BT's proposal.

  • sheephouse
  • 22 days ago

@AlaricAdair

I don't know what you mean by basic rate at 300 metres from a cabinet, but of two properties I've owned, the first was 700 metres (road distance) from the cabinet and synched at 66 mbps. The second at 600m road syncs at 77mbps, both at a target SNR margin of 3db.

I would emphasise in both cases the road route is pretty well direct and is close to the radial distance. There is no short cut route for the cable.

Upload speeds are vastly different. About 10mbps on the 1st, 20mbps on the second. Probably down to ANPR PSDs masks settings due to different cab/exchange distances.

  • TheEulerID
  • 22 days ago

I'm in the other 5% - It's a complete joke!

  • Mapantz
  • 22 days ago

Living with a fixed 0.5mb connection in the Highlands I’ve never understood why BT don’t implement fixed wireless solutions. Of course fttp/fttc will be too expensive without massive subsidies so offer an alternative or invest in local companies who want to expand across the region

  • jtscotland
  • 22 days ago

Well as it January I fired off a email to BDUK liaison officer (or whatever she's called) at local council, reply was along lines of "we're looking at what funds are left", I'm not optimistic of anything happening before 2020, but fingers crossed.

  • burble
  • 22 days ago

I’m not as technical as many people on this forum. However I live less than 250 yards from a massive Wrigley factory, an ITV local HQ and an aerospace factory. My BB download speed is less than 1mB! Really?! We have to pay the same to whichever provider we switch to but the infrastructure just isn’t there. Devon it might be but on the fringe of a city of 250,000 people and no connectivity. Am I the only one with this experience?

  • 1fanr_j
  • 22 days ago

Given that some areas are still running their phase 2 (SEP) projects, or only just starting them, I'm impressed that the UK average has already managed to hit 95%.

Matt Hancock has shifted his focus to "decent broadband", but I think he's missing a trick (and undermining his junior digital minister). Surely he should focus on the "plans" to take us from a 95% coverage of superfast speeds, up to 97-98% coverage.

At the moment, the plans feel very unstructured, inconsistent from area to area, and unsupported from a central BDUK perspective. Focus on that,over the next 2 years must surely help!

  • WWWombat
  • 22 days ago

@KeithT
There's little point trying to compare the UK's minimum target with the top speeds available in Sweden.

We know that the 10Mbps USO is meant as a safegaurd to the slowest rural areas, so it is far better to compare those parts of the two countries.

The best comparison right now comes from the EU's digital progress report, here:
https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/european-digital-progress-report
(Staff working document)

Figure 1.13 show the availability of NGA access networks (June 2016), where the UK has better availability overall (by 13%) and especially rural (by 55%)

  • WWWombat
  • 22 days ago

@Andrew
Finally, thanks for the analysis, and especially for the graphs showing the change over time for the nations, regions, and rural/urban divide.

Really interesting to see the changes.

  • WWWombat
  • 22 days ago

@1fanr_j Your exact combination is probably unique, but people with others with better connectivity nearby is not uncommon, those businesses probably have their own dedicated business broadband services, and so close proximity to larger business may make your chances of getting better residential broadband worse.

Devon rejected BT Phase two bid, and now has Gigaclear and Airband on the job, so time will tell what gets delivered.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 22 days ago

im in the 2.5% under 10mpbs download a complete joke and money for nothing only been waiting for 7 yrs,i hope the fat cats choke on it.

  • plc143
  • 21 days ago

We need clarification on the USO and the solutions NOW!
Other wise it will at least another 4 years before there will be any improvements to the final 2% if any!
(I remember it took a year just to get a DACS removed from my line)

  • nobroadband
  • 21 days ago

Clarification of the USO is down to Ofcom.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 21 days ago

Superfast Broadband is not super or fast.

Every other European county treats anything under 50mbits as slow. My 4G mobile bandwidth is better than my 24Mbps superfast broadband.

BT will never upgrade my street cabinet (confirmed by calling Openreach) even though the whole town has been done.

  • dknight12
  • 21 days ago

Well I'm in that exclusive 5% of the population that don't get superfast broadband! Despite being on a new built site on the edge of town, BT/Openreach say it will take until the end of 2018 to get it looked at! When I signed up they 'sold' me 17Mbs, but only get 2.5Mbs (on a good day and no one else in the street using it!!!).
SO it's a complete joke that this site claims so many people get superfast broadband, when in fact very few actually do. Even when it mentions the caveat of rural areas, it's just as bad in built up areas!

  • TravellingBob
  • 21 days ago

1fanr_j - looks like you are on Crownhill cab 41 which covers a relatively small area but may be covered by Airband.

https://www.airband.co.uk/project/devon-and-somerset-ooc/?postcode=pl67pr

  • Somerset
  • 21 days ago

@travellingbob Which exchange/town? Always worth checking, particularly as you assert that the figures must be wrong, as then can correct them if they are

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 21 days ago

@TravellingBob
Clearly broadband is important to you. What did the developer say when you asked about broadband provision before agreeing to buy your home? Remember the developer decides what infrastructure is installed on the site, then asks Openreach, Virgin or another network provider to install it.

If you’re unhappy you should take it up with the developer, assuming that what you have is different to what you were promised.

  • New_Londoner
  • 21 days ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
Super Surrey results at 24 meg showing 97.64% (TBB) it is starting to show that the information from Dorking meeting could hit 99.7% at 15 meg or be very close after all the clawback money has been spent. With only a few Interm Cabs to be fitted it looks like Openreach has come up with the goods.

  • Blackmamba
  • 18 days ago

If Opemrezch cannot be bothered and your 'superfast' connection is provided by Virgin you are in the hands of a pure monopoly provider who will price gouge you until your testicles pop out your head. The only sane definition of 'coverage' is when there are multiple providers offering some degree of competition.

  • M100
  • 15 days ago

What about having a phone line from bt but you can't make a call or have any form of Internet connection because the line is that bad and you've had three engineers out but they can't tell you what's up and when you call bt help you get someone who has no clue.

  • lurcho
  • 15 days ago

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