900,000 Openreach full fibre premises passed milestone reached
Dagenham is the latest exchange added to a growing list of exchanges where the Openreach Fibre First project has full fibre ready for the public to order.
The total number of premises where FTTP from Openreach is available to order is now standing at 900,321 and Openreach is still the largest FTTP operator in the United Kingdom by a large margin.
The broadband maps have been updated though the highest zoom level may be missing some of the newest postcodes until the tiles have fully finished rendering, the postcode level searches and package search with the final batch of postcodes that took us just past the 900,000 mark overnight.
The Fibre First roll-out is making an impact on those urban areas where it is concentrating, for example Bristol 12.6% Openreach FTTP (14.7% all FTTP providers), Birmingham 4.1% (all 6.4%), Liverpool 10.9% (all 14.5%), Leeds 6.8% (all 9.8%), Coventry 3.8% (all 9.8%), Edinburgh 6.6% (all 9.5%), London 3.4% (all 9.9%), Salford 15.2% (all 25.1%) and Cardiff 9.4% (13.5%). Cabinets that have never had VDSL2 and exchange only areas are often included in the roll-out and on a number of exchanges where G.fast has been deployed this is being overlaid with FTTP too.
The BDUK projects and the focus of a wide number of smaller FTTP operators has meant that for a long time rural Great Britain was ahead in terms of percentage coverage by full fibre, but the pace of Fibre First, along with urban operators such as CityFibre and Hyperoptic means the gap is closing with 7.7% FTTP coverage in the rural areas of Great Britain versus 5.8% in the urban areas.
The declared pace of the Openreach roll-out is 13,000 premises a week, but we are finding it at a much faster pace e.g. adding 45,000 premises in the last 11 days. The assumption is that we are catching up to leading edge of their roll-out since back at the end of January 2019 the last set of financials said the footprint was 893,000 premises as of 31st December 2018. At the declared pace this means Openreach may have a footprint of over 1 million premises and at our current pace we should pass that figure in around four to five weeks. We estimate that the addition of the latest new build premises (started a week ago) will add another 10,000 to 15,000 Openreach FTTP premises in the next 6 weeks and rural FTTP via the BDUK projects will account for another couple of thousand across the United Kingdom but the bulk is going to be Fibre First activity.
The future is clearly full fibre but the uncertaintities are around pricing and take-up and what Openreach will be allowed to do in terms of competition with firms like CityFibre. An all out price war in areas where networks overlap would benefit the consumer in the short term but would test the patience of investors and shareholders which in turn could result in decisions to not roll-out to so many areas. While Hyperoptic and Openreach have significant overlap in new build apartments the CityFibre roll-out with Vodafone has not yet over built in an Openreach FTTP area. The much larger overlap that exists is with the old Virgin Media network, but with plans for faster tiers and the TV packages they may feel they are in a good place, a lot hinges on what exactly Sky and TalkTalk do, for example if Sky over multiple FTTP platforms was able to offer its full TV services without a satellite dish and almost throw in a decent broadband FTTP service for close to free.