Broadband News

UK superfast coverage down at 93.6% once capacity issues taken into account

Waiting for an extra line, more copper pairs or even a whole new VDSL2 twin can be a frustratingly long wait for those affected so in one of our periodic bits of analysis we are looking at what the effect of these capacity problems is on superfast broadband availability figures.

Confusingly for the public some broadband providers have been known to hide the availability of the VDSL2 services when people do an availability check rather than tell people they are in an area where the service is present but a temporary capacity issue means they cannot order today. Other providers simply take the order and only once they attempt to place the order with the upstream wholesaler is the capacity issue spotted, which can lead to frustation as an order is cancelled.

Of course for those living in areas such as Blaenau Gwent where capacity issues impact around 9.3% of premises it may feel like the scale of the issue is much larger nationally. It is worth pointing out that a cabinet at capacity does not just impact those ordering VDSL2 for the first time, but migrations are usually blocked until such time as a port becomes available.

In addition to the regional round-up we are including the 10 council areas where capacity is having the largest impact in our table.

Coverage of Superfast Broadband and the impact of VDSL2 cabinets which are at a capacity limit as of 10th April 2019
 Standard Coverage FiguresChange Due to Capacity Issues
Region% superfast
30 Mbps and faster
(All tech)
% Openreach
Any speed
% Openreach Superfast
30 Mbps and faster

30 Mbps and faster (All tech)

Openreach Any Speed (*)Openreach
30 Mbps and faster
United Kingdom 95.7 93.6 90.7 -2.1 -3.8 -3.7
East of England 95.2 94.9 91.5 -2.6 -4.9 -4.7
East Midlands 97.2 95.7 93.4 -1.7 -3.4 -3.3
London 97.1 92 90.8 -1.5 -3.9 -3.9
North East 97.3 88.1 86.8 -1.5 -2.0 -2.0
Northern Ireland 88.6 97.6 86.7 -1.2 -1.5 -1.3
North West 96.5 95.8 93.2 -2.4 -4.0 -3.9
Scotland 93.5 92.8 88.8 -3.0 -4.4 -4.3
South East 97.0 95.5 93 -2.1 -3.8 -3.7
South West 94.0 92.9 88.2 -2.6 -4.2 -4.0
Wales 94.7 96.4 93.2 -2.9 -3.5 -3.4
West Midlands 97.0 92.5 90.5 -1.2 -3.1 -3.0
Yorkshire and Humber 95.7 91.4 89.1 -2.0 -3.1 -3.1
The 10 local authority areas with the largest impact due to FTTC capacity issues.
Blaenau Gwent 98.2 99.9 98.2 -9.3 -9.6 -9.4
Moray 87.3 96.5 87.3 -9.3 -9.3 -9.2
Isle of Wight 96.2 99.8 96 -9.2 -10.7 -10.3
North Somerset 93.8 91 86.5 -9.1 -9.7 -9.6
East Lothian 91.5 96.7 91.3 -8.5 -8.7 -8.0
Rutland 95.2 96.1 89.6 -8.0 -9.3 -8.6
Bridgend 98.0 99.1 98.0 -7.6 -7.7 -7.5
Perth and Kinross 85.5 93.4 84.6 -7.3 -10.5 -9.4
Highland 78.8 92.7 78.8 -6.9 -7.4 -6.6
Caerphilly 97.9 99.6 97.9 -6.7 -6.7 -6.6

Percentages reflect the number of premises that are present in the various regions, thus a cabinet serving 450 premises being at capacity will have a greater impact overall than one serving just 180 premises. Coverage figures are taken from our analysis of coverage on 16th December 2019 and data on the cabinets with at capacity messaging from the 10th April 2018. The number of active VDSL2 lines on each cabinet is not accounted for, so the numbers will be lower in reality, but those people will also encounter issues in migrating so we have not attempted to compensate. 2019 has brought some additional complications since the amount of G.fast and GEA-FTTP overlays is reducing the figures marginally. 

(*) A few words on why the decline in availability is highest in this column and that is because we are considering Openreach infrastructure only in this column.

Looking to the future we may eventually have to start doing similar capacity tracking for the G.fast service but with the low levels of take-up at this time it is not a major concern. For the Openreach FTTP Fibre First roll-out areas there should not be any issue as we understand that enough fibre ports at the manifold locations should exist for the number of premises passed, previously in some of the old blown fibre areas this was not always the case and a second manifold might be needed if lots of people ordered.

Comments

Ignoring migrations surely the numbers of premises affected are only those in a cabinet area without service now.

