Latest BT Group results show increasing pace of FTTP roll-out
If you enjoy playing with your columns of financial figures then head on over to the BT Group website to sift your way through the latest results for the nine months to the end of 31st December 2018, otherwise carry on reading and we will summarise the most important figures for the UK broadband scene.
The big news is that the roll-outs of FTTP and G.fast are increasing and have a combined total of 2,601,000 premises made up of 893,000 premises passed for FTTP and 1,708,000 of G.fast. The results talk about over 2.6 million premises passed but as we have found in Whitchurch there are now some overlaps, whether that overlap existed at the time of the reports compilation we don't know and it is only 2,030 premises but hopefully future results will keep this in mind to avoid.
The increase to 893,000 premises of FTTP is a jump from 682,000 at the end of the last quarter and gives a build rate of 17,583 premises every week, which is significantly up compared to previous quarters. Extrapolating that build rate in the two years from 31st December 2018 to 31st December 2020 another 1,828,632 premises would be added to give a FTTP footprint of 2,721,632 premises - therefore the 3 million target is within reach particularly with the additional recruitment drives to increase the pace further.
Looking at the take-up of the G.fast and FTTP services we have some important insight to share, on the basic numbers there are 15,000 live G.fast connections (0.88% take-up) and for FTTP 267,000 connections (29.9% take-up). This suggests that FTTP is massively more popular than G.fast and some may incorrectly conclude that Fibre First is a run away success in the FTTP areas. The reality is that the vast majority of the live FTTP connections to date are from new build homes (full fibre often the only option) or in slow areas where the other option is just ADSL or ADSL2+ or is the first fixed line broadband option and in those slow areas people will very quickly sign up. G.fast is often competing in areas where there is Virgin Media cable available and the majority already have VDSL2 available around the 70 to 80 Mbps connection speed, and therefore if looking at take-up it may be fairer to compare the take-up to take-up of the faster Virgin Media services e.g. the 350 Mbps product appears to have a 1-2 % take-up and that is after being marketed for a number of years. As Openreach and other firms deploy FTTP in areas with existing good superfast and ultrafast options it will be interesting to see the take-up pattern.
Our tracking of the Openreach FTTP roll-out has hit a premises count of 728,778 premises as of 31st December adding some 74,421 premises in just over three weeks. Some of the reasons we are behind the official Openreach 893,000 premises count is that in the Fibre First areas there are many thousands we believe are passed by Openreach FTTP but the go live for actually placing orders is waiting on either some exchange handover work, or a plan to announce an exchange area as live all at the same time to increase the publicity and make marketing easier for providers. Therefore we suspect that our pace of addition of live FTTP will ebb and flow depending on whether its urban First First or rural BDUK delivery, or put more simply an hour in a city can find 2,000 premises of FTTP but that same hour in rural areas might only be 150 premises.
There is more to the results but largely it is business as usual hence just covering the ultrafast news from Openreach.