Broadband News

February update on state of broadband coverage across the UK, nations and regions

The news that the UK had hit 95% coverage at speeds over 24 Mbps back on the 29th January was probably not much of a suprise due to our regular updates on broadband coverage levels in the UK and while the 97 or 98% talked about now is not a policy goal but rather an aim informed by the continuing commercial and gap-funded roll-outs our intent is to keep tracking the coverage levels.

The danger for the UK is around how far will the roll-outs of full fibre connectivity go and what will happen in terms of deliver of Universal Service Obligation level services in 2020 and onwards. The Digital Divide has shrunk in terms of numbers for superfast broadband but at the same time for those in the areas left behind the gap feels even wider and the push for more Gigabit connectivity in various cities is going to open up old wounds.

A note of caution for anyone reading this update, while the change figures are good for January a lot of that is down to chasing down all the roll-out work that we had otherwise missed during the end of 2017. We are not expecting anything like the same levels of change when we report again in March, things like the end of the roll-out in Wales and other parts of the UK are now working on those premises where it takes more time to connect each one (the downside of full fibre) means that the superfast growth of the last few months and years will only be repeated if there is a significant increase in workforce sizes, both native within the various telecoms providers and the many contractors they get much of the civils work to.

thinkbroadband analysis of Superfast, USC, USO and Full Fibre Broadband Coverage across the UK, its nations and regions for premises
In descending order of superfast coverage - figures 6th February 2018
(change since 7th January 2017)
Area% fibre based
VDSL2 or
FTTP or
Cable
% superfast
24 Mbps or faster
% superfast
30 Mbps or faster
% Ultrafast
100 Mbps or faster
%
Full Fibre
and
Openreach FTTP
% Under 2 Mbps download

% Below USO

10 Mbps download

1 Mbps upload

North East 98.2% 97.2% (+0.1) 97% 53.1% (=)

0.53% (=)

0.15% (=)

0.2% 2.1%
926,748 Premises 910,308 900,834 898,951 491,749

4,907

1,400

1,998 19,582
London 97.7% 96.9% (+0.1) 96.8% 71.6% (+0.1)

6.33% (+0.30)

2.44% (+0.03)

0.1% 2.5%
4,473,217 Premises 4,372,548 4,336,758 4,330,283 3,203,361

283,060

109,268

5,601 113,843
East Midlands 98.7% 96.9% (+0.2) 96.6% 58.6% (-0.1)

1.04% (=)

0.28% (+0.01)

0.4% 2.1%
1,110,765 Premises 1,096,216 1,076,433 1,073,133 650,990

11,549

3,055

4,890 23,546
South East 98.5% 96.8% (+0.3) 96.5% 52.6% (0.1)

2.79% (+0.03)

1.45% (+0.02)

0.3% 2.1%
2,172,748 Premises 2,140,682 2,103,853 2,097,286 1,143,286

60,652

31,466

6,326 46,475
West Midlands 98.1% 96.4% (+0.2) 96.2% 64.7% (+0.1)

1.26% (+0.04)

0.51% (+0.05)

0.4% 2.7%
2,795,383 Premises 2,742,163 2,694,996 2,688,261 1,804,148

35,195

14,177

9,802 74,587
North West 98.2% 96.1% (+0.3) 95.8% 49.1% (=)

2.09% (+0.04)

1.25% (+0.03)

0.6% 2.9%
3,924,849 Premises 3,853,814 3,770,931 3,759,716 1,928,844

82,188

49,186

24,839 114,392
England 97.6% 95.3% (+0.3) 95.2% 56.3% (+0.1)

3.7% (+0.11)

2.17% (+0.04)

0.5% 3.4%
24,137,486 Premises 23,550,199 23,053,361 22,981,012 13,578,522

893,912

524,471

118,222 809.974
Great Britain 97.5% 95.3% (+0.3) 94.9% 53.9% (+0.1)

3.47% (+0.11)

2.10% (+0.04)

0.6% 3.6%
28,150,593 Premises 27,437,712 26,814,237 26,726,993 15,167,689

976,939

592,397

162,939 1,018,088
United Kingdom 97.5% 95.0% (+0.3) 94.7% 53.3% (+0.1)

3.41% (+0.11)

2.08% (+0.05)

0.7% 3.8%
28,926,526 Premises 28,202,835 27,486,873 27,392,508 15,406,862

987,118

602,576

202,438 1,085,682

Rest Of Scotland
(i.e. not HIE area)

97.1% 94.6% (+0.3) 94.3% 47.4% (-0.1)

0.85% (+0.09)

0.38% (+0.03)

0.9% 4.5%
2,381,729 Premises 2,312,365 2,252,433 2,246,546 1,127,872

20,316

9,038

20,316 107,248
East of England 96.8% 94.1% (+0.4) 93.6% 51.7% (=)