Are you numbers really accurate to 0.1%?

  • Somerset
  • 4 months ago

"The number of active VDSL2 lines on each cabinet is not accounted for, so the numbers will be lower in reality" as we say in the article. So figures are presented are going to be worse than in reality.

On accuracy displaying no decimal places or 10 decimal places does not carry any implications for accuracy, just a choice of how many decimal places to display in the table.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 4 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
In my thinking it is the customers that have no option of a speed above 10 Meg that are not been provided a service to their requirements. The port availability on a FTTC is very fluid due to the lack of fibre provision and the demand in the area and the customers aspirations.

  • Blackmamba
  • 4 months ago

@A - maybe I should have asked if the precision to one decimal place is relevant.

@BM - makes no sense, please explain in detail. FTTC cabinet ports are unrelated to the fibre connection to them which is sized appropriately.

  • Somerset
  • 4 months ago

It is relevant, but capacity is a fluid thing, so an area might change day to day. So if I was to repeat the full exercise today would give marginally different figures. Rounding to whole figures when talking about values under 5 is too much rounding.

The key point is that claims of 'Openreach not building capacity for VDSL2 take-up' is not a major problem in terms of national or regional picture, but for an individual it may feel different.

In short if we see UK doing 2.5 then 3.4 then 4.2 then 4.8 then 5.4 consistently we could be looking at Openreach stopping building more capacity

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 4 months ago

Hi Broadband Watchers.
As pure fibre is being Overlaid on Cabs which may have no spare ports this will open up these cabs as the fibre is open for service this also effects interim Cabs.
I think OFCom has stated that 50% of the UK could have higher speeds if required so there must be capacity it is in the hands of the ISP,s.
Openreach will not pay out for ports that are not required as they are pushing for Pure Fibre.

  • Blackmamba
  • 4 months ago

@Blackmamba If you're going to continue posting here may I urge you to read your posts before you submit them as the vast majority make little or no sense to those who have English as their first language. That an FTTC cab has a waiting list demonstrates that their is demand and not everyone is prepared to wait five, ten years or more for the panacea of 100% fibre. That many users could see faster speeds is not the fault of either OpenReach or the ISPs but more often the deliberate choice of customers be they on FTTC or FTP who consider speeds of 40Mbps or so meet their needs.

  • MCM999
  • 4 months ago

If your FTTC cabinet is full then tough, you can pay for FTTP or do without.

That's the option I was given for being too far away from the cabinet I don't see why anyone elses options should be any different.

The BDUK money went to your area and you dipped out, suck it up.

  • Swac3
  • 4 months ago

If your FTTC cabinet is full then tough, you can pay for FTTP or do without.

That's the option I was given for being too far away from the cabinet I don't see why anyone elses options should be any different.

The BDUK money went to your area and you dipped out, suck it up.

  • Swac3
  • 4 months ago

Sorry wasn't a deliberate double post, maybe Admin can delete this one and one of the others ?

  • Swac3
  • 4 months ago

Here in South Somerset a major limitation on VDSL speed is caused by retention of old steel overhead wires instead of copper. Whilst it was Openreach who pointed this out they refuse to replace the 200 yards of wire involved. This seems particulary outrageous when the FTTC cabinet was installed using Broadband UK monies but "Connecting Devon & Somerset" the agency involved, appears to have no influence or will to sort this out.

Do others have the same limitations on their speeds?

  • Middlefield
  • 4 months ago

Quote "It is worth pointing out that a cabinet at capacity does not just impact those ordering VDSL2 for the first time, but migrations are usually blocked until such time as a port becomes available."

Whilst it's clearly frustrating for someone wanting VDSL2 for the first time, it's even more unreasonable that someone already on VDSL2 can't migrate when they already have the port. If your current provider doesn't offer a good deal when your contract is up, you are lumbered. This strikes me as anti-competitive, what do OFCOM have to say about that?

  • ChrisAO
  • 4 months ago

The issue on migration is thougth to be done to a need to ensure equivalence.

i.e. shifting between different BT Wholesale based providers is not favoured over swapping between TalkTalk and Sky

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • 4 months ago

Hi 999.
After rechecking various Cabs in Surrey where customers are unable to get service on FTTC I have found that work is in Progress on Elgin either to provide Pure Fibre or infill Cab s. even the Exchange Passfield Hants ( 500 customers) is being cabled backed to Its old charge group 01428 (Haslemere). I would think that this will be completed very soon. I would expect that this situation is happening across the UK. I am only interested to get to the customers the service they want ISP, Price etc.

  • Blackmamba
  • 4 months ago

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