Broadband News

North East worst region for superfast broadband in new homes in 2017

At the beginning of the week we looked at the UK wide summary with regards to how likely new build premises were to have access to superfast broadband and this showed the North East as the worst performing region of the UK. Now we can share a more detailed picture of the situation in the North East.

Superfast and full fibre coverage in North East by year postcode went live
Superfast, Full Fibre and USO coverage levels in North East England based on year postcode went live according to ONS

Update: Saturday 10th March midday, the original article went online on Friday afternoon but was removed when we discovered that ADSL2+ only premises with speeds in the 12 to 18 Mbps region had been counted twice in the total premises count which reduced the overall superfast coverage figures. This error has been fixed and did not impact on our normal coverage analysis figures. We have updated the images and text of the article, but the key point that the North East is the worst region for new premises superfast availability remains.

The results in the North East are far from good, of the over 5,200 premises in postcodes that ONS list as commencing in 2017 only 58.2% have access to a superfast or faster broadband service, in terms of full fibre (FTTP) it is 11.6%. The chart shows that things have being getting worse since 2011 and it may be that the way the Open Market Review process works is partly to blame, since many counties ran theirs in 2012 and thus new build for subsequent years was often missed.

We expect the 2017 superfast coverage figures to improve as roll-outs catch up from Openreach and Virgin Media, but even then the coverage levels from 2015 and 2016 are not at all impressive. Also there is still some work to be done on resolving new build numbers in North Yorkshire and Cumbria which will have a small effect on the North East figures.

We do not have an answer as to why the North East is so much worse than other areas, but we have checked the volumes of premises to make sure it is not that we have missed lots of premises and 2017 looks like a fairly normal year for the volume of premises. The premises in each year explains why the North East currently has such a high level of superfast broadband coverage with 97.6% of premises built in 1980 or previously with access to superfast broadband and the under performing years balance this out to 97%.

Premises count by year using ONS postcode commencement date
Premises per year grouped by ONS postcode commencement date
NOTE: 1980 is oldest date in ONS data hence the high premises count.

The moral of this is that no matter what pronouncements are made now on improving the broadband situation for those buying a new home you MUST check what is actually available and do not believe vague promises that services will be installed by the time you move in, i.e. get it in writing and do not commit to the purchase until you are sure that the promise has been fulfilled.

New build premises on estates are often more complicated because as the roads and pavements are still waiting on adoption by the local authority and thus telecoms operators cannot use their code powers since the land is private, hence the need for co-operation from developers. One complication is that a number of larger developments are in reality a cluster of development firms, so telecoms operators have to deal with each individual one, and this explains why some estates are seeing full fibre on some roads, VDSL2 on others and just ADSL2+ on others.

UK and regions superfast coverage for new premises in 2017
Coverage levels across all UK regions in 2017

The position of the North East at the bottom of the pile is visible when you look at all the UK regions, and while it is possible that more full fibre, cable roll-outs and VDSL2 cabinets will improve the 2017 situation, the built in lag of a couple of years that property development has means it may be 2020 before people can buy a new home with a high degree of certainty that it will have broadband fit for a family.

With the broadband Universal Service Obligation still in the design stages exactly what those in new homes built in say 2016 and 2017 will be able to demand in 2020 is a big unknown and the message to developers in particular in the year and a bit before the USO becomes reality needs to be that you cannot run off with the profits and rely on legislation to resolve critical infrastructure such as broadband. The USO is meant to be a safety net, not the standard form of broadband delivery for estates of new homes.


No development would be given PP without provision being made for of water, electricity. Why cannot fibre broadband be considered an equally essential utility? Telephone cables are put in on new developments, is it that much more exoensive to run fibre to a house than to run copper? Typical short term thinking.

  • steamingdave
  • 9 months ago

Post a comment

Login Register