1.46% (+0.05)

0.79% (+0.02)

0.7% 4.5%
2,629,046 Premises 2,545,021 2,472,809 2,462,012 1,358,553

38,305

20,893

18,163 118,138
Wales 97.1% 94.2% (+0.5) 93.8% 32.7% (+0.1)

4.45% (+0.18)

4.18% (+0.17)

0.9% 4.3%
1,390,424 Premises 1,350,421 1,309,924 1,303,724 454,881

61,827

58,179

12,131 59,963
Yorkshire and Humber 95.9% 94.0% (+0.4) 93.7% 54.5% (+0.2)

7.1% (+0.15)

6.15% (+0.15)(includes KCom Lightstream)

0.6% 5.1%
2,574,668 Premises 2,468,013 2,419,329 2,412,861 1,403,241

182,736

158,459

14,806 131,042
Scotland 96.7% 93.5% (+0.4) 93.1% 43.3% (+0.1)

0.81% (+0.05)

0.37% (+0.04)

1.2% 5.6%
2,622,683 Premises 2,537,092 2,450,952 2,442,257 1,134,286

21,200

9,747

32,586 148,151
South West 96.9% 92.9% (+0.4) 92.3% 45.2% (+0.1)

5.53% (+0.12)

3.87% (+0.05)

0.9% 4.8%
3,530,062 Premises 3,421,434 3,277,418 3,258,509 1,594,350

195,320

136,567

31,797 168,099
Northern Ireland 98.6% 86.7% (+1.3) 85.8% 30.8% (+0.2)

1.31% (+0.21)

1.31% (+0.21)

5.1% 9.2%
775,933 Premises 765,123 672,636 665,515 239,173

10,179

10,178

39,499 71,677
Highlands and Islands (HIE) 89.9% 79% (+1.1) 77.9% 0.3% (=)

0.29% (+0.03)

0.29% (+0.03)

4.3% 16.7%
240,955 Premises 216,521 190,408 187,611 690

690

690

10,303 39,392

On the obvious questions, why are some areas showing decreasing ultrafast coverage even though more full fibre is being rolled out? This is usually down to the increasing premises footprint as new homes are built, and while some have full fibre added by default there are some with just VDSL2 or nothing. Northern Ireland has the largest change and this is down to a surge in Openreach FTTP roll-out to town centres, new build premises and slow rural areas along with an increase in the number of infill cabinets going live.

This February update is likely to be the last major increase in coverage for Wales for some months now, there are still some FTTP areas marked as in build and we have seen some VDSL2 cabinets go live in January but only another couple of thousand superfast premises are expected from the old Superfast Cymru project and until the winner(s) of the three new lots start to deliver will there be any significant change. Using the ONS definitions for rural and urban postcodes looking at Wales the rural area of Wales has 84.5% 30 Mbps and faster superfast coverage compared to the urban areas at 98.1%, but FTTP coverage is reversed rural 10.9%, urban 1.3%.

Comments

"but at the same time for those in the areas left behind the gap feels even wider and the push for more Gigabit connectivity in various cities is going to open up old wounds."

- absolutely. Someone who gets it.
Priorities inverted. Neighbours have 1 Mbps downstream sync rate or less, I am the luckiest in my village in that I have 2.7-2.9Mbps downstream sync rate. But we pay the same amount as DSL users on ADSL2+ who get 20Mbps. How exactly could it be justified that the price is independent of what is actually delivered? (I know the answer to this question, but it is nothing to do with fairness or justice.) Meanwhile, a notional 80Mbps downstream for FTTC is not enough, more money needs to be wasted on widening the digital divide much much further with G.Fast. Capitalism out of control, snafu.

  • CecilWard
  • 6 months ago

@CecilWard I can well understand your frustration however there are two points to consider. BT, VM and the other network providers are private companies answerable to their shareholders and invest where they believe they can see a reasonable ROI. Now if the rush for faster speeds in the urban areas was in part government funded you would have good cause to object but given it is private money I feel not. As for those on slower rural lines paying the same as those enjoying faster speeds one also needs to take into account the likely higher cost of supplying and maintaining their connection.

  • MCM999
  • 6 months ago

I would be interested to know how many of those premises identified as being in areas with 24Mbps are actually receiving those speeds. I have FTTC and was promised downloads of 24Mbps and uploads of 4.5Mbps. After three months, many phone calls and an engineer visit (confirming that there is no problem with my internal wiring and likely to be a fault downstream) it may just about creak up to 18, is frequently less than 10 and sometimes below ; upload has never been better than 2.5. I am now on the 4th day of waiting for a call from a BT manager. I suspect many are in my position. Superfast?

  • steamingdave
  • 6 months ago

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