Changing picture of broadband technology popularity since 2012 revealed
A lot of our work is tracking the numerous roll-outs and monitoring the speeds of the different broadband packages, but buried in that data there is now 7 years of information on how popular the different technologies are. As with all crowd sourced data a single data point could be an anomaly but by being able to show the trend between Q1 2012 and Q1 2019 it is easy to see the pattern.
In numbers the Q1 2019 split for the UK was ADSL/ADSL2+ 24.8%, FTTC 54.5%, G.fast 0.1%, Cable 17.2%, FTTP 3.1% and wireless 0.3%. The low figure for G.fast explains why its vanished on the chart, but given G.fast is invariably rolled out to areas where we know people can get 60 Mbps or better from FTTC and invariably have Virgin Media as an ultrafast option take-up is likely to a slow process. As the FTTP Fibre First roll-out from Openreach gets going it will be interesting to see if the pull of full fibre makes for a different take-up rate ahead of any bulk migrations.
The obvious stand out is that ADSL/ADSL2+ services are becoming less popular and if the trend continues in another 3 or 4 years we may be down to 10% or less of speed tests seen as using ADSL or ADSL2+ and this is before any bulk migrations to the more modern services has taken place.
What is revealing is that if you consider ADSL and FTTC services as the Openreach local loop their overall share has been pretty static since 2013. Spotting the full fibre (FTTP) prior to 2015 is a case of zooming into the full size image but starting in 2016 the trend is clear - full fibre is arriving and is starting to squeeze the other technologies.
We have also done the same trend analysis for the different local authorities and picking one at random we landed on Suffolk which shows the emergence of full fibre and in Suffolk the full fibre is largely via the BDUK project along with some new build. Does this mean cable broadband is being squeezed and has shrinking customer numbers? We don't think so, there may be some churn but with the rural full fibre those people do not have a Virgin Media option so the 'squeezing' is probably those who did not have broadband at all previously or was too slow to register above zero on the speed test and thus the broadband population is now larger.
The tendency for people to take their new broadband for a test drive via a speed test is apparent in the Suffolk figures since we saw in Q1 2019 3.1% of tests identifying as FTTP but availability of full fibre in the county is lower at 2.3%. Also if you are rolling out FTTP to areas with slow or no broadband take-up is likely to be higher, but the accountants will of course be doing a balancing act e.g. take-up double the norm in rural areas but more than double the cost to roll-out might explain why the original BDUK roll-outs went for a partial fibre solution. So if one was to talk about absolute figures it is likely the figures are wrong, but the data does highlight that the path towards a lot more full fibre in the UK is underway